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 What is Mental Health?

Mental Health is how you feel about yourself, others, your life and how you are able to meet and handle the demands of life. Mental health is not the absence of problems. Rather, it describes the ability of the person to be flexible and resilient and able to address the problems with appropriate coping skills.

What is a Mental Illness?

Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders that can profoundly disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, moods, ability to relate to others, and capacity for coping with the demands of life. Mental illnesses include disorders such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and bi-polar disorder.

Who is Susceptible to Mental Illness?

Anyone may be susceptible to a mental illness. Psychiatric problems affect people of all ages, all income groups, all ethnic groups, all religious groups, urban and rural, male and female. No one is immune to a mental illness.

Isn’t Mental Illness a Rare Disorder?

Mental Disorders affect one-quarter of all Americans. On any given day one out of every 4 people you pass may be experiencing a mental illness. By this count more than 2 million of Ohio’s 11 Million citizens experience some form of mental disorder including 200,000 children.

What Causes Mental Illness?

Evidence indicates that mental illnesses are biological based diseases of the brain. Genetics can play a part, but people can develop a mental illness with no family history of mental illness. Others may be emotional or psychological reactions to environmental or social situations. Some of these disorders may be temporary, caused by extreme stress or life change.

Are There Warning Signs for Mental Illness?

Ten Warning Signs
1. Marked personality change,
2. Inability to cope with problems and daily activities,
3. Strange or grandiose ideas,
4. Excessive fears, worries and anxieties,
5. Prolonged depression, apathy, sadness or irritability,
6. Feelings of extreme highs and lows,
7. Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits,
8. Excessive anger, hostility or violent behavior,
9. Abuse of alcohol or drugs,
10. And thinking or talking about suicide

Do People Recover From a Mental Illness?

Yes, Treatment Works…People Recover! Advancements in medications are continually improving the recovery rate of individuals with a mental illness. Additionally in the past two decades the recovery movement has blossomed, while treatment and support services for mental illness have improved significantly. More and more people are receiving treatments that allow them to recover and lead healthy, successful, and independent lives.

What is Recovery?

The National Technical Assistance Center’s Mental Health Recovery: What Helps and What Hinders? report defines recovery as, “an ongoing dynamic interactional process that occurs between a person’s strengths, vulnerabilities, resources and the environment. It involves a personal journey of actively self-managing a psychiatric disorder while reclaiming, gaining, and maintaining a positive sense of self, roles and life beyond the mental health system, in spite of the challenge of a psychiatric disability. Recovery involves learning to approach each day’s challenges, to overcome disabilities, to live independently and to contribute to society. Recovery is supported by a foundation based on hope, belief, personal power, respect, connections and self-determination”.

What are the Recovery Rates With Treatment?

Condition – Recovery Rate
Bipolar Disorder – 80%
Major Depression – 70%
Panic Disorder – 70%
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – 70%
Schizophrenia – 60%

What Causes Addiction to Alcohol and Other Drugs?

Contrary to popular belief, addiction is NOT a moral or character defect. In fact, it is a complex brain disease. It is a chronic disease characterized by craving, seeking, and use that can persist even in the face of extremely negative consequences. Alcohol/Drug-seeking may become compulsive in large part as a result of the effects of prolonged use on brain functioning and, thus, on behavior. For many people, relapses are possible even after long periods of abstinence.

Is Addiction to Alcohol and Other Drugs More Prevalent In Certain Groups of Individuals?

No, anyone may become addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs. Addictions affect people of all ages, all income groups, all ethnic groups, all religious groups, urban and rural, male and female. No one is immune to an addiction.

How Many Ohioans are Affected by Addiction?

It is estimated that over 1.1 million or 1 in 10 Ohioans are addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs.

How Much Does It Cost Ohio When Addiction Goes Untreated?

It has been estimated that every year addiction costs Ohio as much as $10 Billion in terms of lost work productivity, injuries on the job, hospitalization and primary health care, traffic accidents, court hearings, incarceration, cash assistance to adults too impaired to work or hold a job and removal of children from addicted caregivers.

What Is the Difference Between Addiction and Abuse?

Drug or alcohol addiction is a diagnosable disease characterized by several factors including a strong craving for drugs/alcohol, continued use despite harm or personal injury, the inability to limit drug use/drinking, physical illness when using stops, and the need to increase the amount used in order to feel the effects. Drug abuse is the misuse of any substance, legal or illicit. Drug addiction develops from repeated drug abuse, and is believed to have genetic factors. Addiction can be characterized by a complete overhaul of one’s motivational factors, in which the individual strives only to get high.

How Quickly Can I Become Addicted to a Drug?

Although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we can’t predict how many times a person must use a drug before becoming addicted. A person’s genetic makeup, the genes that make each of us who we are, and the environment each play a role. What we do know is that a person who uses drugs risks becoming addicted, craving the drug despite its potentially devastating consequences.

How Do I Know if I Have a Substance Abuse Problem?

Drugs/alcohol is a problem if it causes trouble in your relationships, in school, in social activities, or in how you think and feel. If you are concerned that either you or someone in your family might have a substance problem, consult your personal physician.

How Do I Know if Someone Else is Addicted to Alcohol/Drugs?

If a person is compulsively seeking and using alcohol/drugs despite negative consequences, such as loss of job, debt, physical problems brought on by drug abuse, or family problems, then he or she probably is addicted. Seek professional help to determine if this is the case and, if so, work to get that person into the appropriate treatment.

How Many People with Addiction Actually Seek Treatment?

Approximately 25% of individuals needing treatment will actually seek it. The widespread societal stigma attached to addiction is cited as the major reason why people do not seek treatment.

How Effective is Treatment?

