What is Mental Health?
Mental health is a state of well-being. Mental health is impacted by emotions, psychological factors, and social factors. Mental health problems impact a person’s thinking, mood, and behavior. Many different areas play into mental health. The first area is biology which is a person’s brain chemistry or genes. Next is life experiences which would include positive and negative experiences.
Finally, a family history of mental health problems should be considered. If someone continues to struggle with mental health, they could be struggling with a mental illness. Mental illness is a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior. There are many different diagnosed mental health disorders. It is important to look at different mental health diagnoses to understand how different substances can affect them.
Mental Health Disorders
Some of the more common mental health disorders that are currently being treated are:
- Anxiety- anxiety can be a normal response for people in response to stressful situations. However, anxiety becomes a problem for people when their fear, worry and distress become their normal state and leave it hard to navigate daily living.
- Depression- those who struggle with depression are fighting against a persistent feeling of loneliness, pessimism and worthlessness.
- Bi-polar disorder-people who suffer with bi-polar disorder, struggle with two intense emotional states, meaning that they typically feel manic or depressed. Bi-polar disorder can cause dramatic shifts in mood and impacts a person’s daily functioning.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder- PTSD is a severe psychological response to some traumatic event that has occurred.
Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders…or is it drugs?
Unfortunately, mental health disorders and substance use disorder symptoms can mimic each other. For some people, it is hard to pinpoint whether a person is struggling with mental illness, substance abuse, or both. The following are signs and symptoms that could be both caused by mental illness and substance abuse:
- Overeating or not eating
- Low to no energy or extremely high energy
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling like you don’t matter
- Feeling unusually foggy, confused, worried, upset or angry
- Yelling or fighting with people that are closest to you
- Mood swings
- Relationship issues
- Hearing things
- Inability to do daily functioning
What drugs impact mental health the most?
Drugs have the ability to change the way a person’s brain and physical body react. Some people who suffer from mental illness use drugs to treat the side effects they are experiencing from mental health. A lot of times the person experiences instant relief from substances, but the long-term effects can be detrimental. It is important to note that some drugs can even cause long-term mental illness.
One of the most severe medical conditions that drugs can cause that impacts mental health is psychosis. Psychosis is a state where someone does not process the world around them normally. Sometimes people in psychosis are defined as having a “break from reality.” The following substances can have negative effects on mental health:
- Cannabis-although this drug is widely used and more acceptable than others, it can have some severely negative effects on the user. Cannabis can cause a person to feel anxious and paranoid. It is one of the highest risk drugs to have a side effect of psychosis.
- Alcohol-alcohol is deceiving to people who use it. Alcohol is considered a depressant which means it has the ability to make you depressed. This may be hard to understand because typically when people start using alcohol, they are happy not depressed. However, after long term use the reverse of that happy feeling will be true. One of the biggest consequences of alcohol use and sadness is suicidal ideations.
- Amphetamines and methamphetamines-these drugs will make you alert and wide awake. People who use these drugs find it difficult to relax and also cause insomnia. Psychosis is a concern because a person may suffer from lack of sleep.
- Benzodiazepine- benzos are used to treat anxiety. While they can be beneficial for someone who has severe anxiety, the longer they are used that same person will become dependent on them. Also, they can cause confusion and oversleeping.
- Cocaine-cocaine gives a user an instant confidence boost and causes them to become talkative and feel wide awake. The problem is when the high from cocaine begins to wear off, depression, paranoia and anxiety begin to set it.
- Opioids- opioids cause an instant high and relaxed and happy feeling. It immediately takes the pain away. Opioids are extremely addictive and have a high risk of overdose. Opioids have such a negative effect on the brain that stopping the drug has a very negative impact on a person’s mental health.
The relief that people seek for mental illness cannot be found in drugs. Drugs trick your brain into thinking that they are helping until they aren’t. Mental health wellness can only be achieved with the absence of substances.