There’s a common notion that most mental health disorders first emerge in your 20’s. But in such a connected era with conflicting information, we may wonder if that is fact or fiction. In order to get to the bottom of this mental mystery, Vice’s Social Editor Hanson O’Haver sat down with National Institute of Mental health doctoral fellow Dr. Johanna Jarco.
The short answer is yes, many mental health disorders begin to emerge in the 20’s. But not all disorders behave in the same way. Some, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, have much stronger genetic links. But others, like anxiety and depression, most likely take hold during adolescence and fully manifest themselves in the early 20’s. The reason for this, is the brain’s continuous development. Changes are still happening during adolescence and into your 20’s so your brain is able to be influenced by your social environment, among other external factors.
Dr. Jarco also talks about preventative treatment. Between the cost of mental health, and the stigma surrounding it, many people all too often ignore the warning signs. It’s imperative that we know our risk factors, and at the first notice of symptoms, get treatment. After all, it is easier to treat many disorders when they are caught earlier. She says that over time, these disorders behave like habits and become increasingly hard to control and break.
But it’s not just a “not me” factor. Many people avoid treatment because of the associated costs. True, neglecting your mental health may save you money in the short term, but like any other illness left untreated, it can wreak financial havoc in the long run. Many people opt to turn to the internet and popular medical forums. Jarco says that this is a good first step, but just is not an acceptable alternative to the opinion and guidance of an actual medical professional.
We’re constantly learning more about mental health, and so you should know where you stand. Physicals come once a year for our bodies; it’s about time we start taking preventative care of our minds.