“Mental health is emotional and behavioral well being. If you can maintain successful emotional and mental activities you are mentally healthy. But do we all perform well in all these areas every single day? No, because no one is happy all time.
Does that mean we all are mentally ill? Certainly no. A person is said to be mentally ill when an individual has to deal with some abnormalities in the
functioning of their brain, meaning a part of their brain isn’t working as it was designed. It could be due to irregularities in neurotransmitters or inheritance by their blood-related family member or due to their exposure to a particular environment and behaviors. Every disorder has different symptoms; some may have distinct differences between them, whereas some symptoms may overlap with others.
One of the major mental illnesses faced by people in today’s time is depression. A group of conditions that are associated with the elevation or degradation of an individual’s mood is depression. Now we may have seen people throwing the word depression and depressed casually, but this
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disorder goes much deeper than that. It is more than a mere fluctuation of mood or short-lived response to a specific situation. But if it lasts more than 4-8 months and has started to affect your day to day activity, you might want to look into it and set an appointment with the doctor.
Some of the symptoms that are common to depression are :
● A deep feeling of sadness
● The feeling of hopelessness or anxious
● Low self-worth and self-esteem
● Significant mood swings and irritability
● Do not enjoy activities that you used to love
● Negative thoughts majorly about self-harm or suicide
● Withdrawal from friends and family
● Lack of energy
● Disrupted sleep cycle
● Difficulty in concentrating
● Appetite change
● Loss /gain of weight
Though it’s hard to explain the exact causes of depression as it’s a result of a complex interaction of social, biological, and mental processes in which research is still going on, it’s safe to say that there isn’t any major flaw that causes depression. What happens inside our brains in case of depression?
Biochemistry of depression:
Scientists argue that restoring the balancing of brain chemicals could help alleviate the symptoms. Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are the neurotransmitter associated.
- Dopamine is your ally for learning, memory, behavior, movement coordination, and the sense of pleasure explaining why as soon as it drops, the person is unable to feel or act in a certain way.
- Serotonin is responsible for critical bodily functions, aggressive eating, sexual behavior, and mood. Researches have shown that a low level of serotine could play its part in depression
- Norepinephrine is an excitatory neurotransmitter associated with attentiveness, muscle movement, sleeping, dreaming even appetite. The decreases and even rises of this chemical have been found in the brain of people suffering from depression.
New researches also hint at the possible relationship of neurotransmitters like GABA, glutamate, acetylcholine with depression.
For now, antidepressants are known to work on the top three neurotransmitters mentioned. But as explained earlier, no one major flaw is responsible for depression. There is a chance that the person might have to take other forms of help as well because balancing the chemicals might not be enough. Remember, depression has a different way of showing itself on other individuals; you may or may not experience the same symptoms mentioned, or different emotions may be expressed in various ways, again, depending on the individual. You may experience some of the symptoms without being in depression. The correct and reliable diagnosis is done by doctors
Imagine the happy day of your life, when the oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine were doing their magic, the sun is shining, the flowers are extra colorful today, you have confidence, and everything around you is achievable. All of it is possible; nothing seemed like too big of a problem, nothing you can’t handle. And now imagine the one regular lousy day when all your energy is sucked out of you when nothing seems to make you happy, or just a mundane task felt like a burdensome chore. “do I have
to take a shower today?”…. “Why do we do anything?”
Maybe not as dramatic as laid out by my words, but now that you do remember them imagine going through them daily. A person suffering from bipolar have these emotions stirring in their brain at regular interval and in a much more brutal way.
Bipolar, according to NIMH, is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. Mood generally refers to mania and hypomania. Each episode has its symptoms.
Symptoms of mania and hypomania:
Even though both mania and hypomania are two different and distinct stages, mania is more severe. The major difference between both, hypomania is marked by the absence of psychosis. It could also be explained as a state between normal and mania. Mania causes more damages, to a level where they need for hospitalization may occur like a break from reality.
Symptoms of mania episode
● Extreme euphoric state.
