Your mental health experiences are valid. Mental health can range from feeling good and thriving to unhealthy situations or conditions that can negatively impact our quality of life and overall wellness if left unaddressed. We all experience a range of mental health experiences and move throughout this continuum throughout our lives.
What Impacts Our Mental Health?
Where we are on the mental health continuum–from thriving to distressed–is influenced by a number of factors. Some we can control and others we cannot. Understanding the difference can help us influence and improve our well-being.
Factors that we cannot always control:
- Upbringing/early life experiences
- Past trauma or difficult experiences
- Medical history
- Other people’s perception of us
- Other people’s treatment or mistreatment of us
- Access to quality mental health care
- Factors that we can often control:
- Our perceptions of mental health and help-seeking
- Coping strategies (healthy or unhealthy approaches)
- Self-esteem and sense of purpose
- Self-care routines including nutrition, sleep, exercise and mindfulness
- Stress levels and how we manage stress and anxiety
- Relationships with friends and family members (support network)
- Substance use
- Willingness to talk openly about our thoughts and feelings
Common Mental Health Conditions
Anxiety Disorders - Most of us experience anxiety at some point in our lives. Coping and self-care skills usually work to manage those feelings, but when anxiety continues at a level that interferes with your ability to get things done or maintain healthy relationships, you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.
Bipolar Disorder – bipolar disorder involves episodes of mania where a person feels extremely “up” — full of energy, elated, sometimes euphoric — and depressive periods where they feel sad, apathetic and hopeless. If unaddressed, this condition can severely interfere with daily life and well-being but is treatable once diagnosed.
Depression - Depression, also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, is more than just everyday sadness or going through a tough time. It is diagnosed as a medical condition when symptoms interfere with a person’s life for weeks or months. Depression is treatable, and there are ways to feel better.
Eating Disorders- eating disorders are more than a lifestyle choice or form of dieting. They are serious, sometimes fatal conditions involving severe alterations in eating behaviors and harmful body image issues. Eating disorders are also treatable and recovery is possible.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) involves recurring thoughts, often uncontrollable, that can cause extreme distress and behaviors — or compulsions — that are repeated many times to help relieve that distress, such as handwashing, putting things in order, and repeatedly rechecking to make sure things are locked or turned off.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing an event that is so shocking, scary or dangerous, their mind is unable to process it. Examples include natural disasters, accidents, sexual assault, violence, war and abuse. Untreated PTSD can interfere with a person’s ability to fully function.
Schizophrenia- Schizophrenia is a serious disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary; be unresponsive or withdrawn; and have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations. Contrary to public perception, schizophrenia is different from having a split personality or multiple personalities. Most people with schizophrenia are not violent and do not pose a danger to others. Schizophrenia is not caused by childhood experiences, poor parenting, or lack of willpower, nor are the symptoms identical for each person.
Substance Use Disorders - substance use disorder (SUD) — previously called substance abuse and/or addiction — occurs when alcohol or drug use contributes to health issues or interferes with work, school or home life. Substance misuse is associated with long-term health consequences, increased risk of suicide and fatal overdoses.
Mental Health Challenges
Our emotional struggles can be caused by a range of challenges. Naming and reflecting on them can help to manage and overcome them, and this are not something we have to face alone.
Negative Feelings – Some challenging or uncomfortable feelings can be good for us. For example, fear can keep us safe. Other times, feelings like anxiety, anger, and sadness interfere with enjoying our lives. Whether we understand the root of our feelings or not, it is important not to ignore them.
Difficult Experiences – We all experience bumps in the road of life. Break-ups, financial difficulties, discrimination or another one of life’s challenges can create emotional hurdles that take some work – and support to overcome or manage.
Trauma - Trauma is an intense emotional response to overwhelming events like violent acts, sexual assault, natural disasters or ongoing abuse. The signs of trauma do not always show up immediately and can last for months or years. Mental health professionals can help individuals cope with trauma and prevent or lessen long-term impact.
Mental Health Conditions - Like physical illnesses, mental health conditions are diagnosed by a specific set of symptoms, and most are treatable or manageable. If difficult thoughts, feelings or behaviors interfere with your quality of life, you may be dealing with a treatable condition. The sooner you reach out for support, the sooner you can feel better.
Harmful Behaviors – Unaddressed mental health conditions or trauma can lead people to substance use disorders, self-harm, or considering suicide. It’s important to look out for those warning signs, and if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately, DIAL 988 to connect with the National Suicide Hotline; Orange County Crisis Call Center is the local 988 provider.
If you or someone you know needs support, DIAL 311 or 1-800-832-1200 to connect with the Orange County Crisis Call Center Counselors for support and connection to Orange County resources 24/7.