Table of Contents
- Introduction to Mental Health
Introduction to Mental Health
What exactly is mental health and how do we define it? World Health Organisation (2014) stated that:
Mental health is not just the lack of mental disorders. It is a state of well-being in which every person recognizes their own potential, has the ability to manage the normal stresses of life, can function productively, and is able to make contributions to the society.
Mental health is becoming an increasing issue in our society now. One out of four people will be faced with mental illness sometime in their lives, however, only one-third of people with mental illness seek help from professionals, stated by WHO. This is due to the fact that the world views those with mental illness with such negativity and often labels them as a disgrace to mankind. Mental illness can affect anybody of any age or race and can often influence a person’s life or career. Since there are so many disorders such as schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder; let’s discuss specifically about depression. (Ten Teachers, 2017)
Introduction to Depression
Depression is defined as “an illness that involves the body, mood and thoughts and that affects the way a person eats, sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things.” (MedicineNet, n.d.) According to WHO, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression. It is also the main reason for “disability worldwide”. (World Health Organisation, 2018)
Types of Depression
Sometimes, certain situations would prompt different types of depression. Now, let’s take a look at some types of depression. Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, is a reoccurrence of sadness and restlessness which lasts for more than two years. Besides that, there is also a condition named seasonal depression, which is when a person’s emotional state is dependent on the season. Postpartum disorders usually occur in new mothers as they suffer from exhaustion and also extreme mood swings. In addition to that, we have bipolar disorder, which is when people have trouble controlling their feelings; psychotic disorder is a condition that has similar symptoms with bipolar disorder but it comes with hallucinations and paranoia. (Healthline, 2018)
Symptoms of Depression
To be frank, it can be quite difficult to diagnose depression as it is hard to draw a line between unhappiness and mild depressive illness. The risk factors consist of a number of factors such as psychological factors which include loss of mother or social isolation; physical illness such as HIV, cancer or even diabetes and also sociodemographic factors which consists of unemployment or lower socio-economic status. In addition to that, depression is frequently associated with deliberate self-harm (DSH).
DSH in Depression
DSH is becoming increasingly common around the world. One thing to take note of is that DSH is different from suicide as most people who commits DSH is just looking for a temporary escape from the painful reality or even thinks of it as a shout for help though that help is usually not given. There are numerous ways in which people can self-harm such as scorching one’s skin with cigarette; pinching or clawing at one’s skin; picking at healing scars. Other more lethal forms of self-harm include overdosing on prescriptions; carbon monoxide poisoning; hanging and drowning. The question now is, what causes an individual to choose DSH? Several factors include inability to cope with a stressful life; relationship problems; physical or sexual abuse during childhood and also having a psychiatric disorder. Another thing to remember is that DSH individuals are usually vulnerable after the attempt as they will usually be bombarded with feelings of guilt, embarrassment, panic or even fear due to the fact that most DSH is done in impulse.
Next, let’s take a look at what psychological treatments are available for individuals suffering from depression. There are a lot of different treatments however the most common form of treatment is prescription of antidepressants and psychological counselling. It has been proposed that treatment is more effective when medication is combined with therapy. (American Psychiatric Association, 2017) It is however, not within reach for some people due to a number of factors such as time and money. Others psychotherapy include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). CBT is an organized therapy that helps to identify that our actions and belief are affecting our feelings. The aim is to change a person’s way of thinking to be more logical and positive in solving problems. On the other hand, MBCT is usually administered in a group which teaches ‘mindfulness meditation’. It teaches you to focus on breathing which allows the person to focus on the present, to ignore the future or past and negative thoughts and feelings. IPT focuses on making people aware of harmful patterns in their relationship which makes them more prone to depression. By recognizing the signs, they can generate their attention on how to manage stressful situations. (beyondblue, n.d.)
How does people view depression?
People in our society has a misunderstanding about this condition. They think that it is just a temporary thing; it will disappear with time; depressed people should stop exaggerating the illness and move on with life. People seem to be under the impression that depressed people are mostly women, taking antidepressants would change your personality for the worse and having depression makes you a weak-willed person. However, these are all just misunderstandings which arise from the lack of awareness about depression.
According to a study research by JAMA Psychiatry in 2013, it was reported that if we include male-type symptoms of depression, which includes excessive aggressiveness and drug abuse, men has a higher probability (26.3%) to have depression than women (21.9%). (JAMA Psychiatry, 2013) Besides that, depression doesn’t make a person vulnerable. Take for example Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president, and Terry Bradshaw, a professional football quarterback. Both had experienced depression yet it did not obstruct them from achieving their dreams. In addition, a study shows that depressed people who are despondent and reserved, with the tendency to brood and panic has noticed a change in personality for the better after taking antidepressants. It proves that antidepressants doesn’t change a person for the worse. (CTV News, 2009)
In conclusion, depression is a widespread phenomenon nowadays and it is not enough to just take care of our body physically as our mental health is just as important. It can occur to everybody regardless of status, origin, sex and age. Treat everybody with compassion as we will never know what a person is going through. Remember, even though depression affects millions of people around the world, there is still hope for depressed people to get better and live their life to the fullest.