It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, which was created by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and takes place each year during the first week of October. The goal: to educate, raise awareness, and stop stigma surrounding mental illness.
According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.9 million people in the U.S. experience both a mental disorder and substance use disorder simultaneously. Either disorder — substance use or mental illness — can develop first.
Due to a mix of hormones, cultural pressures, and a higher risk for physical and emotional abuse, women are particularly susceptible to depression, anxiety, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder, note experts. And yet you might not always be aware of the warning signs.
While each illness has its own symptoms, the NAMI recommends watching for the following red flags:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits, such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
Take Back Your Mental Health
Perhaps the best way you can celebrate MIAW is to seek help if you or someone you love is struggling with a co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder. At Rising Roads, our staff is here to help you take your physical and mental health back. To learn more about our psychiatric consultations, call us today: 866-746-1558.