One in five US adults experienced mental illness in 2019. Toward the end of 2020, a year that brought, among other things, immense grief, instability, and uncertainty, Americans' mental health was "worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades," reported an annual Gallup survey that has tracked the well-being of people since 2001.
While you or someone you know may have a history with mental illness, Raquel Martin, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and researcher, wants to remind us all that no two diagnoses or experiences are the same.
In the video above, Dr. Martin uses depression as an example, comparing two different people. Both have depression, though they show varying symptoms: one of them displays signs of increased fatigue, trouble sleeping, and a depressed mood, while the second person exhibits increased irritability, risk behaviors, as well as lack of sleep and concentration problems. "Of course there's more to it, but they can both have depression," Dr. Martin states. "Your mental health diagnosis is a fingerprint, so please don't think that representations of one diagnosis are the only way."
Dr. Martin added that just because your mental illness isn't what you believe to be "typical," doesn't mean you do not have that mental illness or that your symptoms aren't valid. Sure, set tools exist (like the DSM—5) for diagnosing and treating people with mental illness; however, as Dr. Martin wrote in the video's comments, "there is no textbook case." Your mental health is like a fingerprint: unique to you.
If you are feeling anxious or depressed and need assistance finding help, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (1-800-950-6264) have resources available.