You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst. But it’s there. Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it. I had pretty bad health anxiety that came from the OCD and thought I had a tumor in my brain. I had an MRI, and the neurologist referred me to a psychiatrist. As I get older, the compulsive thoughts and fears have diminished a lot. Knowing that a lot of my fears are not reality-based really helpsTalking about mental health issues is important to create awareness in society about these ills and they are not uncommon and ensure they don’t carry a stigma. Like with any physical ailment, this is nothing to be ashamed of. Too many people self-medicate and abuse alcohol and/or drugs in a bid to make themselves feel better, when all they really had to do was visit a doctor and take some medication. Reading about or listening to mental health patients’ stories can help you identify symptoms in yourself or a loved one and possibly save their life. Just like with physical health conditions, there are a number of mental health ailments, of which the most common ones are listed below, as per National Institute of Mental Health.
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- Depression: This is a common but serious mood disorder, which makes you persistently feel sad, anxious and empty. You might feel hopeless, and have feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness. You’ll also find concentration difficult and have suicidal thoughts. Statistics suggest that India, at 36%, has the highest rate of depression anywhere in the world as well as the highest suicide rate in the world (one lakh per year).
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): This is a condition where the patient has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviours (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. This could be anything from a fear of germs or contamination to ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way to repeatedly checking on things.
- Schizophrenia: A severe mental disorder, it affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Symptoms could include hallucinations, delusions, reduced speaking, and trouble focusing or paying attention. The condition was also highlighted in the Russell Crowe movie, A Beautiful Mind.
- Anxiety: While it’s normal to be anxious occasionally, an anxiety disorder is when the anxiety gets worse over time and starts affecting everyday life, including job performance, school work, and relationships.
- Eating disorders: These include anorexia (extremely restricted eating and extreme thinness), bulimia (forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise) and binge eating (eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, even when you're full or not hungry).
Where You Can Seek HelpIf you feel like you or a loved one may be suffering from a mental illness, contact a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist in your city. You can also get in touch with NGOs such as Born This Way, NIBS India, AASRA and Deepika Padukone’s Live Love Laugh Foundation, all of which have helplines you can call on.
-Like this article? Also read: The Secret To Being Friends With Someone? Swearing At Them Cover Image Courtesy: Youtube Screengrab