Mental Health – More than a State of Mind
24 March 2018
Whether you refer to them as mental health issues, mental health problems, conditions, disorders, or mental illnesses – Mental health issues remain as some of the most misunderstood, challenging disorders which affect the human race.
Mental health problems, or mental illnesses, affect both male and females and can be indiscriminate, unpredictable and devastating, not only to the sufferers but also to that person’s immediate family, friends and co-workers. Such problems can appear in a myriad of forms, such as depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, mental breakdowns, debilitating panic attacks, and many others; and can either appear and disappear quickly, or they may come and go throughout a person’s life. Or maybe they linger and linger, sometimes with mental highs and lows affecting the person’s ability to think, their behaviour and attitude and, hence, the opportunity to live a normal life. Yet, worst of all, they may lead to suicide as the sufferer does not want to, or feels they cannot, tell others or deal with the problems they face. Which of course causes untold grief for family, friends, and the wider community.
Such mental illnesses can include but of course are not limited to, things like: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, dissociative disorders (multiple personality disorders), post-traumatic stress disorder, pre- and post-natal depression, schizophrenia.. The list, unfortunately, goes on.
Sometimes, problems with mental health can be triggered by a major occurrence such as life events ie a death in the family, sudden monetary woes, a job loss when the chances of getting a new job are slight or even by other people bullying or intimidating an individual (especially during the highly fraught teenage years when angst amongst teens is its peak). Actually, at any age, bullying and/or intimidation by others can be a significant factor in the development of mental health problems. People who bully others, in the workplace, school or study environment, or any other area of life, don’t understand the damage they can cause to people’s lives.
At other times, the cause of mental health problems can be completely random, and unpredictable. While some mental health issues may be caused or induced by environmental factors, and life circumstances; some mental health issues can be a result of genetic predispositions. As well as that, often times mental health issues can have no determinable cause at all! They can affect anyone, for no reason. Sometimes caused by a simple and random imbalance of natural chemicals in the brain… Mental health issues can have a physiological cause – and are more than a state of mind.
Sometimes this imbalance can be rectified with medication, at other times it can be a bit more tricky. Sometimes a mental health issue can be rectified with relaxation techniques, meditation, and exercise; though for a lot of mental health issues, medication is necessary, and can keep mental health in check! So it’s important to see your doctor, rather than self-diagnose.
As the diagnosis or root cause of most mental illnesses cannot always be readily identified, finding the right treatment is ocassionally extremely challenging and, when treatment is instigated, it may be of lengthy duration with initially, no discernible signs of improvement. What works for some people does not work for others and, in many cases, relatively minor events or setbacks can precipitate a major downturn in a person’s well-being or their progress towards recovery.
Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about mental illnesses is that they only affect poor or relatively unsuccessful people; that people who excel in their chosen profession and have achieved a comfortable monetary status are immune to such problems. However, the opposite is often true and there and are a number of high profile sports, entertainment or business people who have enjoyed great careers in the limelight, who are now coming out and making other people aware that they too are suffering or have suffered from mental health problems.
In some cases, they may have played professional sports, or been a famous actor/actress or entertainer, CEO or company president. Sometimes the mental issues have been brought on due to the pressures of their chosen sport; the expectations or overwhelming adulation of their fans or audience; or the demands of business clients. In other words, stress induced, whilst the person in question was playing, performing or working. Or, as in many cases, where a career is over and the attention, limelight or fame is no longer there, many people withdraw into them themselves, dwell on the past and mental health issues surface.
While we do live in a fast-paced world these days, where no matter what keeps you busy in life, there can be many causes of stress – Feelings of pressure being placed on us, work deadlines, relationship issues, and all kinds of things that could cause us to be anxious…. One of the important things to know about mental health issues is that they are not always a result of our way of life, or environmental factors. They are not always a result of stresses, life circumstances, or unfortunate events. One of the important things to know about mental health issues is that they can affect any one of us. You, me, your family, your friends, your co-workers… It can happen to anyone.
And for no reason at all.
Someone can be happy and content with where they are in life one day, and suddenly, almost overnight, start to feel depression, anxiety, and/or other symptoms. It is important to know, like I said, that depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses can happen to anyone, and for no reason at all… And if you do suffer from a mental health problem, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
Mental health issues, especially depression and anxiety, are quite common, and you should not be ashamed to admit that you are suffering.
What to do if you feel as though your mental health isn’t what it used to be, or isn’t what you feel it should be – Talk to someone, This is the most important first step. Mental illnesses can be an invisible disease. While some people who are suffering from a mental illness can show a change in behaviour, social withdrawal, or other noticable personality changes, often times people can show no symptoms at all. They can feel down, and have all kinds of self-hurtful and unwanted thoughts going through their head, without anyone else knowing.
Don’t suffer alone. Talk to a trusted family member or friend. Talk to your GP. Talk to a counsellor or psychologist. Just talk to someone. As this is the first step to helping to make you feel better.
Fortunately, nowadays, there is a far greater understanding and empathy towards people with mental health issues. There is also greater awareness that being affected by such issues is something which can be addressed positively and sufferers can be helped by appropriate remedial or therapeutic measures or medication as the cases may warrant. And less stigma towards people who are suffering from mental health conditions.
So the next time you come across someone struggling with mental issues, try not to be judgemental. Try and see if there is anything you can do to give them support or help them recover; after all, any act of kindness and compassion goes a long way!