6 things you should know about your mental health!
Published 25 Apr 2022 • By Berthe Nkok
Mental health is an essential element of our well-being and goes far beyond the absence of mental illness or disability. It has very often been neglected because its disorders are little known and have no apparent symptoms. However, our mental health is very fragile and in order to take good care of it, it is important to know and understand what it is.
What is mental health? What are mental disorders?
Here are 6 facts about mental health problems that you have probably never heard of!
According to the WHO, mental health is "a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community".
According to global prevalence figures, depression affects about 300 million people worldwide, and anxiety disorders affect almost 4% of the world's population. These two conditions make up the bulk of mental health problems.
Despite the fact that the restrictions linked to Covid-19 pandemic have been eased, the Britons' mental health remains a major concern, as it is still largely misunderstood, and a lot of people suffering with depression or anxiety struggle to identify their symptoms.
What are the types of mental health?
Positive mental health: this includes general well-being, personal development, psychological resources and the individual's ability to play a social role.
Psychological stress: it is caused by stressful situations and existential crises (bereavement, relationship failures, school failures, etc.), but does not necessarily indicate a mental disorder. However, anxiety or depressive symptoms are usually related to accidents or circumstantial stress and may be temporary. In most cases, people suffering from mental distress do not receive any special care. If it follows a temporary and stressful event, it is considered a normal adaptive response. On the other hand, if it becomes intense and persistent, it may be an indicator of a mental disorder.
Psychiatric disorders: these conditions are of variable duration, and may be more or less severe and/or disabling. Differentiated according to a diagnostic classification based on specific criteria and targeted treatment, they all require medical attention. The consequences of such psychiatric disorders can be extremely severe: disability, premature death, discrimination and exclusion.
Mental health of the British people has deteriorated due to the current health crisis. According to mind.org.uk, a third of adults and young people claimed their mental health has got worse since March 2020. However, 1 in 5 adults did not seek medical help, as they didn't consider their problems as serious. According to the same research, the pandemic has hit certain groups and populations harder than others, for example, young people and people who receive benefits.
6 facts about mental health and mental disorders that you have probably never heard of
Mental health problems shorten the lives of those who suffer from them
Mental illnesses reduce the life expectancy of those affected. They can result in natural death, difficulty taking care of one's own body or suicide.
Schizophrenia reduces life expectancy by 10 to 20 years, bipolar disorder by 9 to 20 years, addiction to drugs or alcohol by 9 to 24 years and chronic depression by 7 to 11 years. In comparison, life expectancy of heavy smokers (1 pack of cigarettes, or more, per day) is reduced by 8 to 10 years.
Anxiety is one of mental health problems and it can take different forms
Anxiety can be diffuse, persistent, irrational and affect most everyday situations. This is called generalised anxiety disorder.
Anxiety can also be focused on one or more very specific situations, the presence of which triggers severe symptoms. This type is called phobias.
Sometimes fear appears only for a very short period of time. In the absence of any warning signs, it is quite violent and causes symptoms that can mimic an acute heart attack, lung disease or neurological disorder. It is in fact a panic disorder, also known as a panic attack.
In some cases, anxiety does not cause any of the symptoms mentioned above, but makes the patient perform a number of repetitive actions in order to temporarily relieve the suffering. These are called obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD).
Mental disorders have a different effect on the brain, depending on the sex of the person
Depression, anxiety, eating disorders and bipolar disorders are more common in women, while schizophrenia and complications associated with the use of drugs are affect mostly men than women.
For women, some mental disorders may be caused by early motherhood or childbirth, and the "double burden" of unpaid housework.
Depression, the most common mental health problem, affects both adults and young people (children and teenagers)
It is estimated that up to 8% of adolescents aged 12-18 suffer from depression. But at this age, depression is often overlooked. Teenagers have difficulty expressing their emotions and tend to communicate their distress in an unusual way, so their depression can be confused with depressive emotions that are common in adolescence.
Depression is one of the major causes of suicide in the world
Every year in the UK, there are more than 6,000 suicides (16 per day).
Men aged 45-49 and women aged 50-54 have the highest suicide rates in England and Wales.
Mental disorders are most often temporary and do not have serious consequences
Mental health is often associated with mental instability. In fact, the term covers a much wider range. Most mental health disorders are neither severe nor long-lasting; they are usually short-term conditions with mild to moderate intensity.
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