✎ Written by: Dubravka Rebic
Mental health awareness has come a long way in the past few decades. Not more than 50 years ago, mental health was considered something that shouldn't be discussed, but luckily the conversation surrounding the topic has shifted. Today, we are fortunate enough to be able to talk about mental health more openly than we were in the past.
In fact, mental health awareness is now promoted in schools, celebrities are speaking out about their emotional well-being in interviews and on social media. Although some stigma persists, a survey from 2019 showed that most Americans have formed positive views about mental health and treatment. The majority (87%) even said that they are in favor of being more open about conversations surrounding mental health.
However, despite these moves in the right direction, there's still much room for improvement as well as a lot of overlooked information that should be widely known. So, as Mental Health Awareness Month comes to an end, let's review some lesser-known mental health facts to help raise awareness and emphasize the importance of adequate care.
1. Global Dementia Cases Are Forecasted to Nearly Triple by 2050
Dementia is a term used to describe various signs and symptoms related to cognitive decline, such as memory loss and impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions. It's more common as people grow older (about one-third of all people aged 85 or older may have some form of dementia), but it is not a normal part of aging, and it can severely affect a person's functioning.
Every three seconds, someone in the world is diagnosed with some form of dementia. Currently, this translates into nearly 57 million new cases a year worldwide. Importantly, according to recent research, the number of people with dementia will nearly triple to more than 152 million around the world by 2050 (all ages combined). The predicted rise is largely down to population growth and aging, but researchers state that an unhealthy lifestyle can contribute too.
Lifestyle factors that may increase the risk of developing dementia include a poor diet, smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, lack of exercise, and not keeping the brain active and stimulated enough.
Luckily, there are things you can do to potentially reduce the risk of dementia and keep your brain healthy. Read more about it in our blog.
2. The Average Age of Diagnosis for Women With ADHD Is 36 to 38 Years Old
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neuro-behavioral disorder characterized by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity. Because this condition was traditionally thought to affect mostly men, but also because women tend to have less obvious or socially disruptive symptoms, many women with ADHD are misdiagnosed or diagnosed later in life.
In fact, according to Dr. Patricia Quinn, author of Understanding Women with ADHD, for women not diagnosed in childhood, the average age of ADHD diagnosis is 36 to 38 years old. Before that time, girls and women are often misdiagnosed as having depression or an anxiety disorder.
One of the reasons behind late diagnosis is the lack of understanding of symptoms in women. For example, hyperactivity can present differently between sexes. Women with hyperactive type of ADHD tend to be hyperverbal or hyperreactive (crying often or slamming doors) – behaviors one may not typically think of as being associated with ADHD.
And because these symptoms don't look like "typical" ADHD symptoms, they're often dismissed or misdiagnosed. As a result, many women struggle with ADHD symptoms well into adulthood, which can leave them feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and insecure.
3. Around 50% Of LGBTQ+ Teens Suffered From Severe Negative Thoughts in the Past Year
Lack of family support, cyberbullying, and unmet medical needs contribute to higher rates of depression and severe negative thoughts amongst LGBTQ+ teens. To be exact, LGBTQ+ teens are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than the general population.
Furthermore, new research from the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health also shows that 50% of LGBTQ+ teens (ages 13–17) seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. In this age group, 18% actually committed a suicide attempt, which is more than twice the rate of suicide attempts among all US teens.
As the researchers state, LGBTQ+ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but rather placed at higher risk because they are mistreated and stigmatized by society.
4. Nearly 50% Of People Diagnosed With Depression Are Also Diagnosed With Anxiety
If you have ever experienced anxiety or depression, you know they can feel very different. With anxiety, you may have overwhelming feelings of worry, nervousness, and fear, while the main symptom of depression is typically a lingering low, sad, or helpless mood. Yet these two disorders tend to go hand in hand.
In fact, studies show that nearly 50% of people who meet the criteria for major depression are also suffering from an anxiety disorder.
These two disorders have a lot of symptoms in common and involve very similar thought patterns. For example, anxiety often involves irritability, and some people with depression may feel more irritable than sad. Other shared symptoms are restlessness, fatigue, problems with concentration, and sleep disturbances.
However, apart from sharing similar symptoms, anxiety and depression have one more crucial thing in common: they can improve with proper treatment and care.
5. Over 50% Of Those With Mental Health Risks Do Not Seek Help
More than half of all people globally with clinical level mental health risks do not seek any help from mental health professionals. The most common reasons are not knowing what kind of help to seek and thinking that reaching out won’t make a difference.
However, according to the data collected, the primary reason respondents offered for not seeking help was a preference for self-help. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they preferred to manage their challenges on their own or didn’t think they needed any mental health treatment. This explanation was followed by “a lack of knowledge of what kind of help to seek or where to get it (34%) and a lack of confidence in mental health treatment (28%).”
Even though self-help techniques such as mediation or exercise can alleviate symptoms of certain mental health conditions, they are often not enough. And the longer the struggle persists, the more difficult it can be to treat and recover. That's why it's important to work on breaking the stigma associated with mental health and promoting efforts for timely treatment and recovery.
You can do that by engaging in open and honest conversations about your mental health and mental health in general. If you notice or suspect that someone you know might be struggling with their mental health, you can approach the topic by:
Asking questions rather than giving direct advice: Instead of saying, "I think you should seek professional help," start the conversation by saying, "What do you think about the idea of going to therapy?".
Placing their well-being at the core of the discussion: Avoid showing frustration with how their mood is impacting you and show empathy and concern by using "I" statements that can help them feel less lectured or blamed. For example: "I'm concerned about you."
Talking about going to therapy as a normal part of life: Try to explain to them that seeking professional help is no different than going to a medical doctor for physical illness. If you've gone to therapy, you can share your experiences with them, too. This way, you'll let them know they aren't alone in seeking help.
Supporting them with the information it takes to find help: For example, you could share websites of local therapists or support groups, talk to them about different treatments they can seek out, or explain what their first therapy session might look like.
By using your voice to fight stigma, raise awareness, and support others, you can make a difference and improve the lives of people struggling with mental health struggles. You can pave the way for lasting change and leave your mark in the joint effort for our society to live in a world where people with mental health conditions feel safe, supported, heard, and affirmed.
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About the author:
Dubravka Rebic puts a lot of time and energy into researching and writing in order to help create awareness and positive change in the mental health space. From poring over scientific studies to reading entire books in order to write a single content piece, she puts in the hard work to ensure her content is of the highest quality and provides maximum value.
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