Mental health! What is mental health?

“There is no health, without mental health.”

World Health organization has said that

Defining Mental health | Understanding the biology of mental illness | understanding brain function | Some common types of mental illness | Signs of mental illness | Treatment for mental disorders | Medicine for mental illness | Self care in mental illness

According to U.S department of health and human services.

” Mental health refer to a person’s emotional, social and psychological well-being.”

The absence of mental illness, does not necessarily mean that someone is mentally healthy.

Being mentally healthy is about having a sense of purpose, getting involved with yourself, forming close relationships, and being in touch with your own thoughts and emotions.

Mental Health to me is taking care of myself, getting enough sleep. Staying stress free, having a good time,
being at my best self and feeling good
most of the time and having energy and being able to enjoy each moment.

Being able to communicate my needs to others, and hear what they have to say in an empathic way.

In the United States, the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimate that almost 1 in 5 adults experience mental health problems each year.

In 2017, an estimated 11.2 million adults in the U.S., about 4.5% of adults, had a severe psychological condition. . . National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Understanding the biology of mental illness :

What exactly is a mental illness? The term clearly indicates that there’s a problem with the brain. But is it just the brain in an abstract sense? Or is there a physical basis to mental illness? We will figure it in this article.

As scientists continue to investigate mental illnesses and their causes, they learn more about how the biological processes that make the brain work or changed when a person has mental illness.

In order to understand what a mental illness is, we must first understand the brain and how does it works.

As we know that the brain is our most complex organ. It is often known as a person’s Control Center, because it controls all the functions of our bodies.

Neurons are the cells in brain, that are important for  brain function.

A neuron is a specialized cell that can produce different actions as a result of its predictive connections with other neurons, muscle cells and sensory receptors.

Our brain consist of the specialized networks of neurons which control things like movement and vision, and also very complex and highly integrated networks of neurons which control every single aspect of the brains function.

These neurons uses both electrical signals and chemical messages to communicate to each other.

Now the next question is, what does the brain do?

The brain has many different functions which are categorized into six components .

Thinking or cognition :

Understanding through process of experience.

Perception and thinking :

How the brain sees the world.

Emotions :

Ability to feel and expressing feeling to others.

Signaling :

This is how the brain becomes responsive to and reacts to the environment around it.

Physical function :

The brain actually controls much of the physical sensations we have in our bodies. The physical functions the brain controls include the nervous system, circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, genital urinary system, and the musculoskeletal system. So you can tell that the brain is pretty much in control of everything your body does.

Behavioral :

The sixth and last function of the brain is behavior. Everything that we do, all of our behavior is controlled by the brain. Our behavior is dependent on all the other things the brain does.

It is important to understand that most functions of the brain are interrelated. Because of the way the brain is constructed.

If something happens in one part of the brain, it often will show up in one or more other parts. For example, if you’re feeling sad, it can affect your mood, physical state and behavior. You can think negative thoughts and avoid being around your friends.

Causes or factors of mental illness :

Every person has some risk of developing a mental health disorder, irrespective of their age, sex, income, or ethnicity.

In much of the developed world, mental disorders are one of the leading causes of disability.

A majority of people with a mental health disorder have more than one condition at a time.

It should be noted that good mental health depends on a very delicate balance of factors and various elements of life and the world at large can work together to contribute to disorders.

Below listed factors may contribute to mental health disruptions :

Often it is not possible to ping point one specific reason for a person to develop mental disorder, in most of the cases various causes are identified and it is multifactorial,

Some people are more vulnerable than others for different reasons.

Genetic factor :

The first and foremost factor is genes. We all have two different types of genes –
good genes, bad genes.

All types of genes are transmitted from one generation to the other. And therefore, one can inherit those genes from their parents. Now, genes are not only responsible for things like our body color, hair color e.t.c.

But they also have a tendency to pass illnesses, physical illnesses and mental illnesses from one generation to the other.

So people having mental illness often have a family history, their parents, grandparents, and cousins, may have some form of mental illness.

It is sad that they have inherited. These faulty genes from their previous generations, and now they are expressed, leading to some form of mental health difficulties.

The next important factor is

Chemical imbalance :

Now, a lot of research have been done throughout the world, identifying the cause for different types of mental disorders.

And now we know that chemical imbalance plays an important role in the development of various psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia,bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, and anxiety disorders.

Chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, played a significant role. And when there’s chemical imbalance in the brain, these can lead to different types of mental disorders.

The third important factor is

Life events :

Negative life events, and stressful life events such as relationship breakdown or financial worries, all these can have significant negative impact on person Psychology and therefore can cause mental disorders.

Similarly, traumatic events like flood fire, earthquakes can also affect the psychological health of the people and it can affect their mental state and can lead to mental health disorders in the long term.

Next important factor is

Hidden feelings :

Feelings are an important aspect of mental health. It is important to express Feelings appropriately and don’t suppress them. A lot of people tend to suppress the feelings and this can affect their psychological health.

The other important factor is

Difficult upbringing and family background :

  • Harsh and strict time.
  • Overprotective parents.
  • Childhood neglect and abuse in the form of physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.

All these affect the psychological health of people, and in the long term can lead to psychiatric problems.

The next important factor is

Use of alcohol and recreational drugs :

Alcohol and recreational drugs like cannabis, cocaine e.t.c. have a huge effect on mental health. Person get hooked on to drinking alcohol and taking recreational drugs and become addictive to it.

Excess use of which not only impact  the physical health. But the psychological health will be affected, leading to psychiatric problems and Total health loss.

