Mental health is a much-discussed topic these days. We see people discussing mental health issues at large. Movies, books and shows too have started having conversations about the same.
Everyone asks you to seek help when facing any problems regarding mental health. The reality of it though, is that very few people actually do. We talk about it, but when it comes to taking steps to improve your mental health, it’s still somewhat of a taboo topic.
In this article, we will discuss the meaning of mental health, some common mental health issues, currently available treatments, and finally scope of advanced mental health treatments.
What is Mental Health?
The Centers for disease control and Prevention defines mental health in the following way:
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.”
Essentially mental health describes the state of our mind.
Why is it Important to Protect Your Mental Health?
One in every 8 people in the world is suffering from some mental disorder. Mental health issues include stress, depression, and anxiety which lead to a deterioration of the lives of people. If a person is facing some mental health issue, it inhibits him in various ways.
For some, it even becomes difficult to do daily life tasks. Even getting up from the bed is a difficult situation for some people. Mental health issues also lead to people feeling isolated and excluded. Due to the lack of awareness about the proper conduct to deal with these issues, the person might start blaming himself.
It also leads to a lack of opportunities and can push a person to take extreme steps to deal with these problems. This is why prioritizing your mental health is necessary.
This would result in a better quality of life. It would also lead to an environment that fosters growth and development. Normalizing conversations about mental health would motivate people to come forward and seek help without the fear of getting judged.
Some Common Mental Health Issues
In this article, we will discuss some advanced mental health treatments that are available. But, before we move on to that, let us first discuss some common mental health problems faced by the current world population.
Anxiety refers to a feeling of unease, nervousness, or worry about a particular situation. It’s a highly common issue that people face. From person to person, the level of impact can differ. For example, a person may feel anxious before giving a speech to a large group of people. For another person, calling someone and talking to them on the phone can be anxiety-inducing.
Some amount of anxiety is common for most people. However, if the feeling has reached an extreme and is intervening in your day-to-day life, you might have an anxiety disorder.
This is when the feeling of fear is intense. It stops you from doing common everyday activities. Having an anxiety disorder can sometimes lead to panic. Panic attacks can occur without warning and this is when your body prepares for a ‘fight or flight’ response. It is possible to face a panic attack when there is no actual danger either.
Anxiety disorders can also be characterized by a phobia of a certain thing such as closed spaces (claustrophobia), fire (pyrophobia), or height (acrophobia).
Even Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly called OCD is a type of anxiety disorder. It is when you have some irrational thoughts that lead you to perform certain repetitive behaviors.
The book turtles all the way down by John Green talks about OCD and anxiety in a very good way.
In 2019, 280 million people were living with depression, including 23 million children and adolescents. So, what exactly is depression? It is the feeling of severe dejection. It negatively affects how you feel, think, and act. The activities that you probably once enjoyed, may start to seem uninteresting.
It is important to understand that just temporarily feeling sad and not being in the mood to do something does not mean that a person is depressed. There should also be a difference in your normal functioning from before.
Depression can also lead to low self-worth; a person might start questioning the reason for their existence. There might be hopelessness surrounding the future and it can also lead to fluctuations in weight and change in sleeping patterns. In a lot of cases, nothing seems worth the effort to a person who is depressed.
3. Bipolar Disorder
The first time, I understood this term was upon reading the book ‘All the bright places’ by Jennifer Niven. The book is so incredible while trying to understand how mental health issues can actually impact someone.
It talks about the stigma associated with mental health problems. It also discusses how a person might not want to come forward and talk about their issues, due to their fear of being labeled as a ‘freak’.
Getting to the point here, what is bipolar disorder? People with bipolar may experience depressive episodes alternating with manic symptoms. Manic symptoms may include feeling extreme energy, less need for sleep, increased self-confidence, or a feeling of euphoria. We can say that a person facing this issue might be living at extremes.
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is faced by people who have experienced or witnessed any sort of threatening event. It can lead to flashbacks or nightmares. It can also lead to avoidance of situations and people that even mildly remind the person of the said event.
