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Mental Wellness Tips

When was the last time you paid attention to your mental wellness? Most people realize it is important to keep their physical body healthy and well but few think about keeping their minds healthy and well. To achieve an overall balance, we all need to strive for both physical and mental wellness.

Most people think that mental illness won’t affect them but the statistics are hard to dispute – 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness sometime in their life. For some it may be stress. (Yes, stress is a form of mental illness!) 5 of the top 10 illnesses contributing to disability or premature death are mental illnesses. Depression is the most prevalent and is expected to become the second most disabling illness by the year 2020.

Maintaining Mental Health

For yourself, a friend, a family member or an employee, we encourage you to watch for symptoms. Although symptoms may vary with each type of mental illness and each individual, the following are some common symptoms to watch for:

  • Depression lasting for longer than a few weeks;
  • Confused thoughts, delusions, and/or hallucinations;
  • Extreme fears or anxiety that seem “out of proportion” to circumstances or events;
  • Lack of motivation for a prolonged period of time;
  • Persistent feelings of helplessness or hopelessness;
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed;
  • Extreme mood swings between depression and mania, sometimes with overly reckless behaviour;
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or sudden irritability;
  • Disruption to usual sleep patterns;
  • Talk or thoughts of suicide.

While some of these symptoms are uncomfortable or frightening to talk about, the sooner someone seeks help, the better they will be prepared to manage a mental illness. Reaching out also reminds us that we are not alone, and Canadian Mental Health Association has trained professionals with expertise to help.

We encourage you to contact Canadian Mental Health Association if you are concerned about a friend, family member, employee or if you personally feel overwhelmed by life’s stressors. You are not alone. We can help because…

Mental wellness is what we do!

Mental Illness Triggers

Be aware of mental illness triggers.

There is no single cause for mental illness, and no one is to blame when someone is experiencing a mental illness. Often, it’s a complex interplay of many factors that contribute to a person becoming mentally ill. Mental illnesses are thought to be triggered by:

  • A chemical imbalance in the brain
  • Genetics
  • Psychological and social factors, such as a traumatic life event

Chemical Imbalance

A chemical imbalance in the brain is caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters which can lead to symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or stress reactions. We are all at-risk for changes in our brains’ chemistry. Recognizing these changes is an important part of treatment and the return to health. Biological factors, including the following, can also affect the brain’s chemistry and the onset of a mental illness:

  • Pre-natal damage;
  • Birth trauma;
  • Viral infection;
  • Faulty brain chemistry.

Genetics

Most mental illnesses are more common among close family members, which suggest that genetics plays a role too. People, however, don’t inherit the illness itself. They just inherit the tendency to get it.

Psychological and Social Factors

Psychological and social factors are also major contributors to mental health, and negative experiences within our family or social circle can have a huge impact on our ability to cope and our tendency to become mentally ill. It is commonly thought that mental illness can be triggered by a traumatic life event or situation and/or prolonged stress. Some examples are as follows:

  • Lack of support from relationships
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Family violence
  • Severe or prolonged stress
  • Unemployment
  • Major changes in life

A person’s emotional health comes from a combination of their attitudes, personality, support systems, and brain chemistry. To keep our minds mentally well, she says a positive attitude with healthy lifestyle choices along with talking to trained professionals about how a person may be feeling, will help us through many of life’s difficulties.

A good support system of family and friends, she adds, is also valuable during challenging times. But a mental illness can affect even the most upbeat, “can-do,” well-adjusted person, just as a physical illness can.

While some of these symptoms are uncomfortable or frightening to talk about, Chenery says the sooner someone seeks help, the better they will be prepared to manage a mental illness.

“Reaching out also reminds people that we are not alone. We encourage anyone to contact us if they are concerned about a friend, family member, employee or if they personally feel overwhelmed by life’s stressors.

For general information or referrals, call (403) 329-4775, or for the 24-hour Crisis, Distress & Suicide Prevention line call (403) 327-7905.

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