Sometimes medical drugs can also cause psychiatric problems. For example, if you take steroids, corticosteroid in the long term, it can either make you feel low in mood and become depressed or sometimes you can become overexcited and manic.

So there are some medications which can also precipitate in mental problems so it is very much Important to consult  with the doctors before you take medications.

As we know, our body and mind are interconnected. So if there is a problem in our body, it can also affect the mind.

So when people have physical disorders for example more than 50 to 60% of patients who have long term diabetes can develop psychotic problems. Like depression. Other important medical disorders that can cause psychiatric problems and heart diseases or even Cancer.

Another important factor is

Head injury :

People suffer from road accidents and other forms of accidents, and sustaining significant head injury. People having traumatic brain injury, can develop personality deterioration in the long term. And also develop different types of psychiatric problems.

The next important vulnerability factor is

Pregnancy and childbirth :

If mother suffers from some illness, during the pregnancy period. It is a risk factor. If there are complications for mother and the child around the time of delivery. That is also a risk factor, premature births in the child.

All these can lead to developmental disorders in childhood and mental retardation and long term psychiatric problems.

The next important factor is

Being socialble :

Research have shown that people who have less friends or the people who have less healthy relationships are more prone to develop mental distress and mental health problems in the future. But if you have a highly sociable life and good coping skills, then you’re less likely to develop any mental illness in the long run.

Some common types of mental illness :

Many people with serious mental illness are challenged doubly. On one hand, they struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from the disease. On the other, they are challenged by the stereotypes and prejudice.[1]

Common Mental illness are

Phobia :

Phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a strong irrational fear of something that causes little or no real danger.

There are many specific phobias suchas phobia of heights ,fear of public places claustrophobia is a fear of closed  places and many more.

Panic disorder :

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It causes panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of terror when there is no real danger. One may feel like they are losing control. There may be physical symptoms, for example. Fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, trembling etc.

Eating Disorders (ED) :

Eating Disorders describes illnesses characterized by irregular eating habits and intense anxiety or concern about weight or body shape.

This may include inadequate or excessive consumption of food that may ultimately damage an individual’s well-being. The most common forms of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder.

Anxiety disorders :

People with anxiety disorder have severe fears or anxieties associated, or feeling of worry with certain objects or situations.

Most people with anxiety disorders try to avoid exposure of some concern.

Schizophrenia disorders :

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder, in which people will interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia  cause hallucinations, delusions, and some combination of abnormal disturbances in thinking and behavior, which can impair daily functioning and can be disabling.

It has negative and positive symptoms. Positive symptoms include delusions, thought disorders, and hallucinations. Negative symptoms include withdrawal, lack of motivation, and a flat or inappropriate mood.

People with schizophrenia needs lifelong treatment. Early treatment may help control symptoms before serious complications occur, and may help improve long-term prospects.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) :

We all gets anxious many times, but if our worries and fears are so constant that they interfere with your ability to function and relax, then we may have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It consist of common anxiety disorder that involves constant and chronic worrying.

GAD is less intense than panic attack, but much longer lasting, making normal life difficult and relaxation impossible. It drains your energy, effect sleep, and affect the whole body.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) :

People suffering from OCD have obsessions and compulsions. In other words you can say that they experience constant, stressful thoughts and a powerful urge to perform repetitive acts, such as hand washing.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a constant unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to compulsive behaviours.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) :

As the name suggest it is developed in person who had experienced a shock,  scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it further.

In this situation the person thinks that their life or other people’s lives are in danger and feel afraid or that they have no control over things that’s happening.

These were few examples of mental illnesses. The list goes on..

Signs of mental illness :

Signs and symptoms of mental illness helps in diagnosing  mental disorders.
Although there is no physical test or scan that reliably indicates whether a person has developed a mental illness or not . However, we should look out for the possible and specific signs and symptoms of every mental disorder.

Some of the common and early signs of mental disorders are :

  • Reduced concentration and memory.
  • Getting irritated and angry.
  • Avoid certain situations.
  • Feeling sad, anxious, guilty, angry helpless.
  • Having low self esteem.
  • Self criticism and blame.
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Loss of interest in appearance.
  • Avoiding personal hygiene.
  • Tendency to believe that others see them in a negative light.

Treatment for mental disorders :

Treating a mental disorder is highly individual, and what works for one person may not work for other.
There are various methods for managing mental health problems.

The person needs to work coordinately with a doctor who can help them identify their needs and provide them suitable treatment.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and primary care physicians provide this type of treatment.

Treatment consist of psychological approach, behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy e.t.c.

Medicine for mental illness :

Medications in mental disorder, work by boosting the body’s absorption of feel-good chemical( serotonin), from the brain. Some drugs boost the overall levels of these chemicals or prevent their degradation .

Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytic drugs are prescribed medications for mental disorder.

Although these cannot cure mental disorders, they only improve symptoms and help a person to resume social interaction and a normal routine.

Self care in mental illness :

A person dealing with mental health problems, will usually need to make some lifestyle changes.

Changes as avoiding alcohol and drug, sleeping more, eating a proper balanced and nutritious diet.

Practicing some Relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, meditation, doing yoga. Will definitely boost the immune system which will boost the process of healing.

Taking help friends and family, can also be essential to recovery from mental illness.Understanding The impact of stigma on people with mental illness    

“Good mental health is related to mental and psychological well-being.”

World health organization

Understanding The impact of stigma on people with mental illness :

Public stigma is the reaction that the general population has to people with mental illness. Self-stigma is the prejudice which people with mental illness turn against themselves.