When words fail to describe the intensity of the effect mental illness entails on an individual. Therefore, to describe the horrors mental illnesses inflict upon its sufferer, we often find solace in metaphors and images. Imagine a big bad wolf living inside your head all the time whose job is to bring you down all the time. Whenever you feel even remotely happy, it whispers mean things into your ears. Whenever you are about to step outside to see your friends, it makes you doubt their friendship, question their loyalty. Whenever you are about to go to sleep it makes you check the locks over and over again and go over every bad decision you have taken in your life. Some days it does not let you get out of the bed, shower, brush your teeth or hair.
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All around the world, 8 million people die each year due to mental illness.Naysayers of mental health have always based their argument on ‘It’s all in your head’. But, each mental illness translated to physical ailments as well. Anxiety results in palpitations, increased heart rate, and blood pressure as well as excessive sweating and breathlessness.
Whereas, depression results in a serious imbalance in the brain’s chemical structure. These physical ailments often escalate, and these mental Illnesses can be life-threatening as well. Coronary Heart Diseases are a leading cause of death and disability in developing countries like Pakistan.
Individuals who are suffering from mental health issues like stress, panic, and anxiety are at a higher risk of developing coronary heart diseases and cardiac arrest. This is not a guess or hearsay; rather, it is a well-researched fact that “Individuals with high levels of anxiety are at increased risk of coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, fatal ventricular arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death. Anxiety following a major cardiac event can impede recovery and is associated with higher morbidity and mortality.”
Many reasons contribute to mental disorders such as psychological trauma, genetic predisposition, environmental factors etc. On the spectrum, there are two kinds of mental illnesses generally known as
- Psychotic Illnesses
- Neurotic Illnesses
The basic distinction between neurotic and psychotic illnesses is that neurotic illnesses are rooted in reality. Their reasons are mainly based on the environmental factors and genetic predisposition to depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias or panic disorder. Whereas, the sufferers of psychotic illnesses are often at a remove from reality. Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can cause delusions, hallucinations, and other symptoms of psychosis.
There are many ways mental illnesses can be treated such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, psychotherapy, and psychiatric drugs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that has proven to be highly effective over the years. Research states “A highly effective psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on how our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes can affect our feelings and behavior. Traditional CBT treatment usually requires weekly 30- to 60-minute sessions over 12 to 20 weeks.”
Apart from psychotherapy, there are many medicinal and meditative ways to treat the above-mentioned mental illnesses as well. There, however, is a stigma attached to medication and psychiatry drugs as they are rumored to be addictive. But, the research has proven that most of the medications do not pose a risk of addiction. These medications alleviate symptoms and improve your health but there is no craving and the outcome of use is positive.
Summary of World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day is an international day that is celebrated on October 10th. The primary function of this day is to raise awareness and advocacy against the social stigmas related to mental health. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries. Due to the stigma attached to mental health, so many individuals resort to suffering in silence and hesitate from taking health.
For the sake of brevity, we as a community need to take mental health seriously. After all, our brain is what makes and breaks us. It is what defines our entire being. Therefore, struggling individuals need to seek help in whatever form they can. It is absolutely important that you accept every form of help that is offered to you. Together, we can imagine a world where no individual has to suffer at the hands of the monsters living inside their head. This world can only be made possible if all of us promise to be a helping hand towards others. Our compassion and empathy can make this world a better place to live for us and for the generations to come as well.