Prioritizing Your Mental Health
- Hugh Jackman, 54, recently shared he goes to therapy to address the trauma he experienced at age 8 when his mother left home for good.
- Taking care of your mental health is extremely important. One way to help you address your mental health is through therapy.
- One of our experts recommends practicing mindfulness and meditation in order to begin a journey of healing.
- Medicating isn’t necessary for everyone, but genetic testing can help determine the best course of mental health treatment for people struggling with issues like anxiety and depression. This testing help doctors gauge which medications are likely to work for their patients and cause the least amount of problematic side effects.
Jackman, now a 54-year-old actor and Broadway star, was only 8 years old when his mother, Grace McNeil, left their family home. For years, Jackman hoped his mother would return to Australia from the United Kingdom, but she never did.Read More
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Thankfully, Jackman has a good relationship his mother today, but he does go to therapy to help work through the unresolved trauma of her disappearance.
“I just started it recently. It helped me a lot,” he said. “We all need a village.
“Having someone really smart, who’s a little bit removed from your world, can be really helpful.”
And beyond addressing his past with his mother, Jackman also says therapy has helped him with all of the relationships in his life.
“Most importantly, it’s helping me to be more relational with the people I love in my life, and really understanding and living in their shoes and being clear to be able to see them,” he said.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health like Hugh Jackman
Taking care of your mental health is of the utmost importance, but it’s not always easy. One place to start is to be aware of the following signs that there may be something affecting your mind:
- A change in eating or sleeping habits
- Losing interest in people or usual activities
- Experiencing little or no energy
- Numb and/or hopeless feelings
- Turning to drinking or drugs more than usual
- Non-typical angry, upset or on-edge feelings
- Yelling/fighting with loved ones
- Experiencing mood swings
- Intrusive thoughts
- Trouble getting through daily tasks
Symptoms of a mental health disease or issue can vary from person to person, so it’s always crucial to promptly speak with a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any changes to your physical or mental health. There are many treatment options available and many different healthy ways to help you cope.
One such option is therapy. In a previous conversation with SurvivorNet, ovarian cancer survivor Ni Guttenfelder talked about how finding the right counselor helped her process the feelings that came after her diagnosis.
“One of the things that my counselor has taught me from the very beginning that has helped me is the concept of acceptance,” she says. “Acceptance is a process. It’s like downloading a computer file in increments. Visualizing it in that way has really helped me.”
In addition to therapy, meditation and practicing mindfulness can also be used to cope with a mental health struggle. Dr. Deepak Chopra, acclaimed author and pioneer of mindfulness movement, spoke with SurvivorNet about how asking yourself who you really are is the first step down the path to practicing mindfulness.
“If we can combine our actions in the world with reflective self inquiry, love and compassion, and a state of secure, stable, ornamental, peaceful being without the addictions that humans have, then we can begin our journey of healing,” Dr. Chopra explained.
Medicating certainly isn’t the right choice for everyone when it comes to addressing a mental health issue, but there should be no shame in turning to medication when you need it. That being said, it can be hard to find the right one. These days, however, there is a form of genetic testing that has shown the ability to match people with the best medication for mental health treatment.
We’ve seen genetic testing used for treatment plans for other diseases, such as certain types of cancer, but the ability to use it to help people who are suffering from things like anxiety and depression is relatively new.
“Doing the genetic testing has absolutely transformed the landscape of psycho-pharmacology,” psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik told SurvivorNet. “It’s something that I highly recommend for anybody that is taking medication, whether they are being treated for cancer, or not … I recommend it for children who are taking medication. I recommend it for elderly people. Anybody who is taking medication, I think, can greatly benefit from genetic testing.”
Genetic testing can give a profile of how a person is likely to respond to different types of psychiatric medications, Dr. Plutchik explained. Testing is also available to create a profile of how patients will likely respond to different sorts of pain medications, which can be really beneficial for those going through some other sort of health issue.
Genetic testing “gives me information about which medications are likely to work without having problematic side effects. It also gives information about interactions between any of the psych medications that we choose,” and other medications a patient may be taking, Dr. Plutchik said.
The genetic test that Dr. Plutchik was discussing, Genomind, looks at multiple factors before determining which treatment is likely to have successful results and minimal side-effects. The test examines certain genes that are associated with responses to medications commonly prescribed for mental health issues and then looks into the patient’s ability to metabolize medication.
If you’re considering going on medication for mental health treatment, consider asking your doctor if genetic testing might be helpful for you.
Contributing: Dr. Lori Plutchik