Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949 and the purpose of it is to raise awareness and educate the people about mental health issues.
We use a few mental health terms in our daily lives. Some people use these terms casually without paying much attention, but others use them to speak about a specific diagnosis. For instance, emotional exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, etc.
US Today, a news outlet, has explained some of the most commonly used mental health terms and when you can use them.
- Emotional Exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion could be one of the symptoms of mental health issues, such as a major depressive disorder. As such, it is not a specific clinical syndrome. People often say they are emotionally exhausted after physical exertion and when they are too low in energy.
Dr. Vaile Wright, Senior Director of Health Care Innovation in the Practice Directorate at the American Psychological Association, says, “Emotional exhaustion is this sense of overwhelmingness. Overwhelmed to the point where you feel like you don’t have the capacity to deal anymore. It’s physical tiredness. It’s mental tiredness. It’s difficulty concentrating. It’s all the things that we experience when we’re just at our capacity.”
Burnout is another common term people often use when they are physically or mentally. You may feel it when you are stressed out or overwhelmed about work. The World Health Organization (WHO) says burnout is a “form of job-related stress that has not been successfully managed.”
In a New York Times piece published last month, Prof. Adam Grant of Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania called languishing “a neglected middle child of mental health.” He wrote, “It’s the void between depression and flourishing – the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either,” according to USA Today. Languishing is a feeling of a lack of focus and a general purgatory between mental wellness and illness.
Alonely is the opposite of loneliness, according to Psychology Today. Although rare, it is a term used when you are dissatisfied after spending enough time by yourself. The feeling of alonely has become more common during the pandemic, as home, school and office life has been limited to one space.
Virginia Thomas, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Middlebury College, says, “Some people inherently desire more solitude than others, and when it’s not connected with shyness or social anxiety, seeking time alone is a perfectly well-adjusted thing to do. However, when this desire isn’t fulfilled, the feeling of aloneliness results (the prefix ‘a’ indicating not, as in asymmetrical).”
- Anxiety and Depression
Most of us have some type of anxiety but that does not necessarily mean we have been officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Clinical anxiety disorders involved “repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks),” according to Mayo Clinic.
On the other hand, depression is a specific clinical term use to describe a mood disorder. Mayo Clinic says, “More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness and you can’t simply ‘snap out’ of it. Depression may require long-term treatment.”
Flourishing is yet another mental health phrase that is used as an antonym of the terms listed above. You are flourishing if you are thriving mentally and “have a strong sense of meaning, mastery, and mattering to others,” according to Prof. Grant. He called flourishing the other end of the mental health spectrum in the New York Times piece. It “indicates that you are at your best as far as your well-being is concerned,” says USA Today.