October Is National Depression Awareness and Emotional Wellness Month
Depression is treatable, and we can all take steps to make our emotional wellness a priority.
October is National Depression Awareness & Screening Month, and a perfect time to find a mental health screening. This month is also Emotional Wellness Month, a time when we can identify sources of stress in our lives and reflect on how well we manage them. Emotional Wellness can mean taking time for self-care practices that benefit our mental health and prioritize the well-being of our emotions.
Staying on top of your mental health is essential. Depression is a serious condition affecting how you think, behave and feel. Getting screened for depression is important because many New Mexicans struggle to get the help they need. While depression is a highly treatable condition, statistics showed that last year, 43.3% of adults in New Mexico reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, yet more than half of them were unable to get counseling or therapy.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression:
- Mood: feeling apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or periods of anxiety or extreme sadness lasting two weeks or more at a time
- Behavioral: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, restlessness or social isolation
- Sleep: early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia or restless sleep
- Whole body: excessive hunger, fatigue or loss of appetite
- Cognitive: lack of concentration or slowness in activity
- Weight: weight gain or weight loss
- Also common: poor appetite, repetitive thoughts or thoughts of suicide
Not everyone experiences depression in the same way, but it can affect anyone at any time. A number of different environmental, genetic, psychological or biological factors often come into play. That’s why it’s necessary to get screened or seek professional help if you or someone you care about is experiencing depressive symptoms. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a website with a host of helpful resources for New Mexicans.
What is Emotional Wellness?
Emotional wellness refers to our ability to effectively handle the ups and downs of life while staying aware of the effect they have on our emotions. How we feel directly influences our physical health. Unchecked levels of high stress can take a toll on our bodies, leading to a weakened immune system or other problems like high blood pressure, headaches and even chronic health conditions. Learning to manage stress is key to living a balanced and healthy life.
If you’re dealing with a lot of stress in your life, now is a good time to assess those areas and practice strategies to reduce stress in areas you can control, and work on making your mental health a priority. Self-care will look different for everyone and may require that you set more boundaries—either at work or in your personal life, making more time to relax, getting enough physical activity every day and taking other steps to create a healthy routine.
Therapy can be a great resource for people who are prioritizing their emotional wellness. The New Mexico Human Services Department Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) is committed to bridging the connection between physical and mental health through its services. Everyone deserves access to equitable mental healthcare and resources. BHSD is expanding the reach of treatment services within the state to help more New Mexicans in need.
This Emotional Wellness Month, let’s slow down our busy lives to reflect on how we have been feeling and take steps to change what we can to make our personal well-being a top priority. Check in with your emotions and commit to facing what you’re experiencing. Reaching out for help and support if you’re struggling isn’t a sign of weakness, but a brave step towards being healthy and well. Take time to connect with your friends, family and loved ones this month, because emotional support doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and showing up in your relationships is vital for your emotional health.
This October, be proactive in regard to your mental and physical needs. Taking care of yourself is always the first priority. Together we can take a dose of wellness and build healthy, thriving communities.