Mental Health Awareness Through the Holidays

Mental health and wellness is a topic that’s becoming more widely discussed among communities. This comes, as more people are comfortable talking about their own struggles and as peers offer compassion and empathy to understand those around them. It can be easy to assume that other people don’t deal with mental health disorders when it isn’t talked about or when people act as though they are always happy about what’s going on in their life. The reality is 25 percent of Americans live with a mental disorder, and some people struggle with multiple at the same time. But how do these disorders actually affect people and their overall health? 

There are handfuls of mental disorders that people live with, but two that are often discussed include anxiety and depression. Anxiety is a natural reaction our mind and body have when dealing with a stressful or unfamiliar situation. Although this is normal for all people on occasion, anxiety disorders are more intense and persistent feelings of worry and fear for everyday encounters. These feelings range from moderate to severe depending on the person. Hormone imbalances can greatly affect our anxiety levels, as our neurotransmitters don’t communicate information the way they would if hormone levels were in normal range. Depression is different than anxiety, as it’s considered a serious illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. These feelings are much more intense than someone being sad, this causes deep sadness and withdrawal from one’s daily life.

During the holidays it is common for those already struggling with anxiety and depression to feel additional stress. In addition, there are studies showing that people who begin showing signs of anxiety and depression, may develop these disorders following the holiday season if not addressed and treated. Stress can be brought on by a number of reasons including hosting family, mourning loved ones that may no longer be living, finances or having to stick to a tight budget, as well as having to “act” in social situations around others who have different political and social views. It is important during these high stress moments to take time to get needed rest, fuel our selves nutritionally, and stay active with exercise. When we take care of our bodies we reduce our risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, and more!

We can take care of our selves and our loved ones by looking out for signs and symptoms that one’s mental health needs attention. Signs may include excessive use of alcohol or other substances, trouble sleeping, tiredness, and feelings of hopelessness. Self-medicating with different substances can give a feeling of temporary relief, but in reality will not help the problem at its root. It is important that professional help is sought if necessary as doctors can help get patients on track to improve one’s mental state. People may also opt for support groups or prescription medication if needed. These methods are sustainable and are used widely in the U.S. With proper support from those around us, we can work toward more positive mental health outcomes.


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