Study suggests mental illness checkups - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Study suggests mental illness checkups

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A new study says you should get your brain checked as often as you have a physical.  British researchers at the University of Cambridge say you should treat your brain like any other organ in your body.  Just like you workout to keep physically fit, researchers say it is also important to keep your brain fit.

Common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety are easily treated, especially if caught early.  Psychologist Diane Ellis said, "If we catch it very, very early, it's much easier, much quicker and people don't have to have the misery that they might have if things are caught later."

"As a society, we take our mental health for granted," said Professor Barbara Sahakian, a leading UK neuroscientist. "But just like our bodies, it is important to keep our brains fit."   Sahakian added, "We need to educate the public about what to look for and make them aware of the importance of early detection and intervention."

The National Institute of Mental Health reports 26 percent of American adults suffer from some sort of mental illness each year.  These adults tend to try living with their conditions for an average of 10 years before seeking medical help and treatments.  Whether it is depression, anxiety or something more serious, the earlier it is detected, the more savings could be had.

According to the study, these are the estimated total annual costs including health service costs, lost earnings, lost productivity and human costs in the UK: depression - $31-36.8 billion; anxiety - $14 billion; schizophrenia - $20.6 billion; dementia - $26 billion; somatic disorder - $27 billion.

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