Life is full of many ups and downs, hence the need to develop coping mechanisms. Dealing with a loved one’s death, job loss, financial difficulty, or parenting challenges can cause an emotional breakdown, which requires immediate counselling services.

Mental health is a state of wellbeing where individuals gauge their ability to manage stress, work productively, and contribute to society. Many mental disorders exhibit different presentations characterized by a combination of unusual thoughts, insights, emotions, views, character, and association with others.

Forms of mental disorder 

Clinical depression is persistent depressive moods and the loss of interest in activities. Additionally, symptoms of depression include sorrow, feelings of guilt or low self-esteem, disturbed sleeping patterns, lack of appetite, fatigue, and reduced concentration.

Depressed individuals have numerous physical complaints with no ostensible physical cause. It can impair the ability to concentrate at work or school and can be long-term or recurrent, majorly affecting daily life. Severe forms lead to suicide.

Prevention and mitigation programs should aid in containing depression through psychological support for physical and sexual abuse victims. Mild to moderate depression can be treated effectively through cognitive behavior therapy or psychotherapy.

Though effective, antidepressants can effectively treat moderate to severe depression but are not the first treatment option, and children should not receive them. Observe caution in administering depressants to adolescents.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is associated with extreme mood swings ranging from depressive low points to manic high points. It consists of a combination of both depressive episodes and separate periods of ordinary mood. Manic episodes include elevated mood swings, irritability, over-activity, low self-esteem, rapid speech, and insomnia.

In acute phase of bipolar disorder and relapse, effective treatment is available, including psychosocial support.

Schizophrenia 

Schizophrenia alters an individual’s capacity to reason, feel and behave clearly. Psychoses, including schizophrenia, are characterized by distorted thoughts, abnormal perceptions, and emotional breakdown. Significant psychotic experiences include hallucinations – imaginations of seeing things not there, and delusions – false beliefs or suspicions firmly held without concrete evidence.

Psychotic individuals are at a higher risk of exposure to human rights violations such as confinement in institutions. Stigma and discrimination can cause a lack of access to healthcare services.

Studies reveal that most forms of schizophrenia begin in late teenage and adulthood with treatment ranging from medicines and psychological support. With proper treatment and support, patients can be integrated back into society, leading every day productive lives.

Dementia 

Dementia is a chronic progressive deterioration in cognitive function. Its characteristics include thinking that affects daily functioning. It majorly affects memory, thinking patterns, comprehension, learning capacity, language, and judgment.

Impairment in cognitive function leads to deterioration in controlling sentiments and social behavior.

Brain injuries and diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke are causes of dementia. There is no known cure as many treatments are at different stages of clinical trials. Caregivers should play a role of support and improve wellbeing for people living with dementia.

Developmental disorders 

The developmental disorder is a collective term that includes intellectual disability and pervasive development disorder such as autism. Developmental disorders have a childhood beginning but seem to persist into adulthood, causing delays in functions connected to the nervous system’s maturity.

Symptoms of pervasive developmental disorders include impaired social behavior, communication challenges, slurred speech, and a narrow range of interests and repetitive activities unique to the individual. Autism is a severe developmental disorder that impairs the capacity to communicate and interact.

Family involvement is vital in caring for people with developmental disorders. Structure to daily living prevents stress, with consistent times for mealtime, play, learning, socializing, and sleeping.

Regular health checkups are encouraged, and the community should play its role in respecting the needs of people living with a disability.

Other forms of mental health disorders include

  • Anxiety disorder is a mental disorder that includes feelings of apprehension, nervousness, or distress, extreme enough to interfere with daily life.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a severe condition that involves difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – extreme thoughts appearing to be obsessions and lead to repetitive, compulsive behavior.
  • Characteristics of post-traumatic stress disorder include the inability to recover after undergoing or witnessing a traumatic event.

Causes of mental health 

There is no single proven cause of mental disorders. However, a combination of factors can contribute or trigger the risk of mental illness, including

  • Family history and genes
  • Life experiences that may include stress, history of childhood abuse, painful life experiences, etc.
  • Severe brain injury
  • Biological factors such as chemical inequality in the brain
  • Exposure to viruses or toxic substances during pregnancy
  • Childbirth complications
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

Diagnosis 

Mental disorders are complex and challenging to identify. The steps to getting a diagnosis may include

  • Examining medical history
  • A physical examination that may consist of laboratory testing
  • A psychological evaluation that will address questions about your thinking, feelings, mental state, and behavior.

 

Treatment 

Treatment for mental disorders depends on the type of condition. Prevailing scientific advancement has helped in the development of medication and access to treatment. However, some diseases have no cure, and you can only manage them through therapy, diet, and a positive mental state.

Social support and awareness are also crucial in managing the condition. There is a need for intensive treatment in some cases, while more severe cases, may need admission into a psychiatric facility.

Instances of people hurting or threatening to injure themselves should be addressed and receive attention that includes counseling services, participating in group discussions, joining support groups and sessions with mental health professionals.

The burden of mental disorder continues to drain societies with a significant impact on well-being and productivity. Governments are yet to fully respond to the requirements of mental disorders, which is compounded by a deprived healthcare system and lack of adequate information.

The general public needs to be sensitized to acquire information and eliminate stigma towards patients and immediate family members. Authorities need to do more and help in assessing educational programs tailored to fit their specific needs, gaining employment and basic amenities.

WHO action plan 

World Health Organization’s Mental Health Action Plan that was endorsed by the assembly includes

  • More operative leadership and governance on matters relating to mental health
  • Provision of all-inclusive, integrated mental health and social care within the community
  • Implement strategies for promoting infrastructure for mental healthcare
  • Strengthen research, information, and awareness for mental health