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This article discusses the prevention of mental health, the factors that increase the likelihood of developing mental illness, and posttraumatic stress disorder in particular.

Maintaining positive psychological well-being includes preventing unneeded stress. Stress can cause severe mental health conditions. For instance, if you feel down because you recently separated from your partner, you may likely withdraw from others and cry daily. Understandably, you’ll be feeling unhappy for a while, but the amount of time needed to pick yourself back up depends on the strength of the relationship and if you’ve experienced other losses. Your overall disposition also affects whether or not you seek support from others during this stressful event.

You might have an introverted nature and decided not to reach out to others. Instead, you choose to stay in bed and withdraw from people. You ignore your interests, responsibilities, and daily activities. Furthermore, you’re not motivated. Your self-confidence has plummeted to a point where you decide to take sick leave from your job. If this continues for many weeks or months, it’s likely that your distress could lead to a depressive disorder. Anxiety may set in as you suddenly see the outside world as a threat, and you no longer feel secure after the break up with your partner. You feel abandoned, lost, and distrustful. However, by seeking help from others, continuing to function at work, and performing your daily responsibilities, depression and anxiety can be prevented.  Of course, you will grieve or temporarily be miserable, but as long as you’re able to pick yourself back up and continue with your day to day life, you’re not likely to withdraw and develop a mental health condition. When mental health impacts your daily functioning, you may require psychological counselling or medication, especially if the condition is severe and you’re having active suicidal thoughts.

Strong Factors in Mental Illness

A range of factors will predispose you to an increased likelihood of mental illness, and these include:

  • Your personality – an introverted or extroverted nature, and whether you assert your needs or not. This is a combination of genes versus environment/experiences in shaping your personality.
  • Medical problems – having chronic conditions can increase the likelihood of secondary emotions such as depressive symptoms or anxiety symptoms.
  • School experiences – being popular versus being mistreated or bullied.
  • Significant life events – grief and loss issues increase the likelihood of mental health if unmanaged. Abuse history, relationship break-ups etc.
  • Relationship quality – critical people in your life versus supportive.
  • Self-esteem – How you feel about yourself determines the likelihood of developing depression or anxiety.
  • Family history of psychological illness – People in your family who experience mental illness increases your chance of developing mental health.

Therefore, both genetics and environment determine whether you develop mental illness. Some people are more prone than others. If that’s the case, then you need to take extra care and precaution by ensuring you get help in the very early stages or prior to developing mental illness impacting your daily functioning.

I get down at times, but I work through those feelings by sitting with my emotions and validating what I feel. When it’s time to move on, I distract myself with activities, meditate,  share the pain with a loved one, and write in my journal.

Acute trauma is another mental health issue that usually occurs after witnessing a dangerous act or being threatened or harmed in some way. Within four weeks, symptoms of trauma such as nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance of trauma reminders, hyper-vigilance, and so on should resolve themselves with proper care and management by others.  If you’re able to carry on with your daily routine, you should be okay. However, the trauma can sometimes be so severe that it develops into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  PTSD is likely to occur when help is not sought immediately. Although, depending on the severity of the condition, some people do not fully recover. Considered a form of anxiety, PTSD is commonly associated with depression as it impacts your overall functioning.

When managing a mental health issue, it’s best to turn to others and take the necessary steps to perform your daily activities. Exercise, diet, sleep, hygiene, a positive environment, and engaging in interests greatly impact your mental health. Counselling and intensive therapy are also effective if your daily functioning is inhibited, or you’re not coping and need further support and insight.

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Please leave a comment below about how you manage your mental health.