Unlike physical ailments, mental health issues are the ones that are the most widely ignored. This is primarily because one, it is relatively easy to ignore these problems since they do not cause any apparent discomfort like a physical disease would. Secondly, mental health issues are often the most difficult to understand and deal with, which makes ignoring them one of the easiest options available.
However, the repercussions of shrugging off any signs of a mental health problem can be far-reaching and life-threatening, at the very least.
Which is why in this week’s post, we are covering some of the most common mental health issues in an attempt to enhance your awareness about them and hopefully prompt you to take action if you see some symptoms around you.
Depicted as one of the most common mental health issues, depression is a mood disorder that affects more than 300 million people worldwide. It is characterised by low mood, sadness, loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed, low self-esteem and even decreased appetite. While these are symptoms anyone may experience in their daily lives, you must be concerned if they persist or have debilitating effects on your daily life.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is observed to affect more females than males. It is believed to be brought on by a combination of genetics, environmental factors, life happenings, psychological factors and even medications. At its worst, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and even suicide itself which is why it is extremely important to tackle it before it causes lasting damage.
Treatments include psychotherapy (including cognitive behaviour therapy) and medication as well as exercise, supplements and other self-help remedies.
Anxiety is another crippling mental health issue that usually teams up with depression to take over your life. It portrays itself in the form of fear, worry and tensed thoughts that don’t seem to go away, coupled with physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, nausea and high blood pressure. While these symptoms are considered quite normal in certain circumstances and in specific proportions, they can be detrimental when not in congruence with reality and when they start to affect your daily life activities.
Therefore, recognising the difference in anxiety that is brought on by a first date, for example, and one that is apparently chronic, unjustifiable and paralysing is critical to assess when treatment must be sought.
The onset of anxiety can result from genetics, life encounters and brain chemistry while its treatment involves psychotherapy, medication and self-help remedies such as exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and taking supplements.
OCD is a mental illness that is not only common but also a chronic and long standing condition that can be described in two parts; ‘Obsessions’ and ‘Compulsions’. Obsessions comprise of thoughts, fears or desires that are hard to let go of whereas compulsions are characterised by the urge to do certain physical actions or engage in mental thoughts repeatedly and/or in a specific pattern that is VERY hard to break. So for example, a person with OCD can be seen washing their hands a million times to get rid of the germs that are more in their head than on their hands. While the fear of germs is an obsession, the need to repeatedly wash their hands is part of the compulsion they feel as a result of their OCD.
Other common forms of OCD involve obsessing over things such as whether or not the door is locked, arranging things in a specific and precise order, having hostile thoughts for others or yourself as well as struggling with improper notions related to sex or torture that a person would be embarrassed to admit to even themselves.
The symptoms of OCD can be recurring and may improve or worsen over time. The risk factors include genetics, brain physiology and functioning and environmental considerations. The disorder is usually treated with a combination of medication, psychotherapy and self-help remedies.
In plain terms, people with psychotic disorders suffer from a distorted view of the world. Their thinking and perceptions are so disfigured that they actually lose touch with what is true and believe what they think to be the reality. The main symptoms of a psychotic disorder are hallucinations and delusions. While hallucinations involve hearing imaginative voices and seeing things that are not there, delusions are false convictions which make a psychotic individual believe, for example, that a friend has a secret agenda to harm them.
A form of a psychotic disorder is Schizophrenia which is considered a brain disorder. People with Schizophrenia are delusional and imagine situations that are far from reality. The fear and emotional disturbance instilled in patients by this disorder makes them pretty much inoperable in their daily lives and may even lead to suicide in extreme circumstances.
The risk factors for psychotic disorders can be genetic, environmental or physiological while treatments involve medication, psychotherapy, self-help remedies and support from friends and family.
Life offers its fair share of trials to everybody which entails that all of us face a tragic event at some point in our lives that can have a lasting impact on us. While some of us recover from the after-effects of such events pretty much unscathed, there are people who are haunted by the ramifications of these events forever.
Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental condition that can develop in the aftermath of a traumatic event such as the death of a close family member or being in a horrible car accident. Patients with PTSD struggle to forget what happened to them and have flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety in relation to their horrible experiences. They can also suffer from insomnia and a surge of negative emotions which can damage their self-esteem.
The symptoms of PTSD can materialise years after an incident had occurred. They can affect your daily life activities and may vary from person to person. Risk factors include experiencing trauma in the recent past or early childhood, a medical and/or family history for having mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and substance abuse. This condition can, however, be treated with the right combination of medicines and therapies.
Personality disorders are characterised by rigid and unhealthy patterns in a person’s behaviour and perspectives that can lead to social isolation as well as cause harm on a more personal level. They drift an individual apart from others in their surroundings owing to their unconventional and inflexible views on various subjects.
Personality disorders act as a secret enemy because oftentimes the person experiencing them does not realise that they suffer from them while undergoing issues both in their personal and professional lives that they deem others responsible for. These disorders can be caused by childhood experiences or backed by genetics and make a person incapable of dealing with a variety of situations and adapting to change.
Some examples of personality disorders include obsessive compulsive personality disorder, bipolar disorders, narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. Such disorders can be treated by psychotherapy, medicine or a combination of both.
These are some of the most common mental health issues that cannot only affect your overall well being but also undermine your daily life activities. At their worst, they are notorious for pushing people over the edge and even causing them to take their lives in an attempt to find solace. However, awareness is one of the strongest weapons you have against them and constitutes the first step towards improvement.
Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of raising consciousness about mental health issues. It might save the life of a loved one and, who knows, maybe even yours!
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