Mental Health Awareness Month
In recognition of this month being Mental Health Awareness Month, Healthy Silver Fox would like to highlight some of the areas attributed to mental health and draw attention to the fact that the issues faced by many sufferers are more common than currently known.
In general our mental health affects our emotional, cognitive and behavioural and social well being. It affects how we think, act and can and has a bearing on how we make choices, relate/react to others and handle stress. Changes in our emotions, behaviour or thinking due to stress may affect you functioning properly in the work, social or family environment. This can be a result of some form of mental illness. Diagnosing any form of the illness early is very important, especially in children and young adults as this can often be the difference between coping or disaster as the move from adolescence to adulthood. The World Health Organisation stresses that "mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.”
In recent years, great strides have been made in bringing the subject out into the open, removing the stigma along with the embarrassment and shame that was long associated with it. This openness has seen more people actively seeking professional help with the overall number of people reporting some type of mental health grow by more than 20% over the past 20 years with estimates of 1 in 4 suffering from some form of mental illness. Many of the illness outlined are very complex and affect people in different ways.
Forms of mental Illness:
Anxiety: Anxiety is what we feel when: afraid, worried or tense , particularly about future situations. A natural human response when felt under threat both felt mentally and physically. Commonly felt when experiencing a stressful or change of events. This impacts the ability to live and function as you want.
Bipolar disorder: Mainly affects your moods where the patients experience amplified mood swings. Bipolar refers to the way your moods can change between two very different mood states: Mania and Depression; manic or hypomanic episodes (feeling high), depressive episodes (feeling low) or potentially psychotic symptoms during either of the episodes. We all suffer from mood swings, but bipolar disorder can be very distressing and have a big impact on your life.
Body dysmorphic disorder: An anxiety associated with body image. Obsessive over body image and perceived flaws. Compulsive in behaviour and routines
Borderline personality disorder: Sufferers have difficulties with how they and feel about themselves and other people. Worries of abandonment ,intense emotions that can last days, feel empty and act impulsively. Often self-harm and have suicidal feelings. Insecure in relationships..
Depression: Very low moods than can last for days/weeks at a time, that keep reoccurring. Severe sufferers have trouble coping , feeling numb, empty and suicidal. Treatment depends on the various types and whether the sufferer has a mild, moderate or severe case of the depression. Some of the more common forms are: SAD-Seasonal affective disorder; Dysthymia- continuous mild depression that can last for 2 years.
Eating problem: Difficult relationship with food, not all sufferers will be over/under weight. Can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or weight. The problem tends not to be about food but around their emotions and focusing on food can be a way to mask their feelings. They are often anxious or depressed , tired and ashamed .
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) : 2 parts, Obsessions-urges, worries and doubts that repeat in your mind, leading to anxiousness(mental discomfort). Compulsion-repetitive activities to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsession. It’s about having control over your negative thoughts. can make day to day life very difficult and affect work, health and relationships.
Panic attacks: A type of fear response, exaggerated response to the normal fear response. What suffers experience physically; pounding hearts, faint or dizzy, sweating, nausea, trouble breathing, weakened bodies. Mentally they experience; losing control, having a heart attack, going to die. Fears can manifest to staying indoors or developing agoraphobia. Attacks can come from nowhere and happen to anyone at anytime. Certain triggers have been known to set sufferers off.
Paranoia: The feeling or thinking that you are being threatened in some way, even if there’s no evidence that you are. Often delusional thoughts that can exaggerate comments to you and thoughts about others, especially when negative. Fear often become amplified. Suffers think they are being talked about, followed, being excluded from events, interpret meaning wrongly, threatened by others, governments are trying to control you.
Personality disorder: Significant difficulties in how you relate to yourself and others. Your feelings cause problem of distrust, abandonment and distress in your daily. living. Intensity with your feeling, behaviour and emotions can be often be overwhelming or threatening so as to frighten off others in a relationship. Can often start in childhood and carry on through adulthood.
Phobias: Type of extreme anxiety, form of fear triggered by an object or situation. fear out of proportion to the danger faced - spiders and height are often mentioned.
Post traumatic stress disorder:
Psychosis: when you perceive or interpret reality in a very different way from people around you. You might be said to 'lose touch' with reality. Most common types are hallucinations, delusions,
Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a very complicated mental health problem related to psychosis with around 1 in 100 people being diagnosed in their lifetime. It may develop over time and signs of schizophrenia include hallucination, hearing voices, delusions, paranoia avoiding self care.
Sleeping problems: Close link between sleep and mental health as the problems will affect the quality of your sleep, which intern will have a negative impact on your mental health. Poor sleep can lead to worrying and wise versa. Many sufferers of poor sleep may also suffer from ;Anxiety, depression, poor concentration, inability to think clearly, lack of energy, psychosis . The persistent lack of quality sleep (7-9 hours)can develop into Insomnia
Stress: There’s no exact medical term but it’s often described as a reaction to pressure where the situation makes the person feel as thought they are pinned down and the feeling of control disappears. The effect can make it difficult to work and to even cope with the simplest of tasks. Considered a "psychiatric diagnosis” but linked to mental health as the outcomes can lead to anxiety and depression making it difficult to operate on a day to day basis. Physical signs tend to be headaches, tireless or upset stomachs.
Factors affecting your mental health:
Life experiences: like trauma or abuse
Family history: of mental health problems.
Low self confidence/esteem
Quality of relationships
Early warning signs: Changes in our behavioural patterns can often be an early warning, this includes changes in;
Dramatic change in eating or sleeping habits
Unexplained aches or pains
Excessive drinking, drugs, smoking
Feeling scared, confused, forgetful, edgy, upset, worried
Excessive mood swing/Arguing over nothing, excessively
Repetition of the same thoughts or images
Inability to perform simple daily tasks
Dealing with the illness:
Acknowledging the the problem can often be difficult, especially if the deterioration has taken over a long period of time. Discussing the issue with the patient will often be met with resistance and denial. It’s important to persist, as hoping from an improvement can lead to the sufferer deteriorating even further .
Contact your nearest Doctor, NHS, social services or mental health charity like : Mind ,Place2Be, Time to Talk Mental Health UK, Rethink, who can advise you on what the best action going forward.
The topic of mental health has definitely been made easier for sufferers to talk about over the past few years as the stigma has slowly disappeared. This has made it easier for those who need help to come forward and seek it.
But the complexity of mental health can mean that 2 patients could have the same diagnosis but be treated very differently. This task makes it all the more difficult for the medical practitioners with more and more people falling under the mental health umbrella.
In some form or another, we could fall under some form of mental illness. I’d like to think that hasn’t happened to me, but then again denying it could suggest that i’m delusional..
Mental health has such a bearing on our wellbeing, it can remain hidden which then can bring on poor cardio health as a result. Prioritising balance in your life is often the key, but in this busy, hectic world its easier said than done. The more you do and think for others, the more you find perspective.