As with all areas of the Sunshine State, the quality of life in Jacksonville, Florida, is typically thought of as being less stressful due to the abundant sunshine and ready access to beautiful beaches. However, mental health issues are common in virtually all industrialized societies simply due to the demands of daily life. The American Psychological Association reports emotional issues impact over 20 percent of the U.S. population with anxiety disorders alone, affecting 40 million adults annually. Over 15 percent of adults in the U.S. have dealt with depression at least once, with the highest risk group being 18- to 25-year-olds. This averages out to just under 18 percent of the adult U.S. population experiencing either anxiety or depression, and 50 percent have experienced both simultaneously. In order to bring attention to these issues, May has been designated as “Mental Health Awareness Month.”
While mental health conditions are highly treatable, less than half of all afflicted people seek care. Failure to seek treatment has a variety of causes, such as availability, cost, and social stigma. Regrettably, this means over 20 million American adults suffer an ongoing battle with some form of emotional disorder. Many people experience guilt and shame over their struggle with mental health issues and often fear embarrassment over having their family, friends, and coworkers find out they have sought treatment. So, instead of risking shame, these people suffer in silence.
The goal of Mental Health Awareness Month is not simply to raise awareness of the issues but to help people understand they are not alone and that there are a number of treatment options available. While some people are genetically predisposed to having emotional conditions, most mental health issues are the result of long-term, unresolved stress. Stress is almost always a factor in instances of anxiety and can both be the root cause and the result of minor and major depressive episodes. Virtually all treatment options for emotional issues, from pharmaceutical therapies to exercise, focus on ways to relieve stress.
People often don’t consider that the brain is part of the body and can be the cause of, as well as be susceptible to, physical conditions. When the body experiences stress, it prepares itself by producing hormones to deal with the threat, namely adrenaline, and cortisol. Typically the body burns these hormones off with no ill effects. However, during periods of long-term unresolved stress, these hormones build up in the body. This often results in chronic anxiety and can lead to depression through a chain reaction of events.
Long-term exposure to adrenaline and cortisol from chronic stress and anxiety can cause a physiological change in brain chemistry that can result in a loss of sleep, major depression, and suppression of the immune system, all of which can lead to more serious physical and emotional health issues. These series of events illustrate just how important it is to deal with emotional issues as soon as they come up and not wait until more significant problems result. To help you stay healthy, here are five things you can do to support your mental health:
1) Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways of staying physically and mentally healthy. The American Medical Association went on record back in the 1960s saying if people would just eat right and get regular exercise, 90 percent of all health issues would disappear. A 2006 article published in the “Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry” stated aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce both anxiety and depression. This is because, in addition to its cardiovascular and weight maintenance benefits, regular exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress as it burns off stress hormones while simultaneously increasing the production of serotonin and dopamine, the body’s natural opiates that create a sense of well-being and induce relaxation.
2) Infrared Sauna
Clinical studies have shown sauna baths help balance mood by reducing stress and lowering cortisol levels. However, the problem is many people cannot tolerate the intense heat of traditional saunas. Infrared saunas, however, create a deep penetrating warmth with light waves instead of intense heat to raise the body’s core temperature. Psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman at the University of Columbia showed through clinical research that people suffering from major depression had their symptoms reduced by 50 percent after just one infrared sauna session. Furthermore, it was found the benefits lasted for as long as six weeks! You can locate a provider offering infrared sauna in Jacksonville or other areas with an online search.
A full-body massage provides emotional and physical benefits by relieving muscle tension and soreness and reducing stress levels. Massage has been used for centuries to speed up the healing of damaged muscles and relieve tension. Massage therapy is also effective at lowering cortisol levels and triggering the production of serotonin and dopamine. Massage therapy is also helpful in regulating blood glucose levels that work to balance emotions and mood. There are options for muscle tension therapy in Jacksonville, like the massage therapy offered at Be Still Float wellness studio.
4) Float-Tank Therapy
Sometimes referred to as sensory-deprivation therapy, float therapy allows your brain to take a break from processing external stimuli. Float tanks can be fully enclosed to block out all light and sound or maybe a small pool-like structure in a light and sound-proof room. Tanks are filled with a high-salinity solution of warm body-temperature water and Epsom salt, creating a neutral buoyancy so you float effortlessly on the water’s surface. Floating peacefully in the darkened silence relieves the mind of having to process information to create the ultimate state of stress relief. Research has proven that float tank therapy helps reduce stress and anxiety and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. There are various options for float tank stress therapy in Jacksonville as well as in most cities across the country.
Also referred to as counseling or “talk” therapy, psychotherapy is a time-tested treatment for dealing with emotional issues. Talk therapy is designed to provide an emotional-support system and help you examine the issues that are causing you to experience stress, anxiety, or depression. Depending on the therapist, patient, and the type of counseling, therapy can be short-term to deal with the most pressing issues or longer and deeper in scope when trying to find the root cause of emotional problems. As part of psychotherapy, psychiatrists may prescribe antidepressant medication as a short-term solution to help patients get on the road to recovery faster.
With serious emotional issues affecting one in four American’s, there is almost a 50-percent chance that you or someone close to you will suffer from a bout of anxiety or depression. While it is not always easy to identify the root causes of emotional issues, knowing how to alleviate stress and anxiety is a big step toward supporting your mental health. Be Still Float wellness studio offers several types of stress therapy in Jacksonville, Florida, including float therapy, infrared sauna, and massage muscle tension therapy in Jacksonville. Call 904-593-2316 to schedule a consultation or appointment, or visit them online at BeStillFloat.com. (Subscribe to our membership to save.)