A Hidden Obstacle: Anxiety

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Anxiety disorders affect nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population at any given time. Studies do not show whether nature or nurture play a greater role in the development of anxiety disorders.   Photo by Chris@APL

Preparing for a speech: “There is a quick racing of the heart and shortness of breath followed by the whole body quivering. You’re are unable to think or make words,”  a person with Social Anxiety Disorder said. 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. They affect nearly 20 percent of the public at any given time, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness.  Unfortunately, some people do not pursue treatment for their illness because they do not recognize the severity of their symptoms or are too ashamed to ask for help. Untreated anxiety disorders can negatively affect personal and professional relationships, and can impair regular day-to-day activities. Effective treatment for anxiety disorders as well as education of the illness is essential to decrease it’s impact.

Anxiety disorders cause a person to experience symptoms of distress, uneasiness and fear in situations in which most people would not experience those symptoms; for example, going grocery shopping at your local food market. The most common anxiety disorders (in no particular order) are:

  • Exercise is scientifically proven to aid in decreasing the effects of an anxiety disorder. Photo by Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

    Exercise is scientifically proven to aid in decreasing the effects of an anxiety disorder. Photo by Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

    Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Phobias

Studies do not show whether nature or nurture play a bigger role in the development of these disorders; however, there does seem to be consensus among medical professionals on how to treat them. For many, psychotherapy techniques and medication are most helpful in severe anxiety disorders.

Personal habits can also decrease the effects of anxiety disorders, such as:

  1. A healthy diet can help those with an anxiety disorder. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can also be beneficial. Photo by Berkeley Lovelace.

    A healthy diet can help those with an anxiety disorder. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can also be beneficial. Photo by Berkeley Lovelace Jr. 

    Diet – A healthy diet is essential to treat anxiety disorders. For some anxiety disorders reducing caffeine and alcohol intake can be effective.

  2. Sleep – Those who are deprived of sleep are more vulnerable to anxiety Make sure to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Hours may vary depending on your age.

  3. Expression/Awareness – Write in a journal or talk to someone about it. Also learn how to control your symptoms through practices and exercises.

  4. Exercise – Exercise has many benefits but it has been shown that regular exercise can help treat an anxiety disorder.

  5. And more – There are different ideas out there on how to most effectively treat an anxiety disorder. So, educate yourself on this issue.

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Bias Left Untreated: African Americans and Mental Health

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This crowd represents the disproportionate number of African Americans there are in health care professions. In fact, less than two percent of psychiatrist and psychologist are African American. Photo by Mrs. Gemstone.

     In the United States, African Americans are less likely to receive accurate diagnoses of mental health than their Caucasian peers. The issue exists on a much wider scale that cannot be covered in a single blog post. Because of cultural bias, lack of cultural understanding, and social circumstances, untreated mental health problems with African Americans still persists.

     Mental health is stigmatized and misunderstood within the African American community. African Americans will often rely on family, religious and social communities for emotional support rather than see a mental health professional, according to studies from National Alliance of Mental Illness. And when African Americans do seek treatment it is usually through primary care doctors rather than through speciality care. These primary care doctors are not equipped with the right type of education to deliver an accurate diagnosis. Often, patients will be given a misdiagnosis; for example, Schizophrenia is over diagnosed in the African American population.

Shown is a foster home in southern Texas. Forty-five percent of foster children are African American. Photo by Kewing

Shown is a foster home in southern Texas. Forty-five percent of foster children are African American. Photo by Kewing

     On the other hand, there is a cultural bias against health care professionals preventing African Americans from accessing health care. Prior experiences, a track record of misdiagnoses, lack of cultural understanding, and poor treatment influence an African American’s decision to avoid health care. In fact, less than two percent of psychiatrists and psychologists are African American, leading to an institutional bias against common understanding. This isn’t to say that all African Americans share the same experiences, but cultural understanding is crucial in the treatment of patients. African Americans are disportionately more likely to experience social circumstances that increase their chances of promoting a mental illness. Forty-five percent of children in foster care are African American, a system that increases a person’s odds of developing a mental illness.

     One way to overcome this issue is to develop an overall awareness of cultural and ethnic differences, such as perceptions of mental illness and predispositions to it. Health care professionals must simply ask more questions before diagnosing a patient. There also needs to be a discussion in the African American community to decrease social stigma against the medical establishment.

     This information did not discuss socio economic issues among African Americans as well.

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Mobile Phone Challenge: Target Hope

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Target Hope, a community service and mentorship/leadership program, would like to make students aware of the opportunities and resources offered on the Mizzou campus. Vice Pres. Danielle Pollard says the resources on campus are underutilized.

“I am basically the presidents right hand man,” Pollard said. “[The President and I] go to an elementary school called Gentry and mentor students. We also focus on making students aware of resources on the Mizzou campus, such as: ARS, Counseling Center and Women’s Center.”

Target Hope wants students to have easy access to their organization. Their twitter can be found at @targethope_mu.

For my regular readers: This was a mobile phone challenge where I could only use my phone to publish, gather media, etc for this blog. My normal blog post will be posted at the end of this week. Thanks!

Fall at Pinnacle Youth Park

PINNACLE YOUTH PARK 

On Sunday Oct. 27th, 2013 my friends and I took a trip to Pinnacle Youth Park located 12 miles outside Columbia, MO. The fall trees changing colors were beautiful accompanied with the crisp cool air. Here are just a few pictures taken on the adventure.