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Mental Health Problems


In the US, 25% of Americans fit the definition for some type of mental disorder, but the majority has mild problems. Most took years or decades to get treatment and many never seek treatment. A study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health estimates the median age of the beginning of anxiety and impulse-control disorders in the US is age 11 but most don’t get treated for years. Half of all major mental illnesses start in children before age 14 and 75% by age 24.[1]

Four main categories of mental illness are:

*Anxiety disorders such as panic, post traumatic stress syndrome, obsessive-compulsive behavior (29%)

*Impulse-control disorders such as attention deficit disorder, or conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder, intermittent explosive disorder (25%), and also median age of 11.

*Mood disorders such as bipolar, depression (21%) with median age of 30.

*Substance disorders, such as alcohol and drug abuse (15%, 20 years age of onset).[1]


In the US, about 1% of children are treated for depression each year and a little over half are given antidepressant medicine. Antidepressant drugs raise the risk of suicide for young people up to age 24, warned the US Food and Drug Administration, although the risk is small and short-term. More than 189 million prescriptions for antidepressant drugs are written each year, with total sales of about $12 billion. About half of depressed patients don’t receive treatment. However, antidepressants don’t help people with moderate depression, according to a review of more than 700 patients.[1] When compared with placebo pills, the drugs did help patients with the most severe depression. Half of the people who take them don’t get relief according to another study.[1]

Manufacturers of antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil haven’t published the results of about one-third of drug research trials that didn’t show results. They reported most of the successful studies and only 14% of failed studies.

Researchers worked with 135 preschoolers with severe ADHD to look for alternatives to drugs. [1] They found what worked was consistent rules and routines, praise and reward points for good behavior, and practicing role-playing skills such as how to ask to share a toy. Other natural remedies start with the physical factors: Have you had enough sleep and healthy food? Avoid sugar, caffeine, sodas and other junk food that jolt your blood sugar for a short time, and then crash to a low. Snack on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other healthy real foods. Be aware of negative thinking, self-criticism, comparing yourself with others, and procrastination—putting off work that should be done in school or at home. When you feel depressed, exercise, spend some time outdoors or use full spectrum light bulbs inside, plan some fun activities, put on your favorite clothes, watch a funny movie, listen to upbeat music, break down tasks into smaller ones and do a little every day.

Keep a daily record of your moods and triggers in your journal. After a month or so you’ll be able to identify what depresses you, such as eating junk food, not exercising, or not having time for yourself. Give yourself a reward for action, and reach out to ask for emotional support from family and friends or a counselor or religious advisor. Find someone you can talk with who can listen without criticizing you. Pet a dog or cat. Help someone else. Read inspirational literature, such as religious or self-help books.


Natural remedies for depression include: 5-http, which helps the body make serotonin (95-Hydroxytryptophan); SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine–an amino acid) is considered an effective natural remedy; the herb St. John’s Wort; and vitamin C, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Siberian ginseng, and exercise increases serotonin levels. Omega 3 fish oils are useful for every facet of brain health (mercury free). Fish oil capsules kept psychosis at bay for most in a small Austrian study of young people.[1]

When brain chemistry has gotten chronically off balanced, we may need medication to get balanced enough to cope. Lasting depression requires help. Don’t try to slog through by yourself. You need a support system, someone you can call when you feel hopeless. “Sometimes all we want is to be listened to. Getting stuff off our chest is often enough to make is feel lighter and less depressed,” Shehroz reports. You need a support system, someone you can call when you feel hopeless.

My friend was very sad when her father died. I began to doubt myself as whether I really could be a psychologist when I couldn’t do anything to relieve my friend’s pain. All I could do was listening. A will to help others doesn’t mean I am capable. Yuan, 19, m, China

Your main job as a helper is indeed to listen. It’s healthy for people to discharge difficult emotions by crying, talking, trembling, pounding pillows, etc. The therapist just holds the energy for a safe place to release.[1] It’s very important that the therapist doesn’t sink down to match the grief, depression, etc. of the client because that distracts the client from discharge and doesn’t give them a positive state to match. The counseling program at the university in my town of Chico drums into therapists that they mainly do active listening, like “Sounds like you’re feeling abandoned and scared about your father’s passing on.” Being heard provides a sounding board for emotional clarity and movement. Your job is not to stop the pain but to allow it to be expressed.

Yuan replied to me:


Yes, I knew the crucial thing in counseling is listening and leading. That was what I did. I encouraged her to talk, recall memory about her father, and release the pain by crying. It did help. I know some of our pain is inevitable, and it have to be felt, as we are only human. The thing is my friend and I have similar upbringing. Her parents had an unhappy marriage. They divorced when she was in middle school. She is close to her mother and hardly feels love from her father. She didn’t have much time with her father. So it’s complicated. Not yet healed from her parents’ separation, it was too much for her. She complained life was not fair. My problem is that I never know how it is to have a father. And I nearly sank down. I felt I was too flawed, incomplete to be a therapist at that moment.



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