December, 2015

Blog on Mental illness by Dr Sabina Roa best Psychiatrist in Bangalore - Sakra World Hospital

Are you suffering from a mental illness? Dr Sabina Rao tells you why there is nothing to be ashamed

Mental illness is in the list of top ten disorders that cause disability across the world according to the World Health organization.

The WHO also says, globally 350 million people suffer from depression. In the Indian private sector over 42 % of people suffer from anxiety and depression as per a study done by the industry association Assocham.

Inspite of the suffering, very few people in India seek help for mental illnesses. Across the world,more so in countries like India, seeking help for a mental health condition is a “no­no”, is “stigmatizing”.

As more and more people migrate internally for a better life, as many families move out of the joint family system, traditional supports are becoming less easily accessible to people. The lack of support is felt not only by the migrating population, it is also felt by the families they leave behind.

Within Bangalore, as people move closer to the work place and move out of their family homes, loneliness, depression, anxiety can start to emerge in families, couples, parents and grandparents.

In big cosmopolitan, relatively expensive cities such as Bangalore, both partners need to work. This means they need to make arrangements at the home front, arrange for child care. If this does not happen effectively, often one partner has to quit work. This example of a catch 22 situation creates stress in the lives of people making these choices.

Many mental health conditions are treatable. Not all mental disorders require medications. Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, are called “common mental disorders”. Mild to moderate depression, generalized anxiety disorder, illnesses such as panic disorder can be treated with therapy/counseling.

There are some rarer illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Delusional Disorder and Bipolar Disorder that get better with dications and therapy.

Schizophrenia is typically characterized by hearing voices, feeling as if people are plotting against one or feeling scared. It is a rare illness but most people with this illness can be treated successfully.

Bipolar Disorder, also called Manic Depression, is typically characterized by significant highs and lows in mood. The mood alternates between feeling excessively happy or elated to very severe depression.

Feeling low for most of the week, loss of appetite, loss of interest in activities, difficulties with concentration and loss of sleep are some of the common symptoms of depression. In more severe cases of depression, one can experience hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness and even suicidal thoughts.

Symptoms of anxiety include feeling tense most of the time, feeling like one cannot relax. Palpitations, feeling giddy, breathless, sweaty palms, tunnel vision can all be signs of a panic attack. Sleep problems tend to accompany depression, anxiety and a variety of mental health conditions.

Substance use such as excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs have emerged as very significant contributors to health problems in India. Use of alcohol and other drugs are sometimes used by people suffering from anxiety and depression too. Sometimes, those suffering from Social Phobia, which is the inability to be comfortable in groups of people due to the fear of being judged, tend to use alcohol, sometimes drugs as ”crutches” to overcome the fears.

Mental Health cannot be seen as a separate entity from physical health. Mental and physical health tend to go hand in hand. Just as a lot of physical conditions have treatments and cures, so do mental illnesses.

Mental illness can act as a barrier to stability of individuals, couples, families, one's profession, and communities as a whole.

Leading a healthy lifestyle, such as eating healthy and exercising help the mental health of individuals. In addition, treatments in the form of medications and a variety of evidence based therapies, such as cognitive behaviour therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, etc, are good options.

It is important to seek help, seek help as soon as possible.

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