Different Types of Mental Health
Over the last few years, mental health has become less of a taboo topic. People have become more comfortable discussing their mental health and how they are dealing with it. However, there is still a lot that we do not understand about mental health.
One common mistake we make is lumping mental illness under one blanket term. There is a wide range of mental illnesses that have different signs, symptoms, and treatments. Mental illnesses are as vast as physical illnesses, and each individual illness has ranged from mild to severe manifestation. This is important to consider when looking for coping mechanisms.
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What is Depression?
Depression, also known as a major depressive disorder, is an extremely common and serious mental illness. It affects the way you think, feel and act in a negative manner.
Depression can cause a sense of deep sadness alone with a loss of interest in your daily life and activities. It can even affect your physical health and impact your ability to function to the vest of your abilities.
The symptoms of depression can vary from person to person ranging from mild to severe in intensity.
An overwhelming sense of sadness or a depressed state of mind, loss of interest or pleasure in previously appreciated activities, appetite changes – weight loss or increase that isn’t connected to dieting, insomnia, or excessive sleeping, decrease in energy levels, and difficulty in concentrating or remembering things are just some of the symptoms of depression.
Depression can strike at any age, although it is most common in late adolescence and early adulthood.
Women are more prone to suffer from depression than males.
According to some research, one-third of women will have a significant depressive episode during their lives.
Studies show a genetic factor to depression, i.e., a child is more likely to have depression if their parent has/had depression compared to someone with no family history.
How to Cope with Depression?
While depression affects many people in their life, it is actually one of the most treatable mental illnesses.
A major portion of patients, from 80%-90%, respond positively to treatment and see an improvement in their symptoms and general well-being.
It is important to consult a doctor regarding mental illness. They will initially carry out tests to rule out an underlying cause for the symptoms of depression (thyroid problems). After an underlying cause has been ruled out, medical and family history is taken as well as considering other factors before deciding on the course of treatment.
Medication: Medication can be given to patients to help them combat their depression. These are formulated to modify their brain chemistry in a way that will benefit them. Anti-depressants are not tranquilizers or sedatives and, in fact, have no effect when used by those who are not dealing with depression.
These medicines may begin working 1-2 weeks into treatment, but maximum benefit is seen after 2-3 months minimum. If the patient faces any adverse effects or feels the medication is not working (after six months), they can be altered by their doctor.
It is usually recommended continuing the use of the medication for six months after improvement of symptoms. For those at high risk of depression, a long-term course is more recommended.
Alternative treatments are psychotherapy with or without medication and electroconvulsive therapy (for severe cases).
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal response that our bodies produce in times of stress and is actually beneficial. However, for those suffering from anxiety disorders, the feeling of anxiousness or fear is excessive and harmful. Anxiety disorders have increased in number in today’s environment. It is a common mental illness that affects almost 30% of adults at some stage in their life.
Anxiety causes muscle tension and behavior of avoidance due to thinking of future matters excessively, while fear is more of an emotional response like that seen in fight or flight situations. Anxiety disorders can cause people to avoid many situations and can affect their relationships, jobs, and education.
Anxiety disorders can be divided into generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder. Women are more likely to experience an anxiety disorder than men.
Generalized anxiety disorder- characterized by persistent and excessive concern that disrupts daily activities. Physical symptoms such as restlessness, feeling on edge or quickly exhausted, difficulty focusing, muscular stiffness, or sleeping issues may accompany this constant stress and anxiety.
Panic Disorder– Recurrent panic episodes, an overpowering combination of physical and psychological anguish, are the most common sign of panic disorder. Some of the symptoms during an attack are palpitations, or rapid heart rate, trembling or shaking, feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint, sweating—chest pain or feeling of shortness of breath.
Anxiety disorders, much like depression, have a genetic factor to them, along with psychological, developmental, and environmental factors.
How to Cope with Anxiety?
It is important that a psychiatrist provides you with the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.
The reason for this is simply to allow them to confirm that there is no other reason behind the symptoms you are experiencing (like heart disease or thyroid problems). Once a diagnosis has been made, then you and your doctor can work to decide the best course of treatment.
Medication can be prescribed to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Widely used medications for anxiety disorders are anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants, and occasionally beta-blockers to reduce physical symptoms of anxiety.
Psychotherapy can be used to help people deal with their anxiety. CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) is a form of talk therapy that can assist a person in developing new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving in order to reduce their feelings of anxiety.
What is OCD?
OCD stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is a disorder that causes people to have unwanted, reoccurring thoughts, sensations (obsessions), or ideas that repeatedly push them to carry out actions (compulsion). These repeated actions can affect their social life and functionality greatly.
Not engaging in the actions creates distress. Many patients with OCD are aware that their obsessions are unrealistic. Others believe they are real (limited insight). People with OCD have trouble disengaging from obsessive thoughts or ceasing compulsive behaviors, even when they are aware that their obsessions are unrealistic.
How to Cope with OCD?
Treatment by a psychiatrist has shown improvement in patients’ daily functioning and in their social life.
1. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
One form of this is exposure and response prevention therapy. The patient is exposed to a situation that causes them to want to carry out a compulsive action but, they are asked to resist. By exposing them to their fears in a controlled setting and showing them that not happened, their fears can be alleviated.
For those with severe form, it can be beneficial to take medication and undergo CBT.
The medication most commonly used in OCD is selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors or SSRIs.
Other treatment options are neurosurgical such as anterior capsulotomy and deep brain stimulation for refractory cases.
These are used in severe cases of OCD in which the patient has not responded to other treatments.
There are a few things that you can do yourself for better mental health that do not even involve a doctor’s supervision or medication.
1. Regular Exercise
It is important that you exercise at least 2-3 times a week. Exercising produces endorphins (happy hormones) and can help in reducing anxiety and depression.
2. Healthy Diet
Eating healthy has just as great an impact on mental health as it does on your physical health.
3. Adequate Sleep
Getting the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep is incredibly important, especially in today’s constant in-the-go culture. Sleep deprivation has been linked to depression.
4. Good Company
Your circle of friends and family should be those who add positivity to your life. People that can offer you care and support and help you when you feel stressed or alone.
5. Stress Control
You should practice ways to minimize or control your stress. It can be anything breathing exercises, reading, listening to music, but you should have mechanisms in place to help you cope with stress.
While it is important to have a routine and stability in life, it is equally important that life does not become boring and monotonous. Try to add small changes from time to time in your routine, and it could be taking a different route on your walk or changing your coffee order—something to brighten up your day.
Mental illnesses are vast and vary in how they affect people. It is important that you get a correct diagnosis about what mental illness you have from a licensed doctor. Different mental illnesses come with different forms of treatment, from the medication used to the therapy options being offered to the patient.
Of course, there are ways in which you can look after your mental health without the need for a doctor. It is important to practice natural methods but also to ask for medical help should you need it.
Thank you for reading and if you do have any questions or comments, please leave below and I’ll be sure to help you out:)