November Support Group Meeting Topic: How external factors/stress can affect internal factors and our mental health.
What is internal and external stress?
External stress comes from outside us, while internal stress comes from inside of us and determine our body's ability to respond to external stress-inducing factors or stressors. There are two kinds of stress: external and internal stress.
External stress comes from outside us:
· Our physical environment
· Our job
· Noise – loud and constant low level noise
· Foreign organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi)
· Poor work conditions (not enough attention paid to ergonomics, too much noise, poor air circulation, lack of privacy, excess demands, etc).
· Relationships with others
· Our home,
All the situations, challenges, difficulties, and expectations we're confronted with on a daily basis.
Internal stress comes from inside of us and determine our body's ability to respond to, and deal with, the external stress-inducing factors or stressors:
· Nutritional status
· Feelings of anger, fear and worry
· Overall health and fitness levels
· Presence of illness and infection
· Emotional well-being
· Amount of sleep and rest you get.
Managing stress can involve making changes in the external factors which confront you, or in internal factors which strengthen your ability to deal with what comes your way.
External stress is often associated with:
· Workplace stress
· Interpersonal conflicts
· Relationship / marital stress
· Balancing career and family
· Being a parent
Your kids and stress- Children are a great joy and a great source of stress! Accept your kids for who and what they are. Realize that you’re human and your kids know it – don’t try to be a perfect parent, partner or employee. Just try your best and ask for help. Delegate. Let them learn from you and then go their own way. Parenthood is not about control. It’s about freedom.
Kids also have stress. They react differently to stress than do grown-ups!
Be on the look-out for:
· Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
· Lack of need for social interaction
· More moodiness than usual
· Dramatic or inexplicable deterioration in academic or sport performance
Internal stress management can help to prepare your body to handle internal stressors more effectively:
· Anger management
· Healthy nutrition and using the correct food supplements to help you cope with stress
· Dealing with anger, fear and worry
· Developing a positive mental attitude
· Exercising moderately, but frequently
· Practicing daily relaxation techniques
· Dealing with sleep disturbances
9 Lifestyle Factors That Can Affect Your Mental Health
If you are struggling with mental illness, or trying to help someone you love get his or her mental health back on track, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless array of treatment options. Even more stressful can be figuring out how to cover the costs of trying multiple medications while attending therapy or perhaps even contemplating hospitalization. Mental illnesses are real health issues, which means you can't treat them with lifestyle changes alone. In conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, though, your treatment options will work more effectively and you'll see more rapid change.
Exercise & Activity Level
You've probably heard a thousand times that you need to exercise, but here's one more reason: Exercise doesn't just control your weight and protect your physical health. It also offers protective benefits to your mental health. Exercise can be so effective at treating mental health problems that some studies show it to be as effective as popular antidepressants. Exercise can also help reduce muscle pain, making it an ideal choice for people who feel limited by pain or mobility challenges.
There's no “magic” amount of exercise that will cure mental health challenges. Instead, the key is to stay moving as much as possible. When an option, walk to destinations instead of driving. Take your dog for a walk. Go for a leisurely bike ride. Take stairs instead of elevators. Exercise frequently offers a chance to spend some time outside which can, in its own right, improve your mood.
Almost half of people with mental illness are smokers. For years, therapists thought that smoking might help to take the edge off of mental health symptoms, so they frequently didn't pressure their clients to quit. We know better now, though. While quitting can be challenging—and may even yield a temporary downturn in mental health—research has repeatedly shown that quitting smoking yields benefits to mental health, often in just a few weeks. When you smoke, you take in a variety of toxins, and it may be that many of those toxins contribute to mood problems. Moreover, the physical health problems caused by smoking—heart disease, coughing, emphysema, frequent colds, difficulty exercising—can lead to mood problems and mental health challenges. Quitting may be one of the best things you do for your mental health.
Your diet directly affects your physical health, and your physical health can undermine your mental health. Unhealthy choices such as excess processed foods, sweets, and foods with a low nutrient value, then, can all undermine mental health. Want to feel better? Research is increasingly showing that healthy fats such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, as well as the fat found in fruits such as avocados, can boost brain power and improve mood. And for those with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is a much healthier way to indulge.
Your mind and body aren't easily separated. If you struggle with physical health conditions, you're at an increased risk of mental health problems. Even something as minor as a toothache or bladder infection can temporarily undermine your ability to manage stress, so prompt medical care for physical issues is always a wise choice. In some cases, mental health problems may be directly caused by physical health issues. Endocrine system disorders, for example, can lead to depression, anxiety, and problems with regulating your sleep cycle. If psychiatric drugs aren't working, consider getting blood work so you can learn if a medical condition is undermining your mental health.
An unhealthy family environment that includes any kind of abuse, whether physical, sexual, or psychological, can make it nearly impossible to achieve sound mental health. The aftereffects of abuse can linger for years, and some abuse victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder. If you're being abused, the first step is finding a way out. And if you have a history of abuse, don't deal with it alone. Seek treatment so you can move on with your life.