A person would be hyper-aware of any presence of threats. It would hamper their normal functioning as living a normal, calm life would prove to be extremely difficult.
People might refuse to get treated sometimes because they might feel that they would have to reminisce about the event.
Schizophrenia affects almost 1 in every 300 people worldwide. It refers to distortions in thinking and way of perceiving the world. It can lead to delusions and hallucinations. A person might feel the sense of constantly being watched. It is also possible that they would hear voices and assume things in a way they are not.
There is a breakdown in the relationship between thought and emotions. It can sometimes get difficult to handle this condition.
6. Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are another kind of mental health condition that is highly pervasive. At the same time, very few people talk about it or even notice its existence until it’s too late. It involves abnormal eating and extreme preoccupation with food.
Some common eating disorders are as follows:
- Anorexia: It includes very low body weight and an intense fear of gaining weight. Characterized by using approaches to control eating so as to not increase weight. Efforts like exercising extremely, vomiting after eating can be adopted. These can prove to be severely harmful to health.
- Bulimia: It includes episodes of bingeing followed by purging. Bingeing is when a person feels that they have no control over eating and thus eats in extreme amounts. This leads to guilt and shame, which they purge. It means limiting eating severely, or extreme workouts.
- Pica: This is an eating disorder, where people eat things that are not food with no nutritional value. There are usually some psychological reasons associated with this issue. It can prove to be extremely detrimental to health.
There are various other such disorders that exist, apart from the ones mentioned above. Mental health problems have become quite common. To solve these problems, it is very important that we are aware of the causes and reasons why a person might face such issues. We need to be proactive and take steps to ensure that these issues can be resolved in the best way possible.
Important Things to Remember
Every other person these days, especially on social media, is talking about how they are depressed.
While we need to understand and believe people when they speak about issues they are facing, it is also essential to be responsible enough and not use these words for the sake of it.
This is because doing that invalidates the feelings and problems of people actually going through such issues. It generalizes the issues to an extent where sometimes they are not taken as seriously.
Let us now talk about some current mental health treatments that are available.
It is a type of treatment aimed at relieving mental distress. Therapy is given by trained professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or licensed counselors.
It involves gaining insights into the lives of an individual. Aims to analyze issues faced by a person by judging them in a psychological sense. It tries to make the person think about past issues that could be the reason for their actions.
The patient works with the therapist to identify areas of improvement and take steps to have a more fulfilling life by working on the existing issues. The therapist acts like an impartial observer and provides advice.
It is also easier to open up to such a person as you have absolutely no personal ties attached to them. A person can go to therapy to deal with specific mental disorders or even a person feeling stuck in life, career can see a therapist.
2. Prescription Medicine
Just like we take medicines whenever we face a physical health issue, they can also be helpful while dealing with some mental health problems.
Though, unlike medicines taken for a physical problem, these medicines do not cure the issue. They can be helpful as they reduce the symptoms by changing brain chemicals. Medicines can make other treatments like therapy or counseling more effective.
3. Brain Stimulation Therapy
Electroconvulsive therapy can be used. It is a safe procedure that sends signals to the brain in order to reverse or lessen the troubling symptoms.
4. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy
This is being widely used for the treatment of people with post-traumatic stress disorder. It is used to relieve psychological stress. It tells the person to focus on the trauma or the problem causing memory. Then you try to alter how the memory is saved in the brain. This helps reduce the troubling symptoms.
There are multiple other procedures available today that make dealing with mental health problems easier. We should do our best to be aware of the available resources and use them to the best extent.
Now, with the improvement in technology and the increased investment in research and development, a lot of things are changing. The world scenario has changed significantly in the past 10 years. This improvement can also be put to use while dealing with mental health. It’s time that we look for advanced mental health treatment procedures.
