Beyond the social stigma and the facades we all put up to protect ourselves, it’s time to talk about mental health and why it’s important.

It takes strength from all of us to get past those barriers, but it’s crucial. Up to one in five people in the U.S. are actively struggling with a mental health condition. That includes depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and a myriad of other conditions. An openness to talk about and discuss our own mental health challenges could save the life of someone else who is struggling. Here’s why.

1. Chronic health conditions and mental illness can be congruent

As we noted in our “10 Facts About Mental Health” post:

“Mental illness and chronic pain go hand-in-hand, with a statistically significant increase in the likelihood of developing one as a result of the other. Additionally, 23% of suicides tested positive for antidepressants, and nearly 21% tested positive for opiates, including prescription pain medications. As a result, people living with mental illness die an average of 25 years earlier than someone who is not faced with this condition.”

Those aforementioned stigmas against mental health treatment will deter up to 40% of people from getting help. With suicide causing more deaths in the U.S. than homicide, it’s critical that more people who need help get it.

2. Over 62% of fibromyalgia patients will experience depression, and 56% will experience anxiety

For people who already suffer from the effects of fibromyalgia, the increased risk for mental health issues creates new challenges for treatment. Consider that:

Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression make coping with the pain of fibromyalgia even more difficult. Both mental health conditions and fibromyalgia are ‘invisible’ illnesses that make dealing with the social stigma part of both a challenge. Add additional health issues to the long-term issues surrounding both mental health and fibromyalgia, and you have the potential for increasing severity of both.”

In our post on the subject, we recommended some lifestyle habits that can help manage symptoms as well as encouraging patients to talk to their doctor.

3. Depression can lead to chronic pain

Whether it’s due to pain treatment medications, lifestyle changes, post-traumatic stress disorder, or sleep issues, there is often an increase in depression among pain patients. Likewise, many of those same factors can increase the risk of chronic pain symptoms among depressed patients.

Healthcare professionals who miss the signs of related depression and chronic pain often treat only one factor in a patient’s condition. We noted that:

“The doctor treating the chronic pain may not be able to distinguish depression from chronic pain. Similarly, a therapist working with a depressed patient may assume that the chronic pain is a result of the aches of depression: tense muscles and slumped posture that can lead to pain. Many depressed patients complain of pain, but the therapist may assume it is episodic (new to the depression) and not chronic (lasting longer than three months). This missed diagnosis makes it very difficult to effectively treat either condition.”

As we discussed in our post, however, once health care professionals are watching for warning signs, treat