Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it is a great opportunity to reflect on the importance of mental health and the progress mental health awareness has made over the years. While the stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health has improved, it still exists and prevents people from seeking treatment.
History of National Mental Health Month
Millions of people in the U.S. have experienced a mental illness, so the odds are that you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder. Speaking about mental health used to be taboo, but it has become more normalized over time thanks to awareness such as mental health month, which began in 1949. There are also a variety of nonprofit groups dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of mental health, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Additionally, countless celebrities have become outspoken mental health advocates over the years and publicly discussed their own mental health struggles. These open dialogues can encourage others who are struggling to seek treatment.
Various Mental Health Disorders and Symptoms
Many different mental health disorders come with a range of various symptoms, unique to each individual. Mental health disorders are most prevalent in individuals ages 18 to 25. Some of the most common mental health disorders include depression and anxiety, but there are many more, such as:
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
While each mental health disorder has a set of specific symptoms, there are some common signs that indicate you may need treatment:
- Dark or suicidal thoughts
- Prolonged sadness or anger
- Extreme mood changes
- Self-solation or withdrawal from family
- Dramatic changes in performance at school or work
It takes a professional to diagnose a mental health disorder. Because addiction and mental health are commonly linked, seeking professional help after you’ve experienced unhealthy mental health symptoms is crucial.
Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use
Nearly half the people who have a severe mental disorder also experience a substance use disorder. Mental health and substance use are closely linked due to a few main factors, such as:
- Self-medicating mental illness: People with mental health disorders often turn to substances, such as alcohol, to lessen their symptoms, leading to dependency or addiction.
- Substances worsening mental disorders: In some cases, an already existing substance use disorder could worsen a mental illness or create new symptoms.
- Genetic factors increasing the risk of mental illness: Someone with a family history of addiction or mental illness is more prone to developing an addiction or disorder, increasing the likelihood of a co-occurring disorder.
Because mental health disorders and substance use are often co-occurring, different signs identify the overlap between the two disorders. Some of these signs include:
- Using substances to cope with unpleasant memories or feelings
- Feeling anxious or depressed when sober
- Experiencing severe changes in mood or behavior
- Neglecting physical health or hygiene
- Using substances to handle stressful situations
- Experiencing difficulties managing work or school
Someone with a mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorder needs to seek professional help. Only a professional can identify both disorders and form an accurate dual diagnosis.
Contact Gateway Foundation for Mental Illness and Substance Use Treatment
At Gateway Foundation, we have over 50 years of experience treating co-occurring mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Our compassionate staff has a strong background in providing evidence-based treatment plans tailored to your needs. This way, you will receive care that treats your addiction and mental health disorder.
We work to uncover the reason behind your substance use disorder with a variety of different therapies, such as:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Acceptance and commitment therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Group and individual therapy
Our wide array of different therapy programs provides you with an effective support system of people who share your experiences and a network of continued strength. Our individualized treatment can contribute to long-lasting results and guide you on your journey to a sober life. To learn more about our dual-diagnosis therapy treatments, contact us today and begin your journey to sobriety.