Our mental health is everything. It determines our state of mind, our worldview, our relationships, and our ability to cope with everyday life.
Let’s be realistic: we live in a complex and rapidly changing world, and since the pandemic, mental health problems have become evident not only in Chile, but throughout the world. The good news is that we can all do a lot to maintain our mental well-being.
At some point, anyone can experience mental health problems.
No one is immune to the occasional blues, but prolonged mood swings can signal something more serious, so it’s important to know how we’re feeling.
Anyone can suffer from mental health problems; indeed, according to the World Health Organization, one in eight people worldwide suffer from it. That’s almost a billion people, so if you’re one of them, you’re not alone.
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental illnesses and seem to be on the rise. Indeed, according to the May 2023 Mental Health Thermometer produced by the Catholic University and the Chilean Association for Safety (ACHS), 17.5% of the Chilean population has symptoms or suspected problems of this type.2. This figure is 2 points higher than the previous measurement published in November 2022.
Causes of mental health problems
Like any organ, the brain can show signs of distress at any stage of life, and many factors can influence this. Biological factors such as genes or brain chemistry are important.
If you have a family history of mental health problems, you are more likely to be at risk too. External factors also play a role: long-term stress can affect mental health, and traumatic experiences can greatly affect brain chemistry.
Not everything is “in the head”
Often the changes are so gradual that we don’t always notice the symptoms. Or we ignore them and wait for them to pass.
“One of the most common mental health problems in our environment is mood disorders,” says Rodolfo Filippi, psychiatrist, member of PSIFAM and the Institute of Applied Psychopharmacology.
“Symptoms to look out for include mood swings, difficulty enjoying daily activities, or feelings of sadness or emptiness. These symptoms may be accompanied by changes in appetite, sleep disturbances such as sleeping more than usual or much less, lack of energy, problems with memory, concentration, or a feeling of being unable to switch off. In turn, all these symptoms interfere with daily tasks, such as going to work or school, causing stress or making more effort than before to achieve them.
There may also be physical symptoms. “Mental health issues can also cause heart palpitations, chest tightness, unexplained pain, and weight gain or loss,” adds Filippi.
If left untreated, mental health problems can make daily life, work, and social relationships difficult. The ripple effect on physical health puts people with mental health problems at greater risk of other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.
Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to the mood and seek help at the first warning sign. However, often people are embarrassed to ask for help.
“The stigma associated with mental health symptoms can discourage people from seeking medical attention,” says Dr. Milagro Sosa, chief medical officer at Abbott.
“There is a belief that needing help is a sign of weakness, but it is not. Like any illness, mental health requires the right care, diagnosis, and therapy to help you rebalance your life.
Habits that improve your mood
Simple lifestyle changes can help improve mental health. “A nutritious diet promotes healthy brain chemistry, while sugary foods and alcohol can worsen mood swings and are best avoided. It is very important to get a good night’s sleep at the right time,” says Rodolfo Filippi.
Physical exercise is also a good idea. “Research shows that regular exercise can be beneficial for people with depression,” says Milagro Sosa.
“Physical activity not only takes your mind off your worries, it also boosts brain chemicals that lift your spirits and make you feel good,” she adds.
Of course, you don’t have to run a marathon: regular walks in the park can help; if you can do it with a friend, even better9. Even if you don’t feel like talking about your business, just spending time with loved ones can revive you.
“With the advice of a doctor and the support of others, you can restore your mental well-being and lead a fulfilling and fulfilling life,” says the expert.
Taking care of your mental health is important, so the call for professionals is to be alert to symptoms and seek help if needed.