Mental health refers to an individual’s overall well-being in the context of cognition, behaviour and management of emotions.
Mental health: An overview
Mental health is usually defined as well-being that is measured according to the following parameters-
- Ability to manage and regulate one’s emotions.
- Ability to be productive on a daily basis.
- Ability to manage the normal stresses of daily life.
This topic has been taboo for a long time but due to advances in the field of psychology, people now have a better understanding of mental health, its features and the importance of recognising early signs of mental disorders. In order to lead a healthy, happy and productive life, it is imperative to keep oneself healthy, both mentally and physically. The main factors that affect mental health are as follows-
- Interpersonal factors
- Intrapersonal factors
- Environmental factors
- Physical and physiological factors
Some of the other factors that can affect an individual’s mental well-being include the socioeconomic conditions in which they live, their quality of life, their educational and occupational qualifications and the degree of active involvement in social groups. The aforementioned factors are modifiable and can be changed if the individual wishes to. Some non-modifiable factors include age, gender and ethnicity.
It is important to note that mental disorders should be treated just like physical ailments and no differently. Mental disorders are directly influenced by the following factors-
- A history of mental illness in an individual’s family can make them vulnerable to lapses in mental health in the future.
- Genetic predispositions to certain mental disorders.
- Improper working of receptors.
- Improper production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
- Damaged neural networks
Mental health disorders and their symptoms
Mental health disorders can be of many types, but they can be narrowed down into the following three categories-
- Mood disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Schizophrenia disorders
These disorders can be caused due to environmental, genetic or physical factors. When people are exposed to such stressors for a prolonged period of time, they experience burnout which might eventually lead to the causation of a mental disorder. Recognition of early signs and symptoms is imperative as it will allow the individual to be given treatment either in the form of medication or therapy as early as possible, thereby mitigating the ill effects of mental disorders. A common problem when it comes to the treatment of mental health disorders is the inability to recognise early symptoms. People need to be made generally aware of the symptoms and early signs of mental disorders in order to ensure that they will be able to help others and themselves.
Mood disorders are commonly caused due to hormonal imbalances in the body. The three major mood disorders are as follows-
- Major depression disorder is usually characterised by fatigue, a prolonged period of indifference and sadness, inability to focus on tasks, loss of appetite, low mood and loss of interest in hobbies.
- The seasonal affective disorder usually occurs when individuals live in places where sunlight is limited and temperatures are low. Changes in the season can have a direct effect on an individual’s mood.
- Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme changes in an individual’s mood such as sudden bouts of happiness followed by sadness. It is also characterised by sudden excitement and manic phases followed by low energy and depressive phases.
Anxiety disorders have become increasingly common in today’s world. They are categorised into the following three main types-
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterised by increased worry, restlessness, insomnia and muscle tension.
- Panic disorders are characterised by sudden attacks of breathlessness, increased heart rate, an impending sense of doom and the sudden inability to function normally.
- Phobias are defined as the intense fear of one specific thing. An individual might experience a panic attack when triggered or kept in the presence of the source of their phobia.
Schizophrenic disorders are still highly debated as they cannot be completely categorised as a single disorder due to the presence of a multitude of varied symptoms experienced by an individual with Schizophrenia. Schizophrenic symptoms can be divided into two categories as follows-
- Positive symptoms include delusions and hallucinations.
- Negative symptoms include lack of motor control, flat mood and withdrawal.
It is important to note that individuals from the ages of 16-60 years of age can begin to experience the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Mental health disorders should be treated as soon as they are diagnosed and should be treated just like other physiological ailments. Some of the common treatment pathways include-
- Psychotherapy involves talking to a licensed therapist who will formulate a proper plan of action and use a therapeutic technique specific to the individual’s problems. Various psychotherapies include cognitive therapy, behavioural therapy, psychoanalysis and holistic therapy.
- Medications can also be taken as a form of treatment. Antipsychotics and antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medications for the purpose of treating mental health disorders.
- In tandem with medication and psychotherapy, self-help and occupational counselling also go a long way in treating mental health disorders.
Mental health and its importance are slowly being recognised in today’s world due to advances in medicine and science. It is imperative to recognize the early signs and symptoms of mental health disorders. These disorders can be categorised into three main types which are mood disorders, anxiety disorders and schizophrenic disorders. The main treatment pathways in the case of mental health disorders involve psychotherapy and medication along with self-help techniques.