Mental Health is as Important as Physical Health

Notes from the Nurse Logo**Editor’s Note: This is part of an informational series called Notes from the Nurse to increase awareness and understanding of health or clinical issues that could impact our clients and their families.

It is no surprise we are seeing increases in anxiety and depression as there is so much uncertainty in everyone’s lives right now.

The Kaiser Family Foundation data shows that 36.5% of U.S. adults report symptoms of anxiety or depression in June 2020, which is more than three times the 11% reported from January to June 2019. In New Jersey, data shows that 35.1% of adults reported anxiety or depression symptoms, which is slightly lower than the national average.

Coronavirus has seriously impacted everyone’s mental health, especially older Americans, who are isolated for protection from the virus.

If someone has never had anxiety, they might not know what they are feeling or even be willing to admit they are feeling anxious or not even know they are having symptoms of anxiety. Common signs and symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feeling nervous
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Worrying more than normal
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling panicked or doomed

Depression is a medical issue that impacts how you normally feel and act while causing feelings of sadness and/or loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed doing, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Some of the common signs and symptoms include:

  • Losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Loss or increase of appetite that is not related to dieting
  • Too much/too little sleep
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Considering the state of the world right now, people of all ages are feeling these symptoms, which is normal as people grapple with bad news and worry. The World Health Organization cites that close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, as of August 2020.

One good thing that might come out of the whole pandemic is the increased attention being paid to mental health, especially among seniors as they tend to be very isolated. More and more mainstream media are talking about the issue, which will help erase the stigma. The more light we can shine on this issue, the better so people can realize that they are not alone and there are pathways to get help for the way they are feeling.

October is the month we focus on mental health, with Oct. 8 designated as National Depression Screening Day and Oct. 10 as World Mental Health Day.

If you or your loved one is displaying any of these symptoms, please reach out your doctor or any medical professional you feel comfortable talking to.

There are many support resources available. In New Jersey, the National Alliance on Mental Health New Jersey and the New Jersey state mental health resources and 2-1-1 crisis hotline are readily available and your medical professional can offer more recommendations for your specific needs.

Next: My Loved One Is Struggling With Their Mental Health, Now What?


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