It’s ok to not be ok

By Rosalin Hansda

A study conducted by the World Health Organization in 2015 revealed that every fifth Indian suffers from depression.

In other words, nearly 200 million people fall to various types of mental illness. However, only 10 to 12 percent of them seek help because of the odium associated with mental health, lack of cognizance, and limited access to help.

To be mentally healthy means your brain is operating to its optimum level your thoughts feelings and actions create a beneficial impact on your physical and social well being.

Depression, as well as other mental disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can affect any person from any strata of society irrespective of their age, gender or socioeconomic condition. According to a study conducted by WHO, China, India, and USA are the worst affected countries.

The most common type of mental illness seen among Indians are:

Anxiety disorder: A person has severe anxiety associated with certain situation or entity. They may experience a relentless anxiety that can be overwhelming most of the time. Some examples of anxiety disorder are as follows:

• Panic disorder – person may feel sudden deaden terror. He may start sweating having chest pain even irregular heartbeat.
• Phobias- these include fear of certain object or condition like glossophobia (fear of speaking in public), entomophobia ( fear of insects)
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD ) – a person is obsessed and compulsive i.e they may have constant stressful thoughts (obsession) and urge to perform repetitive act (compulsion) like checking the stove 10 times to make sure it’s turned off , washing hands still they are scrubbed raw.
• Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)- this generally happen after a person goes through traumatizing event. People with PTSD have disturbing thoughts related to past experiences. They may relieve the event through flashback or nightmare.

1. Mood disorder: people with this disorder have notable changes in mood mostly involving Mania (elevation of mood) or depression . Example of mood disorders are
• Major depression – Person doesn’t enjoy activities and events they liked previously , extreme prolonged period of sadness is felt.
• Seasonal affective disorder (S.A D). Depression triggered by lack of Sunlight commonly seen in countries far from equator during winters.
2. Bipolar disorder- the person can go from extreme feeling of happiness two terminals sorrow within minutes.
3. Schizophrenia: It’s a chronic and severe mental illness that affects a person’s feelings and behaviour. It usually starts between the age of 16 to 30 and has positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include delusion, hallucination and negative symptoms include lack of motivation and withdrawal.

It’s not easy to tell if a person is mentally sick because it’s not something that can be seen outwards still certain signs appear that may offer clue like:
• Retreat from people and things that they used to love
• Persistently low energy
• Self destructive thoughts
• Eating or sleeping too little or too much
• Hearing voices
• nihilistic thoughts

Correct treatment can help a person overcome mental illness. Many treatments are available like psychotherapy cognitive behavioural therapy and medication. It is the need of the hour to civilise and sensitized people about sign and symptoms of mental health while regularising the thought of rooting for help. It’s OK to ask for an aid there is need to do open talks and dialogues with people and not just expert on this topic. It could create a more comprehensive ambient for people with mental sickness.

There is extreme shortage of mental health worker like psychiatrist, psychologist and doctors. The government should look towards allotting more doctors for mental health issues both in urban and rural areas. Mental health campaigns should be held. People should be encouraged to speak and open up about there thoughts.

There are many celebrities who suffered from mental illness and opened up about it. Artists such as actress Deepika padukone suffered from depression and had to take medicines in 2015. Now, she gladly speaks about it in public. Prince Harry in one of his interviews said he shut down his emotions for two long decades after the death of his mother Princess Diana. Later he took therapy and is in a good place now. He encourages people to open up about mental pressure they face. Many great personalities have mental issues they seek help and motive others as well.

Individually let’s commit listen without judgement. Encourage to speak and seek for appropriate help.

Let’s be more compassionate to participating in someone’s recovery. Let’s choose healthy option not just for physical health but also for our mental health.

(Rosalin Hansda is a general physician at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital in New Delhi.)

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