The State of Mental Health in America
The Pandemic Aftermath
The year 2021 had its fair share of road bumps, and will likely go down in history as one of the most challenging years of the 21st century. From dealing with multiple waves of the pandemic, uncertainty, and a strange introduction to the Greek alphabet (Thanks, COVID.), to a global recession and political chaos, the year behind us brought with it many challenges.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that our mental health as a collective was also affected. In fact, Mental Health America released an annual report showing that nearly 50 million Americans, or 1 in 5, are experiencing a mental illness. And more than half of them are going untreated.
A Sharp Spike in Depression
The fear of being infected or infecting someone else, the economic downturn, and social isolation have led an increasing number of people to ruminate, feel hopeless and helpless, and, ultimately, experience symptoms of depression.
In fact, the first national study in the US to assess the change in the prevalence of depression before and during COVID-19 found that 32.8% of US adults experienced elevated depressive symptoms in 2021, compared to 27.8% of adults in the early months of the pandemic in 2020, and 8.5% before the pandemic.
These sustained high levels of depression are unique and have never been reported before. For example, while previous large-scale traumatic events such as Hurricane Ike or Ebola in Sierra Leone yielded high levels of depression following the traumatic events but lowered over time, the COVID-19 context has maintained high levels of depression.
How Anxiety & Depression Change the Brain
When you feel anxious, your body goes on alert, prompting your brain to prepare itself for flight or fight mode. In an attempt to help you fight off whatever has made you anxious, your brain floods your central nervous system with adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones tell your body that something scary is about to happen. Their role is to help you cope with danger. In order to do that, they sharpen your senses and make your reflexes faster. In a non-anxious brain, when the danger is gone, the sympathetic part of your nervous system takes over and calms you down. But when you suffer from anxiety, you may not be able to reach that sense of calm. Instead, the rush of stress hormones causes your brain to release even more stress hormones until you’re simply overwhelmed.
When excess amounts of stress hormones flood the brain over and over again, your baseline level of anxiety may increase. You might go from having mild anxiety, which most of us experience on a day-to-day basis, to moderate anxiety. Moderate anxiety is slightly more severe and overwhelming and makes you feel nervous and agitated on a regular basis. If your brain continues to be overly sensitive to anxiety, your baseline anxiety level might become so severe that you’re unable to continue thinking rationally. Panic attacks are another sign of severe anxiety.
Personalized Brain-Based Interventions
Brain maps called Quantitative Electroencephalography (qEEG) are a tool used to identify these changes in the brain. A qEEG brain map objectively measures brain function and identifies specific regions of the brain that may be producing too much, or too little electrical activity compared to a controlled, normative database of your same age and gender. A brain map takes less than an hour to record and is neither invasive nor painful. You simply wear a cap with 19 sensors that record your brain’s electrical activity while you relax in a chair. It is similar to having an EKG record your heart. It’s as safe as a stethoscope!
At the Brain Performance Center we use EEG brain mapping to objectively measure brainwave function. An EEG brain map can identify cellular nutrient deficiencies in the brain and also, if needed, guide targeted neurofeedback therapy. Over 85% of our clients have significant improvement in both their symptoms and EEG imaging.
Contact the Brain Performance Center for more information about qEEG brain mapping and Neurofeedback Training. Training can now be done in your home with state-of-the-art remote neurofeedback equipment. Email us at Info@BrainPerformance.com or call us at 800-385-0710.