Mental health mandate: Here's a guidance to illnesses, symptoms, and how to reach out for help
Experiencing dips in energy or anxiety or negative thoughts?
CHENNAI : With the popularity of OTT platforms, the original shows and movies that are released often have a strong issue that is discussed. Among them, mental health is something that has started coming into the limelight.
Take the Netflix series ‘13 Reasons Why’, for example. The characters repeatedly talk about how important it is to take care of your mental health. The makers also launched a website (wannatalkaboutit.com) to help people seek help. Beyond the screen, even institutions in the West have begun focussing on students’ and employees’ mental health. While one part of the world is developing so much in terms of mental health, India is still in its nascent stage with many still viewing it as a taboo. But on the bright side, people with mental health issues are now talking about it openly in safe spaces, creating awareness on the subject.
According to the World Health Organisation, three out of five individuals go through mental health problems at any given point in time. Do you know what to do, whom to call, or where to go when the tasks once passionately performed don’t feel exciting anymore? Do you know how to label the feelings and thoughts running through your mind all day? Do you know that just like seeking help for your physical ailments, wanting guidance on your mental health is equally important? B Ilayaraja, counselling psychologist, takes CE through the terms, symptoms, and how to seek help.
Understanding mental health terms
On a daily basis, the psychologist handles seven individuals, majorly dealing with anxiety issues. While he is happy that many now understand they have a mental health condition and come forward to treat it, there is another section that uses these words recklessly, and even when seeking the right help, they shy away from accepting it. If you are going through any of the following for two weeks to two months, it is advisable to consult a mental health professional.
A feeling where the individual loses all interest in the previously involved activity. Impairment towards work, social life, or for that matter, not concentrating on self, lacking personal hygiene or grooming can be termed as depression. It not only affects day-to-day activities but also makes you feel like you are not a free being — cannot run away with all the feelings and thoughts that keep piling up.
For new mothers, it is common to undergo postpartum depression. Just like other mental health issues, this is not widely spoken about and is something that many are unaware of. For the aged, geriatric depression is common as this is the age when they are retired, their children start a family of their own, and they develop the tendency to forget matters. This is a situation where they often see symptoms as they are free of responsibilities.
- Not knowing what to do
- Not wanting to move
- The work that was loved earlier now feels tedious
- Lacking energy to take care of oneself and the surroundings
A feeling where the individual fears “uncertainty”. In a state where you build negative thoughts over positives and are fearful that the negative thoughts and feelings will come to reality, the question ‘what if this happens’ is always in the back of the mind. In a situation where you face difficulty in talking and blocking yourself from performing tasks because the fear overpowers every other line of thinking, you may have anxiety-related issues. This can be towards self, health, job, or life in general.
- Keep running through the same thought/feeling over and over again (overthinking)
- Breathing difficulty
- Severe headache for prolonged hours
A feeling where the individual is going through symptoms of depression and anxiety and reaches a point when it is out of control. This is when you lack the ability to think and express. There is a chemical imbalance in the frontal area of the brain that results in schizophrenia.
- Hallucinations and paranoia
- Disturbed sleep cycle
- Experiencing only negative thoughts and feelings
- No physical activity, still for hours
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A commonly used term now, it is a feeling where the individual either loses interest in activities performed at present or engages in an activity of their own. Not only in children, this behaviour is to be found in adulthood as well known as adult ADHD.
- Want to do all the activities at a time (Hyperactive)
- Engages in own activities when attention lacks
- Not able to follow a trail of thoughts or feelings
Post-COVID, this has become a very common term, wherein if you have the habit of compulsively washing hands or wanting things to be in a particular order, you label it to be OCD. In reality, it is more than that. It is of two types. Behaviour-related — where you want everything to be in order, say, the arrangement of boxes in your kitchen, the hanging of clothes on a hanger, taking only a calculated number of steps, performing an activity only in a certain way. Whereas as for obsession, it is where you get ‘obsessed’ with something or someone. These are thoughts that cannot be shared outside, as you as an individual do not acknowledge those thoughts.
- Following an order, if not, facing a major inconvenience
- Having sexual thoughts for x number of times a day
- Thinking of a person or a word they use over and over
Now that looking for assistance has become easier, remember that help is just a step or a call away. It is a part of the individual or the family to seek the right help. If you are in a situation where you can explain your problem, and the feelings and thoughts that you go through, then consulting a psychologist is key. They are the ones who talk you through problems. They conduct therapy sessions. However, if you are not able to talk about your situation, or feel you have lost your trail of thoughts and feelings, and need a third person to explain your problem to others, then consulting a psychiatrist is a better option. Psychiatrists are specialised in prescribing medication. There are individuals who need to consult with both and there are also cases when the individual has to be admitted to a hospital as they battle their own thoughts and feelings, having no sense of what they are doing.
Before seeking help from a professional, try talking to your family about what is troubling you and what you want to do about it. “Focus on mental health and address the issues faced, acknowledging will help you find better answers and have a support system that backs you up always and to all those who are seeking help,” says Ilayaraja.