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Mental Health Myths

Getting medical care for our legs and arms and feet is one thing. We can see those parts of our body, and if, for instance, we trip over something and sprain our ankle, we can see the resultant bruise and make the very sensible decision to go to a doctor’s office and get it checked out. The brain is another matter. We can’t see it unless we’re using some sort of medical imaging in a lab setting, and, generally speaking, it’s a lot harder to understand things that we can’t see. Our brain is a wonderful, mysterious organ that even the best doctors and scientists don’t completely understand. It’s complex and hard to figure out in a lot of ways. All of that means people who have mental issues ranging from personality disorders to depression and anxiety generally have a harder time both seeking help and getting the right kind of help. There are some myths that way too many people still believe when it comes to what’s going on in your head.

“You just need to toughen up”

Way too many people, especially as children and teenagers, go to their parents because something isn’t right and get told that they just need to toughen up and deal with it on their own. The biggest problem with that is most people dealing with a mental illness would love nothing more than to wake up one day and will themselves not to feel sad or anxious anymore. It takes so long to get treatment because we keep going and hope that one day we’ll suddenly feel better without having to take any sort of action. And sometimes that happens, but only temporarily. Certain situations can exacerbate mental health conditions, and if those conditions get better, the depression or bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder might get a bit better as well. But they usually come back at the worst possible time. People who tell a loved one to just “deal with it” may think they’re doing that person a favor, but they’re actually making it a lot harder to speak up. And people who don’t speak up sometimes decide that their only real option is suicide. When your brain is already tricking you into believing things that aren’t true, you need support from the people you love, not derision.

“You’re an addict looking for an excuse”

Watching people you care about struggle with substance abuse is incredibly frustrating. It’s natural to think that they would be fine if they just chose to stop doing that particular drug. Go cold turkey and everything will resolve itself, right? Wrong. Many addicts are also dealing with underlying mental health issues, and you have to treat both things in order for any positive changes to be long-lasting. It’s incredibly common for, say, a depressed person to self-medicate by binge drinking. That’s why such people need co-occurring also known as dual diagnosis programs at reputable rehab facilities. To be clear, addicts shouldn’t use poor mental health as an excuse to keep using. It doesn’t make what they’re doing to themselves OK. It just means they may have to look a little harder to find a treatment program that works for them.

 

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