In a world as fast-paced and automatic as the twenty-first century, we sometimes forget to take time to slow down and focus on ourselves. We end up focusing and exerting so much effort on our academics or work that we tend to let ourselves go and forego activities that bring us joy. Although one can argue that we can find happiness in studying or working, taking a break or simply taking a breather is vital for our mental health.
Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and contributes largely to how we handle stress, interact with others, and make choices. It is something that is developed, and should be given importance to, all throughout our childhood, adolescence, and even in adulthood.
Patients struggling with mental health often have a more difficult time managing their overall health. Mental illnesses affect 19% of the adult population, 46% of teenagers and 13% of children each year.
Unfortunately, only half of those affected receive treatment. This is often because of the stigma attached to mental health. Untreated, mental illness can contribute to higher medical expenses, poorer performance at school and work, fewer employment opportunities and increased risk of suicide.
Here is a short list of the different kinds of mental illnesses, as well as a brief description of each:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is common in people of all ages. They can range in severity from mild to debilitating. ADHD is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. There is help available for those who suffer from ADHD, from medications to different kinds of therapy.
People diagnosed with panic disorder experience spontaneous, seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and are very preoccupied with the fear of recurring attacks. More than 18% of adults each year struggle with some type of panic disorder, also called anxiety disorder. Medication is used to temporarily control or reduce the some symptoms of panic disorder. However, it is more effective if paired with therapy and some lifestyle changes.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. There are four basic types of bipolar disorder, and all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Medication and different forms of therapy can also be used to treat bipolar disorders.
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Fortunately, it can be treated through medications and therapies.
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling. Symptoms of schizophrenia usually start between ages 16 and 30. In rare cases, children can have schizophrenia too. Because the causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of the disease.
There is a stigma against people with mental health disorders. Not only is there discrimination found in society, but also from families, friends, and even employers. This does not just affect those with mental illnesses with regards to their personal relationships and work, it can also impede their recovery.
A lot of people are misinformed regarding mental illnesses. The fact that people still use the terms “bipolar,” “abnormal,” and “depressed” as jokes or derogatory terms promote the common misconception people have regarding these illnesses.
Having a community that is accepting and well-informed helps in the recovery of people with mental illnesses. If you or your friends are experiencing any form of mental stress, please reach out to your loved ones. Better yet, seek our a counselor, or a doctor.