Good mental health is fundamental to overall health, to personal well-being, and to the ability to lead a healthy, balanced, and productive life. Mental health problems can impair a person's thinking, feeling, and behavior and can be serious and disabling. According to the U.S. Surgeon General's report on mental health, nearly half of all Americans with a severe mental illness fail to seek treatment.
Many people do not receive treatment for mental health problems due to a lack of awareness of the problem, fear of stigma, or lack of access to appropriate services. Yet, overall quality of life is greatly improved when a person with a mental health problem gets an early diagnosis and receives appropriate treatment.
Clinical depression is more than just the experience of feeling "blue; it is a treatable illness. Some common symptoms are:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Lack of pleasure in nearly all activities
- Significant unintended weight change
- Sleeping too much or too little nearly every day
- Feeling either agitated or slowed down
- Feeling tired nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide or a suicide attempt
Depression is not a moral weakness. It is as real and as disabling as heart disease, diabetes and other major illnesses. It is most commonly treated with a combination of counseling and antidepressant medication.
Click here to learn more about the St.Vincent Stress Center.
Holidays are a time of joy and celebration yet, for some, can also be stressful. The stress often comes from trying to create picture-perfect holidays which are unrealistic. Fortunately, the following "Holiday Stress Busters" can help.
- Plan Ahead. Have all ingredients on hand and, if possible, cook some of the meal ahead of time. Also, clean the house early.
- Simplify Cooking. Unless you derive great personal satisfaction by cooking from scratch, people will enjoy short-cuts (store bought food, fewer side dishes, etc.) if it means you're more relaxed during the meal.
- Let Others Help. With food preparation and cleanup.
- Get Take-Out. Many restaurants and even grocery stores offer pre-cooked holiday meals. This is a great solution for those who do not have the time or culinary ability.
The holiday season is generally thought of as a time of joy, but for many people, it is a time of loneliness. Some people live far from family and loved ones, others dread going to holiday parties and New Year's Eve without a partner. Holidays can also bring back memories of loved ones who have passed away.
- Take care of Yourself. Whether you exercise, get a massage, curl up with a good book, enjoy a hobby, or learn something new, take time to do things that will enhance your self esteem. Limit alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Avoid drugs.
- Share with Others. Talk to others who may share your feelings either via the internet or in person.
- Rethink Your Expectations. Realize that few people's lifestyles truly measure up to "movie standards" of perfect living and shift your focus to all the great things you do have in your life. Be flexible, relax, and remember the holiday season only comes around once a year.
- Get Connected. Whether you are saying hello to neighbors, exchanging friendly words with people at the office, or calling an old friend, reaching out to people and strengthening bonds can help you feel more connected.
- Give To Others. Donate your time to help those less fortunate. You will be immersed in the true spirit of the holiday season.
- Examine Your Feelings. You may want to examine what is behind your feelings of loneliness, either on your own or with the help of a therapist
- Know Your Budget. We may feel compelled to show how much we care by how much we can spend. This year, make a budget and stick with it. Check lists also help decrease impulse buying. Remember ‘thoughtful' does not have to mean ‘expensive'.
- Be Efficient. If you find a great gift at a great price, consider getting one for several people on your list, if it fits their tastes. Gift cards and certificates are a great option and remember to include gift receipts with your gifts.
- The Earlier, the Better. Don't postpone holiday shopping until the last minute. If you shop earlier, you won't get stuck in the last-minute rush at the malls and the post office.
- Give Yourself Plenty of Time. Whether on the road or in the airport, realize that everyone else is in a similar predicament. Slow down, take a deep breath and be courteous to your fellow travelers. Bring along items for distraction especially for small children.
- Consider Shopping Online. Online shopping is fast, simple, and efficient. In addition to saving you the fights over parking spaces and the long waits in lines, in many cases you can have your gifts wrapped and delivered directly to your recipients.
- Let the post office be your friend. Visit the USPS website to find out how to get a postal carrier to come to your door, pick up your packages, and deliver them for you.
Going to a family gathering when there is unresolved conflict, whether recent or from years ago, can be stressful. With conflict, even if both parties remain polite, feelings of pain and mistrust can linger under the surface. Bringing up old hurts can often backfire if the other party feels attacked. At the same time, holding onto resentment can poison feelings in the present. A holiday gathering is not the best time to rehash old conflicts.
If you feel strained in your relationship with your family (because sibling rivalry, in-law troubles, favoritism, divorce, etc.) you are not alone. With families of origin, people often regress to behavior patterns they had when they were younger. It can be stressful to feel pulled toward old patterns, especially if you have grown beyond those roles and they no longer reflect who you are. In the future you can:
- Try To Resolve The Conflict: At a time when all the family is not gathered, ask the person if they would like to discuss and resolve what happened in the past. Be open to seeing one another's point of view. See where each of you may have misunderstood the other or behaved in a way you would change if you could, offer sincere apologies. This can heal the relationship for the future.
- Forgive and Forget: If a civil meeting is unlikely, do not push it. It is probably a good idea to try and forgive the other person and let go of your feelings of resentment and anger.
- Limit or Cut Off Contact: If what the other person did was abusive, they have no remorse and you do not expect things to be different in the future, you can severely limit or cut off your contact altogether. This is normally a last-resort choice, but in cases of abuse, it is sometimes necessary for your own emotional health.