Mental health is not an uncommon term as it was a few decades ago. As stress and anxiety have become a part of the modern lifestyle, this term is used quite often. But, what does mental health actually mean? According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
Mental health, in general, encompasses your psychological, emotional, and social well-being. It controls how we think, feel, act, manage stress, react to situations, make choices, and relate to others. For sound mental health, you need to have a fine balance between your expectations, responsibilities, activities, and current situation. Poor mental health can have a detrimental impact on your life as it affects your thinking, behaviour, and mood. There can be several factors behind that such as genetics, a major setback, trauma, etc. Poor mental health can affect your day-to-day functioning, your relationships, carrier, and even physical health.
Here, let us look at some common mental health issues:
This is among the most common types of mental health disorders. If suffering from an anxiety disorder, the person has anxiety or fear regarding a particular object or situation. Those suffering from it try to avoid whatever triggers anxiety in them. If left untreated, an anxiety disorder can refrain the person to function normally. It has different forms:
Earlier termed as ‘manic depression’, in bipolar disorder, a person goes through episodes of elation and depression. Although its exact cause is currently unknown, genetic predisposition is believed to act into it, and so do environmental triggers.
Quite a common mental health issue, depression is a mood disorder in which a person constantly has a low mood. Those suffering from depression lose interest in activities they earlier enjoyed, have low energy, and can have sleeping troubles. Depression has numerous symptoms, and its severity differs from person to person, from mild depression to even suicidal thoughs.
In this, the person’s relationship with food gets distorted. Anorexia, bulimia, emotional eating, are some examples of the eating disorder.
When suffering from paranoia, the person gets highly suspicious of others and has an irrational fear that others are out to get him/her. This can also be a symptom of other mental health issues such as paranoid personality disorder, schizophrenia, and delusional disorder.
In this, people lose touch with reality and sees, hears, and feels things that are not real. They suffer from delusion, hallucination, and have confused thinking. Often, it’s a symptom of another disorder and is not a disease in itself. Mental health issues that can cause psychosis include mood disorders and schizophrenia. It can also result from substance abuse.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental health issue in which a person’s perception of the reality gets distorted. Symptoms include delusion, hallucination, impaired thinking, poor memory, social withdrawal, and trouble processing information. Those suffering from schizophrenia have a risk of suicide.
Since mental health illnesses don’t display physical signs in general. Hence, people should observe the following signs and symptoms to know if they or someone around them is suffering/struggling with a mental health problem:
According to the US Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), there is no single cause behind mental health illnesses. There are risk factors that can increase your vulnerability to developing mental health issues. Some of the factors are:
When it comes to mental health illnesses, the treatment options are numerous. However, they primarily depend on the type of illness, its severity, and what works for you. Sometimes, a combination of treatment options works best. Let us look at some of the treatment options:
Psychotherapy is the talk therapy in which you speak about your mental health illness to a medical professional, who helps you understand the root cause of your illness. In this, you focus on your issue, mood, behaviour, triggers, and the increased self-awareness helps you cope better. The expert also helps you focus on healthful thoughts. Also, as you pour your heart out, it protects you from loneliness, isolation, and inflicting self-harm.
Depending on your illness, your doctor might prescribe you some medicines. Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, mood stabilisers, and anti-psychotic medication are quite common. But, do note that these do not cure the illness. They improve the symptoms, such as you might be able to increase your social engagement or sleep better. This gives you the space to deal with your underlying issue.
When the disease gets very severe, in that case, you might need to be admitted to a psychiatric institution. This generally happens when you are no longer able to take care of yourself, can inflict self-harm, or can harm others.
Whatever the form of treatment may be, you need to take time off to care for yourself. Your lifestyle plays a crucial part when it comes to mental health issues. Hence, make requisite lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep, getting exercise, having a balanced diet, and reducing alcohol intake. Relaxation techniques, such as Yoga, deep breathing, and meditation also work well for people struggling with such issues. Also, joining a self-care group, or having a close group of friends before whom you can pour your heart out also helps you better cope with distress.
Good mental health helps you to sail through life. It allows you to achieve your full potential, cope with stressful situations better, make better decisions, do good at work, contribute to society. It overall adds quality to your life and makes it more meaningful. If you are looking for some quick tips for good mental health, here are some of them:
This appears as a long list, but in reality, these are just small adjustments that you need to make in your everyday life. The prize: Mental well-being.