Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety/Depression and Women’s Health

If you’re anything like me (and let’s hope for your sakes you’re not), being aware really takes a lot out of you. With ‘aware’ having synonyms like ‘cognizant,’ ‘mindful,’ ‘wide-awake,’ ‘vigilant,’ and ‘wary’ (I took ‘conscious’ alright–I’m pretty sure I’ve got that pegged), expecting me to be ‘aware’ for any length of time seems to be asking a lot.

So I was going through life, not vigilant, for sure, but ‘alert’ (another synonym)-at least most of the time–until I ran into the 2014 Health Observance and Recognition Calendar Days. Look–I already provided you the link–you really must go take a look. Because you may have thought that you were ‘watchful,’ but I bet for years you’ve failed to notice Root Canal Awareness Week (April 5-12), Medical Transcriptionist Week (May 18-24), Health Care Recruiter Recognition Day–anyone?–June 3; I bet few have properly been mindful of School Backpack Awareness Day (September 17) and I’m pretty skeptical that an appropriate number of people have been vigilant when it comes to  a personal favorite in our household, what’s known as Time Out Day, September 1, which–I am not making this up–“emphasizes the importance of surgical teams taking a “time out” to confirm vital patient information before beginning every invasive procedure.”  That’s right–I’m all for a day that encourages surgeons to find out if I’m actually the one who’s supposed to be in surgery or if it is my 87-year-old roommate, to determine if I’m keeping my uterus–or finally throwing in the towel on the thing, to make absolutely certain that it’s the right side that’s problematic–so they should probably do their business there.

Be that all as it may, there were two weeks asking for my attention that I felt I really should summon up mindfulness for, and, if you haven’t spent all your intentness elsewhere, perhaps you’d join me.  It’s a bit of a challenge, because they’re both the same week, May 12-18, but I think we should all give it a try.

National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week

When it comes to anxiety and depression, there are a few things it’s definitely worth being mindful of.

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., and they affect nearly 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population) (Anxiety & Depression Association of America).
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
  • Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s $148 billion total mental health bill, according to “The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders,” a study commissioned by ADAA (The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,60(7), July 1999).

According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44.
  • Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
  • Of course it can develop at any age–but the median age of onset is 32.
  • The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill tells us that depression affects more than 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans aged 65 years or older.
  • The New York Times, which always teaches me something, made me cognizant of the fact that researchers report nearly 60 percent of the people in treatment do not receive adequate care.
  • Breaking down the stats reveals in any given one-year period, 13 million to 14 million people, about 6.6 percent of the nation, experience the illness.
  • I further learned that, although I was quite interested in stats on ECT, no one keeps them.  ECT.org attempts to clarify the situation with this obfuscating information: “Only a handful of US states require reporting, and many other countries either do not collect data at all, or do so partially.” Illuminating.

Note that you won’t find any such lack of knowledge when it comes to Awareness Day # 2  You ready? It really doesn’t take much vigilance at all–I’ll walk you through.

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