What is Mental illness?

Dr. Rahul Chandhok, senior consultant Psychiatrist, Faridabad, Haryana. I am currently practicing at Fortis Group of Hospitals.  A very close relative of mine, according to us, is suffering from a mental condition, but he is afraid to go to a psychiatrist. So I am here to get advice on some mental health issues. The first thing I want to know is, what do psychiatrists do? A psychiatrist is considered to be a doctor, consultant, therapist, or psychologist. So I want to make the difference very clear, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has an MBBS degree and has further specialized in psychiatry. So he has the knowledge and experience to diagnose different mental health issues with medicines as well as therapy. 

Next, I would like to know what are the main reasons for mental health issues?

You have to understand that anyone can have mental health issues. It is also seen to be hierarchical, led down from the ancestors. Because anyone can suffer from mental illnesses, it is very important to understand its causes.  Biological reasons: lack of vitamins, thyroid problems, history of mental issues in the family. If the person has a family history of mental illness, lacks vitamin B12 andB3, or thyroid problems, then he is at high risk of getting mental issues himself.  Psychological reasons: personality, your outlook towards life, how you understand and tackle a situation. People who are sensitive, empathetic, stubborn are at high risk of suffering from a mental health issue. 

The third reason can be environmental.  Environmental reasons:  the stress in the house, in the family, at work or in relationships. If you are stressed because of some situation in the house, you will not be able to focus on your work. And the risk of having a breakdown is high. The young generation, who are in relationships and when they don’t end well can also cause distress. 

There are two types of stress: 

  • Modifiable: That can be changed. 
  • Non-modifiable: That cannot be changed. 

The reasons for stress that can be changed should be changed so that the stress can be lowered. But the reasons for stress that cannot be changed, acceptance is the key.  Accept, adjust and adapt. This is the way to reduce personal life stress. 

I would also like to know the types of mental illnesses. 

There are multiple types of mental health issues. The working of our brian in divided into two. Walking, talking, using our hands, eating, seeing, or other physical activities related problems are called neurological disorders and are diagnosed and treated by a neurologist. But if the problem is related to the behavior of the person then it is diagnosed and treated by a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

The different types of psychological disorders are: 

  • Anxiety disorders: the person keeps worrying about the future. Eg. what will happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. 
  • If the person constantly keeps worrying about the small things, like ‘when will the maid arrive?’, ‘what will I cook now?’, ‘how will I teach the kids?’, etc. then it is called generalized anxiety disorder. 
  • Phobia: if the person is scared of height or any other thing, then it is called phobia, the fear of something. 
  • OCD: if the person keeps compulsively cleaning everything then it may be OCD. 
  • Panic attacks: this is when you have nothing to worry about but you still are very stressed out.  

When we talk about feelings:

  • Depression:  if the person is feeling extremely melancholic, you do not show interest in things you like, do not want to socialize, inferiority complex, loss of appetite, suicidal thoughts. 
  • Mania: Mania is compulsive spending and a sense of sudden happy feelings.  
  • Schizophrenia: hearing voices, or thinking that people are against you or conspiring to kill you. 

The psychological problems seen in kids are: 

If the kid is hyper-energetic, the child cannot concentrate in class, despite having a normal IQ the child is unable to understand concepts. It can be learning disorders or ADHA. if the child’s social behavior is not right then it can be autism. His speech is affected too. In older people, mental issues such as Dementia can be seen, in this, the person has permanent memory loss. The person remembers the long-term things but not what he ate for lunch, their address, the people they met, etc. 

Lastly, doctor, I would like to know if these psychological problems can be treated? 

Yes, these mental health issues are treatable, and with modern medicine, it also has no side effects. ‘The treatment is lifelong’ is a misconception that people have. In most cases, the medication is discontinued after the maintenance period to see if the person is going well without the medicine. The medicines available now have no side effects like oversleeping. 

The other way of treating these illnesses is psychotherapy, in which the patient is explained and advised ways to avoid stress.  People think that they would be hooked on medicines if they get treatment, but let me assure you it is nothing like that. 

One should get diagnosed and treated. 

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