An Overview of Mental Health in Bristol, Connecticut
Bristol, Connecticut, is a beautiful, bustling town near Hartford. The city is home to ESPN’s main studios and is only a few hours from major cities such as Boston and New York. Bristol’s approximately 60,000 residents enjoy access to fine dining and entertainment in their recently revitalized downtown, as well as in nearby city centers such as Hartford.
Bristol, Connecticut – Statistics
Bristol residents enjoy a moderate median income of around $60k per year. Though property prices are high, at about $194,600 on average, over 65% of residents own their home. But prosperity does not mean immunity to mental health problems. About one percent of all Bristol deaths are self-inflicted, making suicide the tenth leading cause of death. Another four percent of the population seek behavioral health care, with nearly three-quarters of those suffering from multiple concurrent diagnoses. The most common diagnoses were alcohol dependence or withdrawal, anxiety disorders, episodic mood disorders, opioid addiction, and depression disorders.
Many of these challenges are exacerbated by the fact that there are a mere 421 mental health professionals per 100,000 people in Bristol, Connecticut. Though therapy is proven to help in overcoming mental illness, access to therapy can often become a barrier. Those who need it most often struggle with finding transportation, making time, budgeting for services, or even just locating a therapist to work with.
Mental Health Challenges in Bristol
One of the things Connecticut is most known for is its foliage. With seasonal changes so beautiful, one might think there’s no way this could be affecting anyone negatively, but Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common problem that occurs most frequently in northern climates as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Also known as seasonal depression, seasonal affective disorder is a mental illness similar to bipolar disorder or depression, except that it waxes and wanes with the seasons. Symptoms commonly begin appearing between ages 20 and 30, but can show up as early as the teens. Typically, the disorder is associated with winter months, giving it the nickname, “winter blues,” but it can also occur during the spring or summer, depending on the person.
Seasonal depression affects everyone differently, and many of the symptoms may be mistaken for major depressive disorder or anxiety disorders. Some such symptoms may include
- Low self-esteem
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Constant worrying
- Increased tension and stress levels
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- Difficulty getting out of bed
- Reduced libido
- Significant changes in diet, such as overeating or loss of appetite
- Social isolation
The primary factor that separates seasonal affective disorder from other depression and anxiety disorder is that it is consistently tied to seasonal changes. Seasonal depression is most common in women, and increases in frequency the further you live from the equator, so residents of northern climates are most at risk.
What You Can Do
If you think you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, or any other mental health complaint, it’s important to contact a therapist as soon as possible. Although a therapist is necessary to achieve an official diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder, you may be able to identify the problem yourself through practices such as mood tracking or journaling. Pay special attention to whether your mood worsens or improves during major seasonal changes. Remember, though winter is the most common culprit, some people find their depressive seasons reversed, with their downswing occurring during the warmer months, so don’t rule it out based on that. Even if you think you know what you may be suffering from, it’s still important to work with a therapist, as that’s the only way to ensure you’re treating the problem correctly.
Working with a therapist can help you come up with coping skills to get you through the tougher months. Your therapist may recommend journaling, mental exercises, or the use of a special lamp which can simulate sunlight on shorter days. No two cases are exactly alike, so you and your therapist will work together to come up with a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Finding a therapist doesn’t have to be a barrier to your mental health. E-Counseling offers a directory of mental health professionals in your area to help you find the therapy you need.