|Sunday, 28 November 2010 21:52|
Positive mental wellbeing is essential for our overall health. A lack of mental wellbeing contributes to major health challenges.
People who are positive, are more productive, suffer less chronic illness and feel good about themselves, their relationships and their place in the world. It is estimated that one in four individuals will experience some kind of mental health problem during the course of a year, and many of these problems will be to do with feeling low and anxious. Just as good physical health gives us more strength to combat injury or illness, good mental health helps us to achieve balance and cope with stress.
Commonly seen disorders
Depression: When someone feels sad for a longer than a couple of weeks they may be depressed. Depression is an illness, no less real than diabetes or heart disease, and not a sign of a personal flaw. One may experience feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, loss of interest in what they usually enjoy, lack of energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns or crying for no reason.
Treatment: Seeking help is important. Medications and short-term psychotherapies have proven effective.
Panic/ Anxiety Disorder: This is characterised by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by symptoms that include chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, chest pain, smothering sensations, a fear of impending doom or loss of control.
Treatment: Techniques include cognitive restructuring to help people turn their anxious thoughts, interpretations and predictions into thoughts, which are rational.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: OCD is an anxiety disorder in which an individual suffers from unwanted repetitive thoughts and behaviours. It occurs in a spectrum from mild to severe, but if severe and left untreated, can destroy a person's capacity to function. A patient may worry constantly about having dirty hands or clothing, or about catching or spreading germs.
Treatment: The most effective treatment is by using medication and counselling together. A specific behaviour therapy approach called exposure and response prevention is very effective.
Psychosis (Schizophrenia): Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder in which reality is interpreted abnormally. It results in hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking and behaviour. A person who suffers from this disorder withdraws from people and activities, retreating into an inner world marked by psychosis.
Treatment: Medications help a great deal in lessening hallucinations and delusions, and maintaining coherent thoughts. Psychotherapy can offer understanding, reassurance, insights and suggestions for handling the emotional aspects of the disorder and providing less stressful living situations.
Personality Disorders: Having a personality disorder means you have a rigid and potentially self-destructive or self-denigrating pattern of thinking and behaving in any situation. This leads to distress in your life or impairment of your ability to go about routine functions. Frequent mood swings, stormy relationships, social isolation, angry outbursts, suspicion and mistrust of others, difficulty making friends, a need for instant gratification, poor impulse control and alcohol or substance abuse are common signs.
Treatment: Research into the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and dialectic therapy have shown promising results. It seeks to teach a patient how to learn to better take control of their lives, emotions and themselves through self-knowledge, emotion regulation, and cognitive restructuring.
Source: Seema Hingorrany (2010), "Be Positive!", The Times of India. Original article can be viewed here.