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May Is Mental Health Month

Updated: Nov 25, 2019

Mental health problems are common and very difficult for individuals and families. In the United States, they affect about one-fourth of adults in any given year and nearly half of adults at some time during their lives. According to the World Health Organization, mental illnesses account for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses. Ongoing stress can precipitate anxiety and mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, are the most common mental health problems.

Stress is a physical and emotional reaction that people experience as they encounter changes in life. Stress is a normal feeling. However, long-term stress may contribute to or worsen a range of health problems including digestive disorders, headaches, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances and other concerns. Stress has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

Some people use relaxation techniques to release tension and to counteract the ill effects of stress. Relaxation techniques often combine breathing and focused attention on pleasing thoughts and images to calm the mind and the body. Some examples of relaxation response techniques are biofeedback, deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, and self-hypnosis. Mind and body practices, such as meditation and yoga, are also sometimes considered relaxation techniques. The goal is similar in all: to produce the body's natural relaxation response, characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of increased well-being.

A variety of professionals, including physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and complementary health practitioners, may teach relaxation techniques. Also, people sometimes learn similar relaxation techniques on their own. There are multiple effective ways to promote relaxation to rejuvenate our mind and body for wellbeing. It is very important to reach out for support and if you have severe or long-lasting symptoms of stress, anxiety or depressed mood, see your health care provider.

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