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Dealing with mental health: Ignorance is not always a Bliss!

By Medha Chawla

May 09, 2017

We see a doctor when we get hurt by slipping from stairs or when our body aches or if we feel feverish. In other words, physical damages to our body attract a lot of consideration from us. We also schedule body check-ups to ensure we are leading a healthy life. But how often do we visit a psychologist or fix an appointment for a mental-health check-up. Who goes for a mental health check-up after all? Moreover, the answer to this is, most of us do not even consider this vital enough!

Physical health v/s emotional health While we are taught to openly discuss and share our physical pain, emotional sufferings are meant to be enclosed within our selves. Owing to this thinking, most of us lead unhappy and gloomy lives, and carry the burden of our mental sufferings.

Even though we bear heart-wrenching pains and endure a lonely feeling for several weeks and months, going to a psychologist never crosses our mind. After all, psychologists are pagalon ke doctors. Hail the Indian society for developing this stigma and carrying it ahead since time immemorial. This stigma, inherited from previous generations is unfortunately still prevalent. As a result, more than 50 per cent cases of mental illness go unreported. Consequently, India is featured among the countries that witness maximum number of suicides. And those who fail to carry the heavy and painful baggage of emotional burden and refrain to consult a therapist, end their lives by committing suicide. In 2014, India was the most depressed nation with the highest number of suicides, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Mental disorders

Unaware of terms like ‘mental health’ and ‘mental disorders’, many of us fail to recognise that we are suffering from an illness and keep getting trapped in the big hole of sadness and anxiety that may eventually turn into severe depression and can ultimately take one’s life too.

Nimesh Desai, director of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) explains, “Mental disorders can be divided into two broad groups – severe mental disorder, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and common mental disorder (CMD) such as depression, anxiety and others. Across time, history, cultures and countries, the percentage of prevalence of severe mental disorders do not differ too much.

This is because these are predominantly genetically caused. But the percentage prevalence of CMD will vary depending on the psychological atmosphere and social milieu. Broken homes, professional and relationship-related stress are some of the factors that contribute to a rise in the prevalence of CMD”.

Mental disorder signs

The origin or reasons to develop mental illness may vary for person to person. Here are a few common signs that suggest you need to visit a psychologist or a therapist. The earlier you identify the need for a professional medical help, the faster and more easily will you recover and be able to enjoy life to the core.

You no are longer enjoy previously beloved activities: Your hobbies, friends and family get-togethers and other activities which you earlier enjoyed, do not give you a joyous feeling anymore.

You find life meaningless: You feel disillusioned and lost. You believe there is not much purpose left in your life. You at times think to end your life and questions like, “Why am I alive?”, “Why is life so necessary to live?” keep your mind hooked.

You are struggling hard with relationships: Be it with your friends or family or your partner, are you constantly struggling to maintain them the right way? At this point of time, you might find it hard to express and communicate your heart out and feel unhappy even during interactions with your loved ones. Well, it can be something running within your mind, you are maybe not able to recognise, which is leading to constant fallouts with your dear ones. Visiting a medical professional will surely help rectify it.

You are not able to overcome a traumatic incident: Incidents like the death of a loved one, marriage failure, break-up or job loss can be enough reason to make you need a bit of counselling. If it has been quite a long time and you still find yourself constantly thinking about the incident, maybe you need some professional help. Forget the fear that they will treat you as an abnormal, they will listen to your heart and observe your behaviour, daily habits and body language.

You are using a substance to overcome: If all is not well, people often start drinking and using drugs in higher amounts. The substance can be food too. You might find yourself over-eating or not eating at all. Whichever be the case, the issue needs to be addressed.

You have recurrent headaches, cold and stomach-aches: If you are emotionally unstable, it will show on your body. Stress has the ability to manifest itself in the form of several physical disorders like headaches, neck pain, frequently running nose, etc.

In today’s advanced, hectic and fast world, we get surrounded by numerous tensions that encapsulate our minds and hearts. Spending sleepless nights, feeling suicidal and antisocial for a prolonged time, we often think that we are just feeling a bit low. It is really unfortunate that most of us go through these excruciating pains, yet do not even seek medical help.

Keep your mental health strong

Since prevention is always better than cure, here are basic yet effective ways to keep your mental health strong.

Most importantly, always remember, “Only ‘crazy’ people do not need therapy”. It is just a senseless stigma carried forward by our previous ill-aware generations. There are millions of other people suffering from depression, bipolarness, anxiety and other disorders. Unfortunately, they fail to accept the need of medical help. If you are one of them or know somebody going through the same, do not be ashamed to meet a therapist, for it is just like any other illness which can be cured. This way, you will not only help breaking the stigma but will also spread awareness about mental health, at least among your acquaintances.

As they say, “You cannot recover from anxiety by just staying calm. You cannot recover from depression by just being positive. You cannot recover from anorexia by just eating more. If mental illness were that simple, we wouldn’t be struggling in the first place”.