Dealing with mental illness

10 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
Dealing with mental illness

The Sunday Mail

SIGNS and symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviour.

Examples of signs and symptoms include:

Feeling sad or down

Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate

Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt

Extreme mood changes of highs and lows

Withdrawal from friends and activities

Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping

Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations

Inability to cope with daily problems or stress

Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people

Problems with alcohol or drug use

Major changes in eating habits

Sex drive changes

Excessive anger, hostility or violence

Suicidal thinking

Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained aches and pains.

When to see a doctor

If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness, see your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Most mental illnesses do not improve on their own, and if untreated, a mental illness may get worse over time and cause serious problems.

If you have suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts and behaviour are common with some mental illnesses. If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, get help right away. You can talk to a mental health specialist, primary healthcare provider, friend, relative or spiritual leader. Suicidal thinking does not get better on its own — so get help.

Causes

Mental illnesses, in general, are thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors:

Inherited traits. Mental illness is more common in people whose blood relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation may trigger it.

Environmental exposures before birth. Exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness.

Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression and other emotional disorders.

Risk factors

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, including:

A history of mental illness in a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling

Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one’s death or a divorce

An ongoing (chronic) medical condition, such as diabetes

Brain damage as a result of a serious injury (traumatic brain injury), such as a violent blow to the head

Traumatic experiences, such as military combat or assault

Use of alcohol or recreational drugs

A childhood history of abuse or neglect

Few friends or few healthy relationships

A previous mental illness

Mental illness is common. About one in five adults has a mental illness in any given year. Mental illness can begin at any age, from childhood through later adult years, but most cases begin earlier in life. The effects of mental illness can be temporary or long lasting. You also can have more than one mental health disorder at the same time. For example, you may have depression and a substance use disorder.

Prevention

There is no sure way to prevent mental illness. However, if you have a mental illness, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and to boost low self-esteem may help keep your symptoms under control. Follow these steps: pay attention to warning signs, get routine medical care and get help when you need it. — Wires.

 

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