“Are your symptoms being caused by a medical issue or is it stress?” You have probably heard this question asked before whether it be for yourself or someone else. Have you ever wondered why we categorize our mental health in a separate box from medical concerns? We don’t separate cardiovascular health from medical concerns. We constitute any issue with our liver, bladder, uterus, and any other organ as a medical concern. Isn’t our brain an organ too? Yeah, in fact it happens to be the organ that controls all the other organs in the body!
My patients are mostly highly intelligent and successful individuals. When they have been impacted by some form of mental health issues, they seek therapy with intentions of being able to conquer it with insight and life adjustments. All of them experience some degree of anxiety and/or depression.
Sometimes anxiety and depression are circumstantial as a result of a life transition such as divorce, death, or occupational. Similar to being told for the first time you have slightly high cholesterol, professional support, education, and life adjustments can often cure the symptoms.
However, there are circumstances where the symptoms are impairing to your ability to function and sometimes they are a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. When I suggest a psychiatric evaluation to the patients with this experience, sometimes they struggle to accept their condition may be beyond their ability to battle alone. These are the individuals who are more likely to separate medical and mental health.
There are many misconceptions in our society of what mental health is and how much of it is within our control. Just as with any other organ in our body it is our responsibility to make healthy choices in our life for our mind and body to function most effectively. However, it is also our responsibility to acknowledge and accept when our organs (brain included) are not functioning appropriately and professional help along with medication management are needed. Just as cancer can strike anyone from any cultural or socioeconomic background, so can mental health. It does not define who we are, it a part of our health that we must maintain and nurture regularly.
Written by: Kristin Woodling, LMHC