77% of Americans have used one of these ‘unhealthy coping mechanisms’ to manage a mental health crisis… which one have you fallen into?
- Over three-quarters of Americans know habits like drinking and club use are bad
- These coping habits feel good in the moment but carry long-term consequences
- READ MORE: American children are engulfed in a worsening mental health crisis
More than three-quarters of Americans knowingly engage in unhealthy coping habits, a study suggests.
A survey conducted by Myriad Genetics in Salt Lake City, Utah, found that 77 percent of Americans report using drugs or unhealthy eating or sleeping to cope with mental health issues.
These coping mechanisms will help a person feel better in the short term sometimes, but come with long-term consequences.
Coping with mental health struggles goes hand-in-hand with addiction, and this has been borne out in the US where fatal drug overdoses reached 107,000 in 2021. Over four percent were suicides.
Many people dealing with mental illness struggle to find a treatment regimen that relieves their depression and anxiety symptoms, steering them toward unhealthy self-medicating rather than employing advice issued by a mental health expert.
The survey responses show that while a vast majority of Americans know that some of their coping mechanisms are unhealthy, they engage anyway because those habits provide temporary relief
A nationwide survey conducted by the genetic testing company found addictive or unhealthy coping mechanisms that people most eagerly engage include substance abuse such as drinking or consuming marijuana.
It also included: gambling, either sleeping not enough or too much, eating too much or too little, overusing social media, binging television shows and partying.
Dawn Johnson, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at the Indiana Center for Recovery in South Bend said: ‘Many of my patients have struggled with depression and/or anxiety but failed to find a treatment that made them feel better.
‘So, they resorted to alcohol, drugs or destructive behaviors to sooth themselves, as these offered short-term relief.
‘However, this behavior resulted in worsening mental health and destruction of their lives. I’ve seen it personally.’
The GeneSight Mental Health Monitor survey found that 94 percent of Americans agreed that substance and behavioral addictions often mask deeper mental health issues.
But, this same group said they engage in them anyway.
For example, 70 percent of people diagnosed with anxiety or depression slept either too much or too little to deal with their symptoms.
Roughly 40 percent used alcohol to cope, while 20 percent used marijuana.
Around the same amount of people used other drugs such as painkillers to alleviate their illness.
Sixty-four percent withdrew from social activities, leading to isolation that more often than not worsens depression and anxiety.
Meanwhile, 49 percent said they binge-watch TV or movies to distract themselves from unpleasant emotions.
While roughly 90 percent of survey respondents acknowledged that you can’t party your depression away, about 10 percent choose to go clubbing anyway.
And nearly everyone understand that excessive gambling is a band-aid for some underlying mental health issue, but that knowledge is not enough to stop nearly 10 percent of respondents.
The new survey results come while the US is entrenched in a mental health crisis driven by skyrocketing rates of substance abuse, feelings of isolation that were made worse during the pandemic, and other uniquely American problems such as near-constant school shootings and prohibitively-priced healthcare.
American children are reporting an increasing number of mental health issues, and while the pandemic certainly exacerbated issues, figures had already been rising for years before Covid engulfed the world three years ago.
A study published last year found that nearly ten percent of American children 17 or young reported symptoms of anxiety, with just under five percent reporting depression symptoms.