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May Mental Health Myths

Mental Health Myths

Mental health, like many aspects of our health and wellbeing, can be often filled with myths and misunderstandings. Here at the Anna Centre, we want to make sure that you have the right information with which to make informed decisions about your mental health. As part of our social media content for May, we have decided to do a ‘Mental Health Myths’ series, to clear up some common misunderstandings in mental health.

Depression

The first week in May covers depression, and some of the myths associated with this very common mental health concern. Depression is often misunderstood as being ‘sad’, however, this is a large underestimation of what depression actually is. Clinical depression is different from sadness in the sense that sadness usually comes and goes, only lasting hours or days at a time and is usually something that someone can be ‘cheered up’ out of. People with depression however can experience very low mood, poor motivation, difficulty concentrating, not being able to experience pleasure anymore and when serious, suicidal thoughts. Sometimes it can be so bad that people physically can’t get out of bed. This is something that you can’t be ‘cheered up’ from. Depression is typically treated with a combination of psychotherapy and anti-depressant medication. On that note, anti-depressant medication is often suggested to be a ‘band aid’ for a mental health concern, rather than addressing the root cause. In most cases this is quite untrue, sometimes, when a person is severely depressed, medication is used to improve mood and functioning so they can engage in therapy properly. The body of evidence suggests that a dual approach of both medication and therapy has the best outcomes for many mental health concerns.

Anxiety

Week 2 we focus on anxiety, another commonly misunderstood or misrepresented mental health concern. Anxiety is often described as the ‘worry about worry’ and is separated from ‘fear’ by its focus on future events that may or may not happen. One analogy for the difference between anxiety and fear is that fear would be hopping in the ocean and encountering a shark, anxiety would be worrying about encountering a shark before you even jump in. Typical shyness and nerves about new things and people are not anxiety, these are normal human experiences and have their place in our lives, society actually needs those things to help function normally. Anxiety is those feelings dialled up to 100, with some potentially distressing physical side effects such as heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, sweating and trembling. It is very possible to ‘see’ a person experiencing anxiety, as those symptoms mentioned just before are what makes up a panic attack. These can sometimes result in hospitalization, as they are mistaken for a heart attack. Anxiety can cause some serious trouble in peoples lives and may have them avoiding social interactions or not doing things they’d like to be able to do.

Stress

Week 3 discusses the topic of stress. We all experience stress at some point in our lives. And some amount of manageable stress in our lives is a healthy thing. It pushes us to grow and to become better, just like when we are exercising or studying. A common myth or misconception about stress, is that stress only affects us psychologically, or in our mind. When the stress we experience is outside of our capacity to overcome it or deal with it effectively, we experience a range of symptoms. Poor sleep, muscle tension, our immune system is compromised making us susceptible to a range of illnesses such as colds and flus, we can even experience aches and pains and stomach upsets as a result of stress. As mentioned previously however, a certain amount of stress in our lives can indeed be helpful and push us to grow, the key is getting the balance of stress and your ability cope right, so you don’t become overwhelmed.

General Misunderstandings

Week 4 explores some general myths or misunderstandings about accessing mental health professional help. The first myth is that you need to have a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) and referral from your GP to see a psychologist. Whilst a MHCP means that you will be eligible for a Medicare rebate from the cost of your sessions with a psychologist, meaning the out-of-pocket cost will be lower, you can see a psychologist under a private fee. This is called self-referring and requires no GP visit, just a call to our admin team. It should be noted that as there is no Medicare rebate, in most cases you will be required to pay the full fee.

You may have heard from friends or other health professionals that there is large wait time to see a psychologist. This is partly true, there can be longer wait times to see a psychologist face to face, however, the wait list to see a psychologist over telehealth (Video) is much shorter. Less than a week in some instances. Telehealth (Video) is just as effective as seeing a professional face-to-face and can be more comfortable for you if you think about it. You can see a psychologist from the comfort of your couch, with a cuppa, in your slippers. When available we also offer the use of our rooms to undertake the video session with a remote psychologist. It might be worth exploring if telehealth will work for you.

If any of this content has been triggering for you, or you feel like reaching out, you can reach us by calling us on (03) 5442 5066 or emailing us at admin@annacentre.com.au Please be advised that The Anna Centre is not a crisis or emergency support service, please ring Bendigo Health Psychiatric Triage on 1300 363 788 or your local psychiatric triage in times of crisis.

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