Migraines and Mental Health - Mental Health Month 2014
Especially given the fact that 45% of people with migraine also have to deal with depression, it's appropriate that we observe Mental Health Month and consider it a time to evaluate our own health and take any steps we may need to in order to optimize our health. This is a perfect opportunity to remember that we need to treat ourselves holistically, addressing both body and mind.
Mental Health America (MHA) created Mental Health Month 65 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for all. Their them for this year is, "Mind Your Health," and there are two primary objectives:
- Raise awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and its preventive factors and benefits for mind and body.
- Build broad public recognition around the role of mental health to overall health.
Mental Health America offers the following key messages supporting the objectives:
- Mental health is integral to our overall health. The mind and body are intricately connected; there can be “no health without mental health.”
- When a person has “good” mental health, they deal better with what comes their way.
- Poor mental health can significantly harm a person’s general health
- Stress has a huge impact on our lives and can make even day-to-day life difficult. Research shows that stress is closely linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. It also shows that people who feel depressed or chronically stressed may have a greater risk of physical illnesses.
- The good news is there are many healthy choices and steps that individuals can adopt to promote and strengthen mental health—and overall health and well-being.
- A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems. It can also help people recover from these conditions.
- Everyone can take steps to protect and strengthen their minds and bodies.
- Living a healthy lifestyle may not be easy, but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes.
- If positive lifestyle changes aren’t helping a person’s mental health – they should seek help, and the MHA network is available to assist them in finding it.
MHA also points out these key statistics:
- Nearly 1-in-5 Americans over age 18 will experience a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year1, and nearly half (46.4%) will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime.
- Approximately 70% of Americans experience physical and non-physical symptoms of stress, but only 37% think they are doing very well at managing stress.
- More than 2/3 of American adults are either obese or overweight.
- One in six Americans over age 18 binge drink. Excessive drinking (binge drinking and heavy drinking) causes approximately 80,000 deaths each year.
- Nearly half (48%) of Americans report not getting enough sleep, with women feeling so more than men.
- While it is estimated that approximately half of US adults use supplements, only 23% of supplements used were recommended by a health care professional.
- Relationships and social connections are important. Low level of social interaction was found to have an impact on lifespan equivalent to smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic, and was twice as harmful as being obese.
- Half of American adults do not get the recommended amounts of aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise.
I realize that just as there is stigma associated with migraine disease, there's also stigma associated with depression and other mental health conditions, but we can't let that stop us from taking care of ourselves. There is no shame in depression or other mental health conditions. These conditions don't mean that we're weak, overly emotional, or less deserving of love and respect. They simply mean we have a disease or illness, just as if we had diabetes, epilepsy, or multiple sclerosis.
If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health condition, please talk with your doctor. There are many excellent treatments available, and getting the help we need can mean a great improvement in our lives, including our overall health. Many migraine and headache clinics have mental health professionals on staff to help us deal with depression, if needed, and to help us with the coping skills needed to live with migraine and other headache disorders. You can ask to see one of them during your appointment with your migraine and headache specialist.
If you've already been diagnosed with depression or another mental health condition, now is the perfect time to evaluate how you're doing and, if necessary, talk with your doctor about new or additional treatment.
Please remember what MHA said in one of their key messages above:
no health without mental health
I can tell you from my own experience how very true that message is. Please take it to heart, and take care of yourself - body and mind.
Mental Health America. "Mental Health Month 2014 Memo." April 1, 2014.
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© Teri Robert, 2014, • Last updated May 13, 2014.