With the increasing pressures facing Americans, from high performance standards at work, to children who deal with peer pressure, to the rising costs in nearly every industry, it is no surprise that mental health diseases are on the rise. The average American faces at least one of these difficulties, if not two or more, leading many people into depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
The number of teens affected by these illnesses is also growing at an alarming rate. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about a quarter of all American teens between the ages of 13 and 18 suffer from an anxiety disorder. In addition, Major Depressive Disorder, also known as clinical depression or recurrent depression, affects 11.2% of the same age group at some point in their adolescence.
Anxiety and depression can be debilitating, often making sufferers feel helpless about their lives, and spurring them to repeat negative, fearful thoughts that lead to feelings of being overwhelmed. Depression is often linked to anxiety because of its effect on the mind and body, pushing patients to buckle under the stressful situations in their lives.
While there is no absolute cure to these illnesses, medication and psychotherapy have led the way in treating all types of mental illnesses. People with these disorders often undergo cognitive behavioral therapy to alter negative thinking patterns and reintroduce a positive outlook on life. Another popular therapy is interpersonal therapy, aimed at reducing stress and fearful feelings about relationships with others in a sufferer’s life.
These treatments have proven successful for many patients, and has sparked an influx of therapists, counselors and mental health professionals in recent years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are more than 552,000 mental health professionals currently practicing in the U.S., which includes 113,300 mental health counselors, and about 34,400 psychiatrists. These experts see thousands of patients every year, offering help on an emotional, mental and physical level.
With a combination of psychotherapy and medication, NIMH reports that the symptoms of mental disorders can be greatly reduced, and even be rendered manageable. The medications typically add more serotonin, considered the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, to the blood, and stimulate the body’s absorption of it as well. Psychotherapy helps patients change their self-perceptions, and offers them a different, more positive and realistic perspective on life’s challenges.
NIMH urges people suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental disorders at any age to seek the help of a professional as soon as possible. If left untreated, the illness could worsen, leading to other forms of mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder, a manic-depressive illness that causes extreme highs and lows in patients.
Therapy and medicines, along with possible changes in lifestyle, eating habits, and environment, could help a patient feel healthy, robust, and happy once again. These methods could also effectively combat the impact of these diseases on the future of the nation — its youth.