Happy Monday, everybody! Cara Santa Maria here. For those of you who don't already know, this month we have been discussing the science of mental health. I want to thank everybody for your questions, comments, and criticisms so far. They've been extremely engaging and challenging. I've also noticed from a lot of your comments that a discussion of the mental heath concerns that we encounter in our daily lives would be a good direction to go next. So, this week, I want to talk about common mental illnesses.
For example, gloriaswanson43 says that: "I'm glad you're doing this one. I'd like to know more about the chemical side of depression. All I currently know is I'm on a daily pill that seems to work."
While blueken replies: "Good luck getting an answer to that one. My wife has been in therapy for almost 20 years. All we can get out of the medical community is a vague 'chemical imbalance' in the brain. No one right now can define the proper 'chemical balance' of a brain. It's all trial and error. If you have a therapy that works, be thankful. Perhaps with CAT scans and MRIs we will learn more in the future."
I think it is important that these issues are discussed. Did you know that around 26% of the general population is living with a mental disorder? This number doesn't even include individuals who are homeless or currently living in an institution, so its likely that that estimate much higher. Its likely that you or someone you know is living with a mental illness. Anxiety disorders are the most common, followed by mood disorders (such as depression), impulse-control problems, and substance disorders (like alcoholism or drug abuse and dependency).
Have you personally dealt with a mental illness? Do you feel like you were satisfactorily diagnosed? Are you currently in treatment? How has this affected your daily functioning?
And what about your loved ones? Often times, we hear discussions about how to manage our own mental health, but what about those we love? What are the challenges we face in marriage or parenthood when someone we love is depressed, anxious, or dependent on drugs?
I want to discuss these disorders in detail this week, including symptomatology and underlying brain differences, diagnostic criteria, current treatments, and what the scientific literature has to say about them. If you or someone you love has a mental illness, or if you're simply interested in what we have to say, I hope that you'll join the conversation. Thanks everybody. I look forward to talking nerdy this week -- about the science of common mental illnesses -- with all of you.