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Mental Illness Is Far More Common Than We Knew

A new study that followed a group of New Zealanders from birth to midlife shows that well over 80 percent of people develop a diagnosable mental illness at some point in their lives, Scientific American reports. Researchers said this means you are more likely to develop a bout of mental illness than diabetes, heart disease or cancer. They tempered the report by saying “substantial” evidence shows that, for most people, these bouts are not “enduring,” and don’t translate into lifelong mental illness.

Only last month, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State confirmed that anxiety and depression are exploding in America, specifically among college students. An estimated 40 million Americans, about 18 percent of the population over the age of 18, struggle with anxiety, including more than half of all American college students. Additionally, an estimated 500,000 American teens struggle with depression, and more than three-quarters of them are girls.

While there are number of hypotheses on what is causing so much turmoil, we do know there are many treatment options available, and some of the most effective treatments are also among the safest and least expensive, and don't involve drugs. This is important, because when it comes to conventional treatment with drugs, nearly twice as many adult women also use psychiatric drugs than men. One successful non-drug approach involves mindfulness training, which can help combat the overstimulation and influence of all kinds of environmental disturbances, including social media.

Research also shows your diet can have a profound effect on your mental health. Gastrointestinal abnormalities have been linked to a variety of psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, hyperactivity and schizophrenia. Since gut bacteria produce mood-boosting neurotransmitters, it’s important to work toward balancing your gut bacteria. In fact, researchers in New Zealand found increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables may improve your mental wellbeing in as little as two weeks. Probiotics also help reduce symptoms of depression.
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