According to research that tracks individuals in treatment over extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning. However, individual treatment outcomes depend on the extent and nature of the patient’s problems, the appropriateness of treatment and related services used to address those problems, and the quality of interaction between the patient and his or her treatment providers.

What should you do if someone tells you they are thinking about suicide?

If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide, you should take their distress seriously, listen non-judgmentally, and help them get to a professional for evaluation and treatment. People consider suicide when they are hopeless and unable to see alternative solutions to problems. Suicidal behavior is most often related to a mental disorder (depression) or to alcohol or other substance abuse. Suicidal behavior is also more likely to occur when people experience stressful events (major losses, incarceration). If someone is in imminent danger of harming himself or herself, do not leave the person alone. You may need to take emergency steps to get help, such as calling 911. When someone is in a suicidal crisis, it is important to limit access to firearms or other lethal means of committing suicide.

Who has a higher suicide rate men or women?

More than four times as many men as women die by suicide; but women attempt suicide more often during their lives than do men, and women report higher rates of depression. Men and women use different suicide methods. Women in all countries are more likely to ingest poisons than men. In countries where the poisons are highly lethal and/or where treatment resources scarce, rescue is rare and hence female suicides outnumber males.

Who is at highest risk for suicide in the U.S.?

There is a common perception that suicide rates are highest among the young. However, it is the elderly, particularly older white males that have the highest rates. And among white males 65 and older, risk goes up with age. White men 85 and older have a suicide rate that is six times that of the overall national rate. Some older persons are less likely to survive attempts because they are less likely to recuperate. Over 70 percent of older suicide victims have been to their primary care physician within the month of their death, many did not tell their doctors they were depressed nor did the doctor detect it. This has led to research efforts to determine how to best improve physicians’ abilities to detect and treat depression in older adults.

Does depression increase the risk for suicide?

Although the majority of people who have depression do not die by suicide, having major depression does increase suicide risk compared to people without depression. The risk of death by suicide may, in part, be related to the severity of the depression. There are also dramatic gender differences in lifetime risk of suicide in depression. Whereas about 7 percent of men with a lifetime history of depression will die by suicide, only 1 percent of women with a lifetime history of depression will die by suicide.

Another way about thinking of suicide risk and depression is to examine the lives of people who have died by suicide and see what proportion of them were depressed. From that perspective, it is estimated that about 60 percent of people who commit suicide have had a mood disorder (e.g., major depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia). Younger persons who kill themselves often have a substance abuse disorder in addition to being depressed.

Does alcohol and other drug abuse increase the risk for suicide?

A number of recent national surveys have helped shed light on the relationship between alcohol and other drug use and suicidal behavior. A review of minimum-age drinking laws and suicides among youths age 18 to 20 found that lower minimum-age drinking laws was associated with higher youth suicide rates. In a large study following adults who drink alcohol, suicide ideation was reported among persons with depression. In another survey, persons who reported that they had made a suicide attempt during their lifetime were more likely to have had a depressive disorder, and many also had an alcohol and/or substance abuse disorder. In a study of all nontraffic injury deaths associated with alcohol intoxication, over 20 percent were suicides.

In studies that examine risk factors among people who have completed suicide, substance use and abuse occurs more frequently among youth and adults, compared to older persons. For groups at risk, such as American Indians and Alaskan Natives, depression and alcohol use and abuse are the most common risk factors for completed suicide. Alcohol and substance abuse problems contribute to suicidal behavior in several ways. Persons who are dependent on substances often have a number of other risk factors for suicide. In addition to being depressed, they are also likely to have social and financial problems. Substance use and abuse can be common among persons prone to be impulsive, and among persons who engage in many types of high risk behaviors that result in self-harm. Fortunately, there are a number of effective prevention efforts that reduce risk for substance abuse in youth, and there are effective treatments for alcohol and substance use problems.

Is it possible to predict suicide?

At the current time there is no definitive measure to predict suicide or suicidal behavior. Researchers have identified factors that place individuals at higher risk for suicide, but very few persons with these risk factors will actually commit suicide. Risk factors include mental illness, substance abuse, previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, history of being sexually abused, and impulsive or aggressive tendencies. Suicide is a relatively rare event and it is therefore difficult to predict which persons with these risk factors will ultimately commit suicide.

How would I know if someone I care about was contemplating suicide?

Often suicidal people will give warning signs, consciously or unconsciously, indicating that they need help and often in the hope that they will be rescued. These usually occur in clusters, so often several warning signs will be apparent. The presence of one or more of these warning signs should not be taken as a guarantee that the person is suicidal. The only way to know for sure is to ask them. In other cases, a suicidal person may not want to be rescued, and may avoid giving warning signs. Typical warning signs which are often exhibited by people who are feeling suicidal include:

1) Withdrawing from friends and family
2) Depression, broadly speaking; not necessarily a diagnosable mental illness such as clinical depression, but indicated by signs such as:

* Loss of interest in usual activities
* Showing signs of sadness, hopelessness, irritability
* Changes in appetite, weight, behavior, level of activity or sleep patterns
* Loss of energy
* Making negative comments about self
* Recurring suicidal thoughts or fantasies
* Sudden change from extreme depression to being `at peace’ (may indicate that they have decided to attempt suicide)

3) Talking, Writing or Hinting about suicide
4) Previous attempts
5) Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
6) Purposefully putting personal affairs in order:

* Giving away possessions
* Sudden intense interest in personal wills or life insurance
* ‘Clearing the air’ over personal incidents from the past

This list is not definitive: some people may show no signs yet still feel suicidal, others may show many signs yet be coping; the only way to know for sure is to ask. In conjunction with the risk factors listed above, this list is intended to help people identify others who may be in need of support.

If a person is highly perturbed, has formed a potentially lethal plan to kill themselves and has the means to carry it out immediately available, they would be considered likely to attempt suicide.

For additional help or information please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).