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Body and mind are two important factors that have great impact on overall health of a person. Healthy mind is equally important as healthy body. Just like exercise and balanced diet are essential for physical fitness, mental health awareness is important to keep our mind healthy.
People across the globe are working hard to create awareness regarding mental health. World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) started the trend of celebrating Mental Health Day on 10th October in 1992. Dr. Alberto Trimboli, President of WFMH announced “suicide prevention” will be the main theme on Mental Health Day this year.
Mental Health discussion is still a stigma in Pakistan. People don’t talk about mental health openly.
Mental health issues are there since the evolution of mankind. It will be hard to find a person with perfect mental health in 21st century. Incidents occurring since past few decades have raised the importance of this issue on global scale.
Unlike many foreign countries, people in Pakistan are not willing to talk about their mental health openly. Only term majority people associate with any mental issues is “pagal” (insane). People are not aware of the difference between mental illnesses and mental disorders. Also, any person suffering from some mental issue feels hesitant to visit psychiatrist or psychologist just because of social pressure. He/she does not want to live rest his/her life with the label of insane.
There is a slight difference between mental illness and mental disorder.
Mental illness is just like any other physical illness such as diabetes, blood pressure, fever or heart problem. When an individual start behaving different in terms of mood, emotions and social dealings for more than a week must not be ignored. It indicates, a person is going through some psychological stress leading towards a mental illness. Mental illness is curable. Mental illness that remains untreated turns into mental disorder. Some of these disorders are minor whereas, some are severe.
Causes of Mental Illness
When a child is in the womb of mother, it absorbs every single message and signal from the circumstances mother is going through. That’s why it is suggested to keep pregnant ladies happy and away from any kind of stress and depression. Mental health of mother can affect mental health of unborn baby.
Brain chemistry matters. Mental illness can occur due to chemical imbalance in brain.
Mental illness can be inherited. If any of your blood relative has this issue, probability of inheriting it increases.
Any unusual incident in life also increases the risk of developing a mental illness. Such incidents include: negligence in childhood, some traumatic experience, death of a loved one, becoming drug addict, facing bad luck in relationships.
Economic issues such as unemployment and financial crisis can increase the risk of developing mental illness.
Signs of Mental Illness
- Feeling sad and finding it difficult to overcome sadness.
- Going through a roller coaster of mood swings. Feeling happy and enthusiastic at a moment and then suddenly all of it disappears.
- Ability to concentrate on work is reduced. Lack of focus can result in delay of work.
- Change in sleeping patterns. Finding it difficult to fall asleep or get up after sleeping.
- Difficulty in handling stressful situations.
- Lack of interest in work.
- Feeling confused while or after making decisions.
- Inability to understand what a person is saying because your mind is constantly somewhere else.
- Feeling low all the time.
- Sex drive changes.
- Becoming aggressive and violent on petty issues.
- Excessive alcohol or drug use.
- Living in your own world of illusion. Finding it difficult to accept real world.
- Avoiding friends and gatherings. Isolation from social activities.
- Gaining or losing significant weight.
- Change in eating habits. Either over-eating or not feeling hungry at all.
- Thinking about committing suicide.
- Self-harming physically.
Untreated mental illness turns into a mental disorder. Convincing a mental disorder patient for medical treatment is difficult.
People assume that depression is just feeling down. If a person feels down for a couple of days that’s fine. If this pattern continues for longer period, then this is not fine because depression is more than just feeling down. It can become extremely dangerous if remain untreated. It can act as a foundation for building some serious mental disorder.
Bipolar disorder was previously called manic depression. Person suffering from it goes through severe mood swings. Women are more likely to suffer from this mental disorder than men. Depending on the stage bipolar disorder can be treated through behavioral therapy and medication.
Person’s anxious nature and overthinking are crime partners in creating anxiety disorder. Assuming outcomes of any certain situation in advance a person creates those problems that are yet not arrived. Patients of anxiety disorder suffers through panic attacks, fears and various phobias.
Symptoms of schizophrenia includes: unclear speech, reduced motivation, imbalance thinking patterns and inability to relate fantasy world with reality. Long term medication is required for its treatment.
In eating disorder a person develops irregular and unbalanced eating patterns. It has negative effects on health. People idealize some certain body image and they are never satisfied with whatever they do to attain it.
Going through some unusual or terrifying event can cause post traumatic stress disorder. These incidents include: sexual assault, bomb blast, traffic accident or any similar incident. Person finds it difficult to overcome fear linked to that incident. It can be treated through medicines and therapy sessions.
People with obsessive compulsive disorder go through a mental condition which seems normal but it isn’t. This disorder is not dangerous but annoying. Patients want everything well organized. They also suffer from fear of germs and contamination. They can’t stop themselves from doing what is disturbing them.
Mental health is important not just for our well-being but others also. You have power to control your mind and if you are facing difficulty in it, don’t feel shy to seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist. One step at right time can change your mental illness into mental wellness.
Maida Khan has done Masters in Mass Communication from NUST. She is a part-time lecturer teaching TV Production courses.
Writing is her hobby, and she is a vocal activist.