What you need to know about behavioral health
Behavioral health refers to how your habits affect your mental and physical well-being.
Mental health generally refers to the entire well-being of an individual.
On the other hand, behavioral health refers to the impact certain behaviors have on the overall well-being of an individual.
From the above definition, we can clearly identify that mental health is a subset of behavioral health.
(I.e behaviors or patterns of an individual can be responsible for the mental health issues they face).
To further differentiate these two concepts, let’s look at the World Health Organisation definition of mental health.
According to WHO,
Mental health is the ability of an individual to cope with life’s challenges, engage in fruitful and productive work activities, and make necessary contributions to his/her community.
What are examples of behavioral health?
1. Eating disorder
Eating disorder is a form of behavioral disorder. The two most common forms of eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
Anorexia is characterized by an abnormal fear of weight gain and a wrong perception of one’s weight.
Most people living with anorexia have a very low weight but they’re still scared of gaining weight.
Anorexic patients go through extreme measures to lose weight.
They engage in force vomiting and drug overdose (laxative) in order to lose weight.
The major problem with anorexia is the fact that people equate a lesser weight with a sense of worthiness.
Hence, they engage in any means possible to lose weight.
Bulimia nervosa is a very dangerous eating disorder.
It is characterized by an inability to control one’s consumption followed by the use of laxatives to get rid of the excess calories.
A bulimia patient eats a lot in an uncontrollable manner and engages in extreme measures in order to lose the additional weight.
The measures may include;
- Weight loss pills
- Excessive exercise
- Impromptu fasting
- And a very strict diet
Just like anorexia nervosa a person living with bulimia has a self-imposed image of what a perfect body should be like.
Their popular lines are;
- My hips should be a 24…
- I look too fat…
- Why do I look like a wheel?
- No one is this size anymore!
2. Addiction to exercise
It’s no secret that exercising is a good activity for the overall functioning of the body.
It is a healthy essential that should be part of our daily routine.
However, in behavioral health, there can be exercise abuse.
Exercise becomes disastrous when it is done without consideration about your health or well-being.
When you are addicted to exercise you engage in it despite any negative consequences.
Some low-low-weight individuals continuously engage in different forms of exercise despite their weight.
Finally, if you constantly engage in exercises despite the risks of an injury this might be a sign of exercise addiction.
Another major behavioral health disorder that affects most people is porn/sex addiction.
Technology is a very helpful innovation but it also has some negative drawbacks.
With the internet, you can easily access different porn sites.
A lot of people have become addicted to visiting these sites.
They engage in this activity in an uncontrollable manner.
When you cannot control how you watch or visit poem sites, you are suffering from porn addiction.
Just like porn addiction, sex addiction is an uncontrollable need to have sex.
A person with sex addiction has zero-tolerance for control.
He/she does not care about the negative consequences that may arise as a result of continuous sex.
Negative consequences such as;
- Sexually transmitted diseases,
- Sexually transmitted infections,
- Financial issues have no power over a sex addict.
The ultimate goal in his/her mind is to experience relief and this relief can only be achieved when they engage in the art.
4. Internet addiction
When you neglect your work, family, self-care routine, and other important activities just to spend time on the internet. This is a serious form of Internet abuse.
It is normal to feel guilty sometimes when you spend a lot of time on Instagram or Facebook.
Probably you didn’t feel like working a lot so you spent a lot of hours scrolling through social media. This happens to me too.
However, it becomes abnormal when you make it a habit. A bad habit that you have absolutely no control over.
5. Gambling addiction
A lot of families have issues as a result of this practice of “gambling.”
Most people gamble their properties, savings, children’s tuition, and family heirloom or inheritance.
This is a behavioral health disorder.
6. Shopping addiction
Shopping is not wrong, we all need to shop in order to improve our look, style, and fashion.
However, when you constantly engage in impulsive buying without regard for groceries and other important bills.
This becomes a behavioral disorder.
7. Work addiction
We all want to be successful, however, success should not come at the expense of important life occurrences.
Important life occurences like sending time with our family, friends, and stable relationships.
An addiction to work can lead to isolation, segregation, and emotional detachment from family, friends, and prospective relationships.
It is good to work hard however, we need to balance our work and personal life.
What does a behavioral health specialist do?
There are different professions associated with behavioral health disorders.
- Behavioral therapists,
- And other health practitioners.
The following are the roles and duties of a behavioral health therapist;
- Work with other health practitioners/specialists to provide for the patient’s emotional and physical needs.
- Handles counseling sessions and treats individuals with behavioral issues.
- Conduct assessment to monitor or identify specific behavioral patterns new lines.
- Collect and safeguard data and records of patients.
- Assess patients’ symptoms and refer them to a therapist when the need arises.
Is a behaviorist a doctor?
Behavioral medicine deals with the study of the diagnosis, treatment, and management of behavioral health disorders.
It involves a combination of clinical and public health courses including;
- Family medicine,
- Adolescent medicine, etc.
To get qualified as a behavioral health specialist you will need;
- 4 years bachelor’s degree
- 4 years in Medical College for the doctor of medicine degree (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO)
What are behavioral symptoms?
Behavioral symptoms refer to repetitive habits or regular activities that are inappropriate, acceptable, and disruptive.
They include semicolons self-harm drug use, social isolation, hostility e.t.c
Is ADHD behavioral health?
Attention-deficit hyperactivity deficiency is classified as a mental illness as well as a behavioral disorder because it affects one’s behavior.
ADHD is a mental disorder characterized by lack of concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.
It occurs in children as well as adults however, it is the most common mental condition affecting children.
How can behavioral health be improved?
In health counseling, you have access to professional behavioral health therapists and other health practitioners with a better understanding of your condition.
With their skills, they can help you or recommend it to other specialists who can.
If you have noticed that you feel addicted to a potentially damaging habit and you can’t seem to stop.
It is important that you visit a behavioral health specialist.
They are well trained to help you by diagnosing, accessing, and offering possible treatments/management procedures.