Social & Community Activities
Anyone who's ever had a good cry with a friend knows that friendship can make a huge difference in mental health. Research is increasingly recognizing the value of friendship. Isolated people are more likely to struggle with mental health issues, and even a single weekly outing with a friend can improve your mood for days. Getting involved in the larger community through volunteer work can help you feel more connected, and some people find that altruistic behavior makes it easier to deal with the challenges of everyday life. Some research also suggests that religious people are happier. This may be because religious people have regular socialization opportunities at church functions.
The key is to find the level of socialization that makes you comfortable, and to spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself and your life. Don't force a connection that's not there, but if you're struggling to get out of bed, consider committing to a social outing, even if it feels a bit overwhelming. The odds are good that you'll feel better after spending time with someone you care about.
We've all heard that it's important to work on your own mental health before getting into a relationship. While it's true that a relationship won't cure everything, research is increasingly showing that a healthy romantic relationship can make a big difference in mental health. One recent study found that a healthy relationship could help people avoid anxiety and neurotic personality traits, for example. By working on your relationship, you enable an important avenue for healing and sound mental health. And if you're in a bad relationship, get out so you can focus on yourself –and potentially find someone who makes life better.
Meditation & Other Relaxation Techniques
Meditation, deep breathing, and similar techniques aren't just holdovers from the New Age movement. They really work, and over time, medication can actually change the way your brain processes emotions. You don't have to commit to a specific technique. Instead, by meditating, breathing deeply, or simply focusing on cultivating mindfulness for 20 to 30 minutes each day, you can steadily improve your ability to tolerate frustration, control your temper, and manage anxiety. If you're not sure how to get started, pick up a book on meditation. It doesn't matter what approach you use, as long as it's comfortable for you, so spend some time researching various meditative techniques.
If you've ever found yourself on the verge of tears as you struggle to get out of bed after a long night, then you know that your sleep habits affect the way you feel. Most sleep experts recommend between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, but the real key to success isn't just the right amount of sleep; it's a regular sleep schedule. By going to bed at the same time each night and getting up around the same time each day, you make it easier for your body to regulate its sleep/wake cycle. This can lead to big mental health improvements, make it easier to get better after an illness, and even make tackling a challenging day feel just a bit less daunting.
There's no substitute for good mental health care when you're struggling with behavioral health issues. But your lifestyle really does affect how you feel, and you can become your own best mental health ally by taking the first step toward a healthy lifestyle. If you're not sure where to begin, don't be afraid to ask your therapist or psychiatrist, who may have additional suggestions based on your specific needs, condition, and lifestyle.
· Love makes you strong: Romantic relationships help neurotic people stabilize their personality. (2014, May 9). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140509074114.htm
· Nauert, R., PhD. (2011, February 18). Lifestyle changes as treatment for mental health concerns, depression, anxiety. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/02/18/lifestyle-changes-as-treatment-f...
· Physical health and mental health. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/P/phys...
· Quitting smoking linked to better mental health in study. (2014, February 12). Retrieved from http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/smoking-cessation-new...
· Walsh, R. (2011). Lifestyle and mental health. American Psychologist, 66(7), 579-592. doi: 10.1037/a0021769
Other Factors affecting mental health
Good mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. It can be seen as a state of mental health that allows one to flourish and fully enjoy life. Everyone experiences down times in life. The ability to cope with negative experiences varies greatly from one person to another and, in large part, determines whether people enjoy their lives. Some of the factors that affect the mental health of youth are as follows:
This is the value we place on ourselves, our positive self-image and sense of self-worth. People with high self-esteem generally have a positive outlook and are satisfied with themselves most of the time.
· Feeling loved
Children who feel loved, trusted and accepted by their parents and others are far more likely to have good self-esteem. They are also more likely to feel comfortable, safe and secure, and are better able to communicate and develop positive relationships with others.
Youth should be encouraged to discover their own unique qualities and have the confidence to face challenges and take risks. Young people who are brought up to have confidence in themselves are more likely to have a positive attitude, and to lead happy and productive lives.
· Family breakup or loss
Separation or divorce or the loss of a parent or sibling is extremely painful. Finding ways to cope and adjust to the changes wrought by these events is critical for everyone, but particularly for youth. How grief is handled can affect young people negatively for years to come. If children are having difficulty coping, professional help is recommended.
· Difficult behavior
When people are unhappy, they either internalize their unhappiness or act out. The latter usually appears as bad or difficult behavior, such as using abusive language, being aggressive or violent, damaging property, stealing, lying, refusing to comply with requests or expectations at school or home, or displaying other inappropriate actions. If such behavior is serious and persistent, the young person and his or her family might require professional help.
· Physical ill health
Diseases, injuries and other physical problems often contribute to poor mental health and sometimes mental illness. Some physical causes (such as birth trauma, brain injury or drug abuse) can directly affect brain chemistry and contribute to mental illness. More commonly, poor physical health can affect self-esteem and people’s ability to meet their goals, which leads to unhappiness or even depression. In such cases, receiving the best possible treatment for both the physical problem and the resulting psychological consequences is key to optimal recovery to good mental health.
