Mental Health: When you need extra help


Mental health problems rarely stay in one place. If we catch them early, they often improve. If we wait too long, they can easily get worse and turn into a true mental health disorder, like anxiety or depression.

Mental health and substance use also feed into each other: having a mental illness double the risk of having a substance use problem, and people with substance use problems are three times as likely to have a mental illness1

Mental health and substance use disorders are common and not to be taken lightly. Consider these facts:1-5

Frequency:

  • In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness or addiction.
  • By age 40, about half of Canadians have had (or still have) a mental illness.
  • About 4.6% of Canadians have an anxiety disorder, while 5.4% have a major depression.
  • Over a lifetime, about 18% of Canadians meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder (the most common substance use disorder).

Impact:

  • Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Canada
  • People with mental illness and substance use disorders are more likely to die early.
  • Tobacco is the leading cause of premature death, responsible for 17% of cases.
  • Depression reduces cognitive (thinking) performance on the job about 35% of the time.

Recognizing when you need extra help can make all the difference. Reach out to a health professional if you experience symptoms like this:5

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Difficulty carrying out daily activities
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Changes in eating patterns, sleep habits, or sex drive
  • Overuse of substances
  • Physical symptoms without obvious cause (such as headaches or stomach aches)
  • Thought about self-harm

Such symptoms could signal depression or anxiety. Talk to your doctor to learn more. Once you have a diagnosis, you and your doctor can lay out a treatment plan, which in most cases will include talk therapy and/or medication. In fact, research suggest that combining therapy and medication has the strongest and most lasting effect for both depression and anxiety.6

Don’t hesitate to use your London Drugs pharmacists as a resource. Your pharmacists can provide general guidance on mental health and substance use, help you navigate the healthcare system, and connect you to community resources. If you start a medication for a mental health disorder, your pharmacists can answer your questions about the drug and help you manage side effects.

 

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