5. Mental Health Apps
There are various apps available that allow you to keep a check on your mental health. These apps include options such as mood tracking, journalling, and breathing exercises. Such things are essential when you are striving towards a healthy life.
Developing more such applications with even more features is essential. We can have apps that connect you to a medical professional in case of an emergency.
Having your medical history and any required helpline numbers stored in one place would also be helpful. Community apps can also be created which would act like support groups and help converse with people facing similar issues.
There can be various advantages to using mental health apps:
- Provide anonymity: If a person does not want to reveal details about themselves but find solutions to a certain issue that they are facing, such apps can be incredibly useful.
- Convenience: Using an app is highly convenient because like mentioned above all your past data can be stored in a single place.
- To gain information: apps can be the first step while trying to be aware of the issues that exist. If a person is not sure if they, or someone they know, are facing a mental health problem an app can help. Information can be gained about different disorders that exist and their symptoms.
- Lower cost: Therapy is a costly business. An application would definitely be a cheaper source of treatment. It won’t completely cure you but it can definitely save some money by helping with the symptoms by providing preliminary help.
- Accessibility: It is possible that you would not be able to have access to a doctor on a 24/7 basis. An app can help during this time as well. You would also benefit by connecting with people who can prove useful to you in times of need.
For more information on the type of applications that can be developed, you can refer to this article by the national institute of mental health.
6. Music Therapy
Music therapy refers to using music and songs to relieve stress, improve mood, and for self-expression. We can build on this to help people.
Music plays a very important role in the lives of most people. It is possible that you yourselves turn to music in times of stress. A lot of people listen to music while studying, cleaning, when they feel anxious. This is because it helps them feel calm and collected.
The same principle is used by music therapy and it aims to make use of music clinically. Creating music, singing, discussing lyrics, or playing an instrument can all be forms of music therapy. Your likes and interests are kept in mind before you are told to do something.
Music can call up repressed feelings. It can also help to make a person feel less isolated. This is because a lot of times people like a particular song because they feel heard. They can relate to the artist and their emotions.
Just like music therapy, art therapy can also be used. In fact, using a person’s hobbies and interests can be a great way of stress relief.
7. Blood Test for Mental Illness
In April 2021, researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine developed a blood test. This blood test could check the severity of depression and the risk of developing bipolar disorder in the future. It suggested that biological markers for mood disorders could be found within RNA.
The development of such tests would help as it would provide us with clear indicators of identifying a mental illness. The usage of the trial-and-error approach that is prevalent now would be minimized.
8. Usage of Artificial intelligence
We all know that artificial intelligence is being used in all walks of life these days. It is making everything quite easy. So why not make use of AI for the detection of mental disorders?
AI motion sensors can be used to detect the symptoms of anxiety like nail biting, and leg tapping. It can also help by judging if therapists are actually well qualified and making an impact on the patients.
9. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
It is a new process that is being used to treat people with mental disorders. It is considered to be a non-invasive method that can help stimulate your brain. It uses magnetic waves to do so.
It is usually used when other treatments have not worked. Steps should be taken to develop this technology as it is considered to be fairly risk-free.
With advancing technologies, various new treatments will come into play in the future. So, it is important for everyone to keep themselves aware of such development.
We began this discussion by talking about how mental health issues have taken a turn in today’s time. We also spoke about the most common mental health disorders and the ways in which the disorders can be treated were also discussed.
While dealing with any mental health problem it is extremely important to have faith. Faith in yourself, your doctors, and your medicines. It is important to believe that you can get through an issue. If you don’t have the belief that you can get through something, no power in the world can help you in that case. You also need to realize that it is essential to treat people with empathy.
Ensure that you are approachable. That a person would be able to come to you with their problems. Be the strength of your family member or friend who is suffering. Don’t exclude them and treat them as someone different.
It would just add to their problems and not solve anything. Sometimes all you need to do is just listen to someone’s issues. It is not necessary to try and be a therapist for them and diagnose their problems.
Just listen. Be empathetic. Don’t be afraid to seek help.