From anxiety and addiction to post-partum depression and bipolar disorder, treatable mental health conditions are often overlooked, ignored, or misdiagnosed. In fact, less than 40% of adults get the help they need to treat their mental disorders. Untreated depression and anxiety are the leading cause of disability in the U.S., and can even increase the risk of serious illness and other diseases.
Mental health disorders in children are also a growing concern. Nearly 8% of the children age 9-17 experience a major depression episode in any given year, and 15% will suffer from depression before the age of 18. Nearly half of them won’t receive any treatment, putting them at a greatly increased risk for suicide, chronic behavioral problems, and school drop-out. Depression and anxiety may be particularly difficult to detect in adolescents because so many of the symptoms can be dismissed as normal teenage emotions, including:
- Increased sensitivity to rejection
- Vocal outbursts or crying
- Impaired thinking or difficult concentrating
- Social withdrawal
- Ongoing feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Appetite changes
The stigma surrounding mental health disorders is improving, and there are more resources than ever to provide help. But many people continue to ignore the signs or seek appropriate treatment, and therefore continue to suffer needlessly.
If you or a loved one are experiencing new or increasing mood or behavior issues, there are many options for getting the help you need. El Camino Hospital provides extensive behavior health services, as well as many specific programs, including:
- ASPIRE (After-School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education), an 8-week after school program for students aged 13-18 experiencing significant depression and/or anxiety symptoms.
- MOMS (Maternal Outreach Mood Services), a 6-8 week counseling program for expecting or new mothers experiencing pregnancy-related mood symptoms. This can include depression, anxiety, rapidly changing mood and/or disturbing thoughts.
- OATS (Older Adult Transitions Services), an 8-12 week program for adults age 55+ with mood symptoms that often can accompany life changes.
- Addiction Services, an 8 week, evening-only intensive program that provides individualized care to those 18 and older with substance abuse conditions.
This article first appeared in the March 2014 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.