Mental Health Struggles: Part 1 Dealing with the Past
The root causes of mental health are not merely biological or psychological but also social, referred to by specialists as the bio-psycho-social paradigm. The biopsychosocial model views health and illness behaviors as products of biological characteristics (such as genes), behavioral factors (such as lifestyle, stress, and health beliefs), and social conditions (such as cultural influences, family relationships, and social support). It shows that a person’s problems are all connected, and they may be more complex than previously imagined.
These three facets of our humanity relate to our overall mental health, but interestingly, we tend to focus on biological and psychological factors, and neglect our sociological factors. Our neglect of sociological factors has become detrimental to our mental health in Canada, because all humans experience anxiety and depression based on life circumstances. It actually makes perfect sense — every challenging situation, source of stress, or lack of support will accelerate the risk of anxiety and depression. We should grasp this: for a significant portion of humans, anxiety and depression is not a problem with the brain, but with life circumstances. So in order for long-lasting health and transformation to take root, we will need to care for our human needs. We can begin to do this by dealing with the past.
Our past, plays an instrumental role, in relation to our mental health in the present. Quite simply, anxiety and depression can, and often will, become the human bodies normal response to abnormal life experiences (in this case, particularly trauma in childhood/adolescence). Anxiety and depression become the necessary intermediate mechanism for our body to attempt to deal with trauma.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE) (originally conducted upon 17,000 individuals seeking medical care) unearthed these realities with disturbing results — the study requested information in relation to ten categories, which would relate directly to childhood trauma (physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; physical or emotional neglect; exposure to domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental illness; parental separation; incarcerated household member), accompanied by a detailed medical questionnaire.
The study revealed that every category of traumatic experience, radically increased the probability of anxiety and depression in adulthood. In particular, 87% of individuals had experienced at least one of the categories; six categories of traumatic events in childhood meant the individual was five times more likely to experience anxiety or depression in adulthood; while seven categories meant the individual was 3,000% more likely to attempt suicide as an adult. Sometimes we can process the past with friends and family, but often this is an opportunity to work with a professional to uncover the effect of the past so that it doesn’t continue to affect you in the future.
Brianna Matchett, MC, is trained in many areas such as anxiety and self-esteem, plus many more. For more information on Brianna and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.