May is Mental Health Awareness Month, during which the free National Anxieties Disorders Screening Day is held. Consider what Kim Bassinger, Marc Summers and football great Earl Campbell have in common. They have all suffered from an anxiety disorder, America’s most common mental illness. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, nearly a quarter of the American adult population will suffer from an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. Unlike normal worries, these individuals can experience a variety of symptoms which can include spontaneous panic attacks, endlessly checking and rechecking their actions, persistent, uncontrollable worry and social anxiety, which interferes with their lives.
The symptoms of anxiety disorders are characterized by fear and anxiety that appear for no apparent reason. Anxiety disorders include Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Phobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Left untreated, these conditions often become accompanied by depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. Although most sufferers never connect with appropriate treatment, effective treatments do exist, which can offer relief within a relatively short period of time.
The first week of every October is designated as Mental Illness Awareness Week, during which the National Depression Screening Day is held. Consider what Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, and Brooke Shields have in common. They have all suffered from clinical depression. Depression and manic-depression strike more than 17 million Americans each year, according to figures from the National Institute of Mental Health. Fewer than half, however, actually seeks treatment, despite the fact that treatment can help 80 – 90 percent of those affected.
Common symptoms of depression include feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, restlessness and irritability, changes in sleep and appetite, loss of energy and thoughts of death or suicide. Manic-depression includes feelings of euphoria or agitation. Clinical depression is more than just the ‘blues. It is a real, pervasive condition that even has the potential to be life threatening. A sufferer has no better chance to “just snap out of it” than someone, for example, with a seizure disorder simply controlling their attacks.
The screenings initiatives are invaluable opportunities for people, who might otherwise be timid about discussing their concerns or symptoms, to do so without feeling pressured.