In this article, we want to emphasise the importance of looking after your mental health, at increasing your chances of enjoying life. The ultimate aim is to help you achieve psychological resilience while trying to strike a balance between life activities, responsibilities, and challenges.
To achieve our aim, first, we will explain what mental health and mental illness mean. Then, we will describe the most common types of mental disorders. And finally, discuss early signs and treatments options. Other than the term “mental health” referring to the absence of a mental disorder. It also refers to how people think, feel, and behave. That is cognitive, emotional, and behavioral wellness.
Paradoxically, as much as mental health disruption can negatively impact daily living, factors in daily living can likewise contribute to mental health disruption. Conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine. Although the term mental health is in common use, many conditions that doctors recognize as psychological disorders have physical roots.
What is mental health?
According to the WHO “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes 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.”
From this definition, one can tell mental health is encompassing as it is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. it is an active situation as well as continuous.
Risk factors for mental health conditions
The fact that mental disorders are one of the leading causes of disability in developed countries is an indication that everyone has some risk of developing a mental health disorder, no matter their age, sex, income, or ethnicity. A large proportion of people with a mental health disorder have more than one condition at a time. And contributing to shaping their mental health are social and financial circumstances, biological factors, and lifestyle choices.
The following factors may contribute to mental health disruptions:
- Continuous social and economic pressure – Having limited financial means or belonging to a marginalized or persecuted ethnic group can increase the risk of mental health disorders. Researchers found that being female increased the risk of low mental health status by 3.96 times. People with a “weak economic status” also scored highest for mental health conditions in this study.
- Biological factors – Certain genes and gene variants put a person at higher risk. But having a gene with links to a mental health disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia, does not guarantee that a condition will develop. Likewise, people without related genes or a family history of mental illness can still have mental health issues due to other factors which may include, life-changing physical health problems, such as cancer, diabetes, and chronic pain.
Common mental health disorders
The most common types of mental illness are as follows:
1. Anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness. People with these conditions have severe fear or anxiety, which relates to certain objects or situations. Most people with an anxiety disorder will try to avoid exposure to whatever triggers their anxiety.
Examples of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
2. Mood disorders
People may also refer to mood disorders as affective disorders or depressive disorders. People with these conditions have significant changes in mood, generally involving either mania, which is a period of high energy and elation, or depression.
Examples of mood disorders include:
- Major depression
- Bipolar disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
3. Schizophrenia disorders
It is a highly complex condition. Signs include thoughts that appear fragmented, and difficulties processing information. Schizophrenia has negative and positive symptoms. Positive symptoms include delusions, thought disorders, and hallucinations. Negative symptoms include withdrawal, lack of motivation, and a flat or inappropriate mood.
Physical tests or scans for mental illness are medically unavailable. Possible signs of a mental health disorder include:
- withdrawing from friends, family, and colleagues
- avoiding activities that they would normally enjoy
- sleeping too much or too little
- eating too much or too little
- feeling hopeless
- having consistently low energy
- using mood-altering substances, including alcohol and nicotine, more frequently
- displaying negative emotions
- being confused
- being unable to complete daily tasks, such as getting to work or cooking a meal
- having persistent thoughts or memories that reappear regularly
- thinking of causing physical harm to themselves or others
- hearing voices
- experiencing delusions
There are various methods for managing mental health problems. Treatment is highly personalized because what works for one person may not work for another. The individual needs to work closely with a doctor who can help them identify their needs and provide them with suitable treatment.
Treatments can include:
- Psychotherapy, or talking therapies – Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and some primary care physicians undertake this psychological approach to treating mental illness. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy are examples.
- Medication – Prescribed medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytic drugs can help improve symptoms and help a person resume social interaction and a normal routine while they work on their mental health.
- Self-help – In conclusion, a person coping with mental health difficulties will usually need to make changes to their lifestyle to facilitate wellness. Changes like reducing alcohol intake, sleeping more, eating a balanced, nutritious diet taking time away from work, and other situations that may be causing damage to their mental health. Practicing relaxation techniques is also beneficial for people with conditions such as anxiety or depressive disorder. Among such techniques include deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness.
And lastly, having a support network, whether via self-help groups or close friends and family, can also be essential to recovery from mental illness.