Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States and probably the world. It affects millions of men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds. Anxiety disorders cost more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country's $148 billion total mental health bill, according to "The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders," a study commissioned by ADAA and published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol. 60, No. 7, July 1999. (Statistics provided by Anxiety Disorders Association of America.)

Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression will continue to increase due to traumatic events such as wars, natural disasters and even situations that occur locally. For example, when a disaster happens and people die, more than just those involved directly are affected. The impact is felt by the entire community and by people who are sensitive to reading or watching the aftermath of disasters.

As someone who lived with a mental health disorder for thirty years, I cannot stress enough the importance of seeking professional help immediately when a person is experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder; regardless of its origin. The longer a person waits, the more challenging it can become to eliminate the symptoms.

I believe that mental health disorders don’t get the attention they deserve because they are not discussed as openly as other disorders. Shame and stigma prevent our society from creating an open dialogue about mental health disorders and there is no reason to feel shame or embarrassment about living with a mental health disorder. People visit mental health professionals second to visiting a primary care doctor.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and I encourage anyone experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder to reach out and explore the many options available today to begin their path of healing. Do your homework and put together your “Recovery Team.” Find doctors, therapists and practitioners who are experienced in solution-based techniques and will support you on your journey of recovery. Explore conventional, complimentary and alternative techniques. What works for one person may not be right for another.

For anyone living with a mental health disorder or cares for someone who does, I want to offer support and encouragement. There’s hope. There’s help. Recovery is possible. I encourage you today to take charge of your mental health.

Author's Bio: 

Karen Muranko has personally experienced the extreme challenges one can face living with Panic Disorder. She lived with the disorder for 20 years before being diagnosed and another 10 years until she was fortunate enough to meet a team of women who helped her achieve recovery. Karen has been in recovery since June 2002.

Karen speaks openly about living with Panic Disorder and, more importantly, how much her life has changed for the better being in recovery. Karen feels she has accomplished her goal of being panic-free and enjoys the benefits of living without the constant worries that can accompany Panic Disorder. Karen’s goal is to offer hope and encouragement to those living with Anxiety Disorders believe that recovery is achievable.

Karen offers Personalized Anxiety Wellness Mentoring sessions by phone nationwide and e-mail sessions worldwide. Karen assists others in finding their solutions to recovery.