● The decreased need for sleep
● Extreme restless and impulsive
● Have racing thoughts
● Talk fast
● Changed appetite pattern
● Increased sex drive
● The sudden high rush of confidence and power
Symptoms of the depressive episode
● Lack of energy
● Feeling of hopelessness
● Feeling of worthlessness
● Demotivated to do work
● Difficulty in concentration or decision making
● A constant state of fatigue
● Negative and harmful thoughts
● Isolating oneself
The symptoms of adult and children do vary.
There are three different faces of bipolar, all including the extreme shift of mood and energy. The very first Bipolar I disorder, the mania episode lasts for seven days, and the depressive mania for more than two weeks comes along. The mania episode can be severe enough for the
patient to admit them to the hospital. Mixed features are visible too.
Bipolar II disorder unlike bipolar I, bipolar II does not have a distinct mania episode rather hypomania episodes that occur at least once before depressive episodes. The cyclothymic cycle is also known as cyclothymia in this hypomanic symptoms are visible but not a full-blown mania episode or depressive episode. It consists of cyclical mood swings. Rapid cycling is the term used to describe a pattern of repetition of both bipolar episodes for more than four times a year. Anxiety, insomnia, psychosis and even eating disorders could also be seen as one of the symptoms during major manic or depressive episodes.
Bipolar’s cause, just as depression is hard to trackback to one problem. This too involves a complicated relationship with one’s brain chemistry, genetics, and experiences. The trusting diagnosis of bipolar can only be done by a mental health professional.
Catastrophe and the cure
A basic google search will tell you that over 10 million cases of both the disorders are seen per year are in just our country. Depression and bipolar disorder fall under the category of “prevalent” mental health issues, but we never see people around us talking about it. Unfortunately, we can’t understand what problem is going on in a person’s mind who is suffering from depression. People with mental illness have to face twice the trouble. Symptoms and results being the one but stereotype and prejudice by the society forced upon them being the second one. Sadly, the latter one is faced by a lot of people post disease/disorder too. The idea that something must go wrong in your life to be depressed is a major persistent one.
It also comes along with the famous line, “ It’s all in your head.”
A large section of our society believes that dealing with depression on your own is the way of living and that it’s normal, it’s just the same as being sad. It is, therefore, labeling people with these disorders as mentally weak.
It’s high time we talk about some well know and proven facts.
Mental illness is real
- You can be very disciplined, do all the gymming, eat all kinds of the right food and it could still get to you.
- You could have a loving family and friend and all that people call “the perfect life,” and you still have a mental illness.
- You are not weak to have a mental illness.
Mental illness does not discriminate between class, race, age, or geography. They are there present among you, and they need your attention and support.
Live. Live. Live
With every mental illness survivor’s story, you at least get one message. DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE.
Living with mental illness is difficult, but some ways and treatments could help to improve your state of mind, but it all starts with asking for help. There is no shame in that. The very first step towards it is the acknowledgment and want for a change. The second thing to do is to seek help from a professional. Sure, talking to friends and family help, but they are the temporary support, but mental health professionals are trained to help you. Once you seek professional help and have been diagnosed with the disorder, a lot of treatment plans could be used.
Medication is one of the solutions. It does not have to be for a lifetime, but it sure needs regular attention.
Talking to your therapist can be beneficial as it helped to tackle your negative thoughts and helps you to understand the behavior and thought you earlier couldn’t, it helps you understand the triggers of the mania or depressive episodes too.
Knowing yourself better is also one of the ways to be better.
Your therapists might come up with a different style/type of therapy sessions that could help you.
Self-care involves taking time for yourself and work towards better habits. Exercises, avoiding alcohol and harmful substances, fixing the sleep schedule, and learning to rest is some form of self-care.
Learning to say no
Learning to express yourself better is a significant advantage for you. Often we are ashamed of saying no and scared to turn people away, but we need to understand that taking care of ourselves also means knowing when to stop, it isn’t selfish; it’s essential for you. It’s okay if you just want to live for the little things in life. One day at a time.