Depression is something that some never have to encounter, but for those of us who have experienced it, it can be as crippling as any physical impairment. It lives in the back of your brain, waiting to pounce at any vulnerability it senses, like a shark smelling for blood. It is out to pick at your worst fears and most hated parts of yourself; and it is designed to use them against you.
As a young girl, I always knew something about my mind was different from the other young girls in my grade. This was for nothing other than the fact that I did not sense that lingering sadness living in any of other the other children. I felt that anyone who looked at me for more than five seconds would be overwhelmed by its presence in my body language. But when I looked around, I was not overwhelmed by it’s presence in anyone other than myself. However, at the time, all it was, was an observation. My immaturity and naivety prevented me from connecting what was going on in my head to the physical reality right in front of me. This blurred line continued throughout my life.
In high school, this lingering sadness turned into a mind altering and crippling paranoia that everyone was constantly staring at me, judging me, being bombarded by my oozing discomfort in every day life. This is also known as anxiety. Many do not realize that when one mental illness is left unkempt others can, and likely will, spawn from it. They are very different and can act on their own, but when they come together, it can feel deadly. “It’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
All too many people are suffering from symptoms relating to a mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, just over 18 percent of all adults in the United States suffer from mental illness. But people do not know about it. People do not understand it and people do not talk about it. Its becoming a serious problem.
The best way to prevent mental illness from spiraling out of control is to treat it. Face it head on. Understand the severity of the situation and grab it by the neck. However, how can we understand how to prevent mental illness without first being educated on what it is and how to help ourselves? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, many who experience treatable mental illnesses are still not getting the treatment they need. “Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.” Not getting treatment not only decreases one’s mental and physical abilities, but also increases the country’s health care bill. “Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s $148 billion total mental health bill,” according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
A society unaware of the impacts of mental illness and how to seek help costs America a lot of money and resources. More importantly, it comes at the cost of the society’s ability to function. “Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14-21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This organization also claims life longevity is impacted by mental health. “Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions,” it says. “Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.”
Once someone begins to understand the problem and how to seek help, many still refuse to follow through while the mental illness convinces them they are fine. This is a problem in our country. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, “despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.”
Educating people about this important aspect of their lives could prevent long delays in seeking treatment and increase the overall quality of life for many in the country. This could lead to mental healthcare reform and access to the proper resources for the people suffering with these illnesses.