Mental Health Awareness Week: Types Of Mental Health Disorders
This week, we are exploring more on a topic that is quite important to everyone, in order to eliminate any stigma that may be attached to it, or any misinformation there might be on the topic.
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, it is estimated that about 13-15% of the global population suffers from some sort of mental or substance use disorder, and even this is an underestimate as mental health disorders still remain significantly under-reported widely. This is particularly true in lower-income countries where not only is the data scarce, there isn’t much focus on the treatment of these disorders due to a number of factors.
Therefore, the data suggest that mental health disorders are quite common. People suffering may be family members, neighbors, bus drivers, colleagues, or close friends.
The World Health Organisation defines Mental Health as a ‘state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Ill mental health can result in changes in behavior, emotion, thinking or energy.
Types of Mental Health Disorders
There are many types of mental health disorders, and the criteria for their diagnoses may often change, so it is important to see your doctor if you are worried about your mental health. Below is a list of some of the common disorders a person can be diagnosed with. This list is not exhaustive of all mental health disorders.
Anxiety is a natural reaction in response to some threat or danger we may experience, and is something we all experience on occasion. However, anxiety becomes problematic when high levels of it occur in regular situations.
People with anxiety tend to get nauseous, restless, palpitations, and in severe cases, avoidance and a sense of fear and panic.
Bipolar disorder is one where a person experiences extreme changes in mood, energy, and thinking over a period of weeks or months. There are different types of Bipolar disorders, but people tend to experience increased distractibility, insomnia, agitation, and grandiosity. Also, not all will experience depression and may go through phases of hypomania.
Depression is described as a feeling of extreme sadness over prolonged periods of time. Diagnosis of depression can be stigmatizing for patients, which can lead to collusion between doctor and patient on consultation. Symptoms of depression include a sense of overwhelming sadness and despair, appetite changes, loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, and in some cases cause physical pain and recurrent thoughts of death and suicide ideation.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a mental disorder that is caused by a traumatic event. Someone suffering from PTSD may experience nightmares, flashbacks and severe anxiety related to the event. Normally, someone who has gone through a traumatic event may experience some difficulties coping or adjusting, but it becomes problematic if there is no recovery with time.
How you can look out for others
There are many ways in which you can help someone who is struggling with a mental health issue, you don’t have to be a professional to help, although sometimes this may be necessary. Sometimes, just talking to someone could create a world of a difference.
Express concern and offer help
Showing someone you’re worried can show the person that you care about them and that you have time for them. If the person suffering from mental illness expresses their worries, it’s good to recognize this and reassure them that you’re there if they need to talk.
Act as you usually would
Just be yourself with the person as you usually would. A change in behavior can make the person feel more isolated and scared to open up about how they’re feeling.
There’s a saying that goes “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” You won’t always know what’s fully going on, and just respect that.
Don’t be judgemental
You may not understand why the person is feeling the way they are, but everyone is going through their own struggle. Respect what they tell you and treat them with respect. Remember, it took a lot of courage for them to even admit they’re going through a hard time in the first place. Be mindful of that!
Don’t force it
Most importantly, if they’re not ready for support, you can explore their reasons for not wanting
How you can look after yourself
Have a routine
Regularity to your day with some sort of structure can make it easier for you to manage your day without having to think much about it. This can be particularly true on bad days.
Treating yourself well can help you on days where your mood or mental health may not be at its best. Perhaps think about giving yourself time to enjoy doing things that make you feel good, whether it’s going to the gym, meeting friends, watching a movie, or playing video games.
Alcohol can affect your mood in a negative way, by making you feel nauseous or in other ways right after consumption, or the morning after by means of a nasty hangover.
Don’t be afraid to seek help
If you find that you are having more bad days than good days, perhaps you need to talk to someone about it. Talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling, who may be able to refer you to your local counseling service.
Your place of work, college, or community center may also have connections to a local counselor which may be of great help.
Resilience, which is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or tribulations, can be quite helpful in managing ill health. Building your resilience can help you manage bad mental days when they come your way.
Don’t feel ashamed to reach out for help. We all fall from time to time and may need a helping hand to pick us back up.
Ola is a medical student at The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI).