Last updated date: 07-Oct-2021
Originally Written in English
Importance of mental health
A mental illness, also called mental health disorder, is a physical illness of the brain that causes disturbances in thinking, behavior, energy, or emotion that make it difficult to cope with the ordinary rigors of life. Research is revealing that the common causes of these diseases which can include genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, experiencing trauma and/or having another medical issue such as heart disease. In these challenging times of Covid-19 and its consequences, we must try to pay special attention to our mental health as isolation and economic fallouts are factors that can contribute to mental illness everywhere.
Two of the most common mental health conditions are:
About one out of five adults each year struggle with some type of anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder (panic attacks), generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobias.
Mood disorders such as depression and bipolar depression, affect nearly one out of ten adults each year and are characterized by difficulties in regulating one’s mood.
In addition to the two mentioned above, the additional types of mental illnesses are personality disorders, psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia), eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating), trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder or “PTSD”), and substance abuse disorders.
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of mental illness may vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances, and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling depressed
- Confusion or reduced ability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood swings
- Withdrawal from social activities and friends
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with normal daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Substance abuse (alcohol or drug use)
- Major changes in eating habits
- Libido changes
- Excessive anger, hostility, or violence
- Suicidal thinking
Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained aches and pains. If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness, see your doctor or a mental health professional. Most mental illnesses do not improve on their own, and if left untreated, a mental illness may get worse over time and cause serious problems.
Certain factors may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, including:
- A history of mental illness in a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling
- Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one's death, or a divorce
- An ongoing (chronic) medical condition, such as diabetes
- Brain damage as a result of a serious injury (traumatic brain injury), such as a violent blow to the head
- Traumatic experiences, such as military combat or assault
- Use of alcohol or recreational drugs
- A childhood history of abuse or neglect
- Few friends or few healthy relationships
- A previous mental illness
Mental illness is quite common. About one in five adults has a mental illness in any given time. Mental illness can begin at any age, from childhood through later adult years, but most cases begin earlier in life. The effects of mental illness can be temporary or long lasting. You also can have more than one mental health disorder at the same time. For example, you may have depression and a substance use disorder.
Mental illness is a major cause of disability. Untreated mental illness can cause severe emotional, behavioral, and physical health problems. Complications sometimes linked to mental illness include:
- Unhappiness and decreased enjoyment of life
- Family conflicts
- Relationship difficulties
- Social isolation
- Problems with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs
- Missed work or school, or other problems related to work or school
- Legal and financial problems
- Poverty and homelessness
- Self-harm and harm to others, including suicide or homicide
- Weakened immune system, so your body has a hard time resisting infection
- Heart disease and other medical conditions
While there is no perfect way to prevent mental illness, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and to boost low self-esteem may help keep your symptoms under control. Follow these steps to prevent or control mental illness from developing into more serious conditions:
Attention to warning signs.
Work with your doctor or therapist to learn what might trigger your symptoms. Plan ahead so that you know what to do if symptoms return. Contact your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes in symptoms or how you feel. Consider involving family members or friends you trust to watch for warning signs.
Routine medical care.
Do not neglect checkups or skip visits to your doctor, especially if you are not feeling well. You may have a new health problem that needs to be treated, or you may be experiencing side effects of medication.
Mental health conditions can be harder to treat if you wait until symptoms worsen. Long-term maintenance treatment also may help prevent a relapse of symptoms.
Take good care of yourself.
Sufficient sleep, healthy eating, and regular physical activity are important. Try to maintain a regular schedule. Talk to your doctor if you have trouble sleeping or if you have questions about diet and physical activity.
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