The mental health of abused children is at great risk. Abused children are more likely to experience mental disorders or mental illness during childhood and into adulthood.
Abuse may be physical, sexual, psychological or verbal. It may not always be evident or easily recognized. Regardless of the form it takes, abuse cannot be tolerated. Children need to be protected from abuse and helped to overcome its negative effects. Abuse can cause feelings of low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, depression, isolation and anger all feelings that impair a child’s chance to lead a happy life.
Trust in others and feelings of being safe and cared for are key components to recovery from abuse. Few children are able to recover on their own. Support is critical, and professional counselling is sometimes required. If abuse is discovered early, the chances of a child returning to a healthy state of mind and avoiding serious mental disorders are greatly enhanced.
Internal & External factors of mental health card game information:
Internal factors that influence mental health: Biological, genetics:
· physical health Venn diagram of Risk Factors
· Immune system
External Factors that influence mental health: Social relationships:
· Employment status
· Life events (traumatic)
Biological risk factors:
· Genetic Vulnerability- genes passed on by our parents, more susceptible
o e.g.: Schizophrenia Biological relative with schizophrenia have a 10% risk of developing the disorder, as compared with schizophrenia has a 40%-50% risk.
· Poor response to medication due to genetic factors
· Poor sleep
· Long term substance use
Psychological risk factors
· Rumination- is when people overthink or obsess about situations or life events
- has been linked to incidence of depression, anxiety and PTSD
· Impaired reasoning and memory- cognitive problems that can contribute to development and progression of mental disorders.
· Stress, chronic and acute stress contributes to mental disorders
· Poor self-efficacy- general coping strategies are poor, less likely to seek help
Social Risk factors
· Disorganized attachment- struggle with relationships, avoidant personality. (attachment is the emotional bond that forms between an infant and caregiver)
· Loss of a significant relationship- family, friend, can make people more vulnerable to mental disorder.
· Stigma is a mark of disgrace or disgust that sets someone apart from others- Stigma as a barrier to accessing treatment- 25-50% sufferers doesn’t seek treatment.
What is Cumulative risk?
All these factors interacting together to precipitate a mental health disorder
What are the 4 Ps?
Predisposing Factors... Increase vulnerability to developing mental health problems:
Precipitating factors... Trigger the onset or exacerbation of mental health problems:
· Environmental trigger
· Significant life event
· Trauma, accident, injury
Perpetuating factors... Inhibit recovery from mental health problems:
· Poor health
· Lack of social support
· Lack of resources
Protective Factors...Prevent the occurrence or recurrence of mental health problems:
· Good health/sleep/exercise
· Hormonal balance/ no family incidence
· Strong social support and network
Contributing biological factors to stress:
· Stress response
· Long term potentiation-physical occurrences that happen in the brain as result of repeated stimulation of the neural pathway during learning (amygdala- initiating and processing emotional responses such as fear. Hippocampus-Involved in formation of declarative memories)
· GABA Dysfunction- GABA regulates anxiety, sleep & arousal. Plays a role in anxiety as it acts like a calming agent or 'brake' to the excitatory neurotransmitters that lead to anxiety.
Contributing Psychological factors:
· Behavioral models: phobias are influenced by environmental factors
o Specific phobia may be learnt through classical conditioning and maintained by operant conditioning. (P1 Little Albert developed a specific phobia of rats through classical conditioning. P2 Avoiding the -feared stimulus -rat, far is reduced - negative reinforcement = happy feeling- which maintains the phobia) eg: dentist, injections
· Cognitive Models: Emphasizes thought process on feelings and behavior
o Cognitive Bias- A tendency to think in a way that involves errors of judgement and faulty decision making.
o Memory Bias- Memory encoded inaccurately and distorted, tend to remember the negative or threatening information about the phobic stimulus
o Catastrophic Thinking- Over estimating the threat, irrational, obsessive thinking. Thinking any dog you encounter will attack you and leave you with permanent facial disfigurement.
Contributing social factors:
· Environmental triggers: Direct exposure to a traumatic or distressing event e.g.: bitten by a dog
o Witnessing someone experience a traumatic event: e.g. see someone get bitten by dog
o Reading or hearing about a traumatic event: e.g. hearing a story about someone being bitten by a dog
o Stigma around seeking treatment: Mark of disgrace labels and separates a person so less likely to seek help due to shame or embarrassment.
Treatments for specific phobias: Evidence based interventions;
· Anti-Anxiety medication- benzodiazepines, a group of short acting drugs.
o Agonist- stimulates the GABA receptors; enhance effects of GABA (not antagonist as in study design).
o Anti-anxiety and sleep inducing properties, Commonly referred to as sedatives, mild tranquillizers or depressant, as they slow down CNS activity
o Also induce drowsiness; can be highly addictive and long term use is not recommended.
· Breathing Re-training- slow breathing technique to manage effects of hyperventilation, calms nervous system and lowers anxiety
· Exercise: helps reduce stress
o Produces beta-endorphins, along with serotonin and dopamine and improves our mood and lowers anxiety.
o Exercise burns up adrenalin and excess cortisol which is released during stress response.