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What's Going On and What Can You Do?

Finding it hard to manage the daily stressors and changes that are due to the pandemic? Feeling extremely sad lately? Struggling with anxiety or having sleep issues?

You’re not alone.

Mental health conditions are far more common than you think. It’s just that people often don’t like to talk about them or are afraid to. In these days of dealing with COVID-19, there has been an increase in people experiencing mental health concerns. If you have — or think you might have — a mental health condition, the first thing you must know is that you are not alone. One in 5 American adults experiences some form of mental illness in any given year.

Signs to look for:

  • Excessive worrying, fear or guilt
  • Feeling extremely sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Changes in sleeping habits; sleeping too much or too little
  • Ongoing feelings of irritability or anger
  • Difficulty understanding or relating to other people
  • Extreme tiredness and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits, such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Hearing, seeing, feeling and thinking things that others don’t (learn more)
  • Problems with alcohol, drugs or other addictive behavior
  • Difficulty carrying out daily activities or handling daily problems and stress
  • Thinking about suicide

A mental health condition isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple causes that link together. Genetics, environment and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events, like the current pandemic. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too.

None of this means that you’re broken or that you, or your family, did something “wrong.” Mental illness is no one’s fault. And recovery — in your social life, at school and work — is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play a strong role in your own recovery process.

Every year people overcome the challenges of mental illness to do the things they enjoy. Through reaching out for help and developing and following a treatment plan, you can dramatically reduce many of your symptoms. People with mental health conditions can and do pursue higher education, succeed in their careers, make friends and have relationships. Mental illness can slow us down, but we don’t need to let it stop us. We can move onward and live full and meaningful lives.

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