It’s currently very clear that all of the following disorders can be the result of both genetic and environmental causes, the latter factor often triggering the former. Here we’ll discuss 6 common behavioral and mental health disorders and ways you can manage them.
What can be described as clinical depression—as opposed to those periods of sadness that we all experience from time to time—involves a number of constant, prolonged symptoms:
- Anhedonia (difficulty or inability to feel joy or pleasure);
- Lethargy and mental fatigue;
- Insomnia or hypersomnia;
- Persistent moods of anger, frustration, and irritation;
- Increased or reduced appetite;
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and an over-fixation on one’s shortcomings or past failures;
- Recurring thoughts of suicide and death.
Depression can also involve physical symptoms like back pain, muscle pain, and headaches.
- Reach out to people and stay connected—human connection is essential.
- Get out of your head by helping someone else. This goes a long way in making yourself feel better.
- Resist the urge to hole up in your home—go to events, concerts, or even small get-togethers with your friends.
Typically comorbid with depression, having chronic anxiety involves intense levels of anxiety in situations or over issues that don’t warrant it.
We all experience anxiety in life—it’s a survival mechanism and we couldn’t survive without it. However, chronic anxiety is not “healthy anxiety”. It involves:
- A persistent sense of paranoia, tension, nervousness, and impending doom;
- Panic attacks which usually include hyperventilation (rapid, heavy breathing), racing heart, and sweating;
- Lethargy (anxiety can take a massive toll on your body);
- Difficulty concentrating and staying on top of work, school, and life in general.
- Sit in a quiet place and map out your own thought patterns. Question whether or not they are really reflective of what’s going on in your life. You’ll be surprised to find that they are usually overblown and exaggerated distortions of reality.
- Practice focused, deep breathing.
- Exercise—the natural brain chemicals this releases will give you more confidence, peace, and a sense of control over your life.
Another name for Bipolar Disorder is manic-depressive disorder, as it involves swinging between very low levels of depression and very high levels of euphoria and mania.
During the depressive stage, one experiences the symptoms of deep depression—the manic phase, on the other hand, is often characterized by feelings of intense euphoria, excitement, confidence, impulsivity and reckless behavior, delusional thinking, and even hallucinations.
Managing Bipolar Disorder
- Develop and stick to a daily schedule to help stabilize your mood swings.
- Set specific times for meals, socializing, exercising, working, and sleeping.
- Maintaining a regular pattern of activity, even through your emotional ups and downs, can provide you with more balance.
Substance Abuse Disorder
Substance abuse disorder involves compulsively consuming substances in order to change one’s state of consciousness, even at the expense of one’s health, finances, and relationships.
Substance abuse disorder typically coincides with a mental health issue of some kind, but there are also more concrete genetic factors that play a role.
For instance, researchers have discovered what you might call an “infectious agent”—an RNA virus called human endogenous retrovirus-K HML-2—which integrates into a gene and affects dopamine activity.
It’s no surprise that this RNA integration is found more often in those with drug and alcohol addiction than in those without it.
Environmental factors that typically contribute to substance abuse disorder include:
- Trauma and abuse;
- Toxic family dynamics;
- Peer pressure;
- And even social media (and media in general).
Managing Substance Abuse Disorder
- Recognize your triggers—those situations or events that make you want to use drugs or alcohol—and adjust your lifestyle so as to avoid these triggers.
- Find a support group—there are many people maintaining their recovery and they are more than happy to lend you the support you need.
- Start going to Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous groups.
- Find a sponsor—it’s always good to have someone you can turn to in moments of crisis.
It may be taboo to talk about, but many people think about suicide. It’s easy when, under massive amounts of stress or uncertainty, to consider just ending it all.
That said, suicidal ideation differs from these more innocuous thoughts of suicide in that it actually involves serious contemplation, planning, and arranging one’s life around their eventual suicide.
It is most frequent in people between the ages of 15 and 24, as well as those over 60.
Managing Suicidal Ideation
Suicidal ideation is based in thought—likewise, so is managing it.
- Problem-solve—find little ways of making your life situation better. You can’t solve all of your problems at once, but when you begin to see small improvements, you will start to see hope.
- Consider all of the different reasons for living. These could be trivial or very important, it doesn’t matter. There are many reasons to want to stay alive—friends, family, pets, goals, ambitions, or even just to see another sunset.
- Consider what has helped you in the past and make these a staple of your life.
The act of self harm is rarely an actual suicide attempt—rather, it is a coping strategy or, more rarely, a cry for help.
Self harm typically involves cutting, but can also include burning or deliberately putting oneself in situations where personal harm can occur.
- As with substance abuse disorder, it’s important to be conscious of your triggers and avoid them at all costs.
- Set up a plan for something you can do when the urge to self-harm arises that is health. Exercise is a great example.
- Simple distractions can go a long way—call up a friend, go for a walk, paint a picture, etc.
There Is Support Out There—All You Need To Do Is Reach Out
There are many wellness centers and caring people whose sole career path is helping people with behavioral and mental health disorders.
With their guidance, including therapy and possibly the right medication, people can and do learn to manage and overcome these problems.