Mental health… is not a destination, but a process
Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. People sometimes use the term “mental health” to mean the absence of a mental disorder. Mental health experts agree that a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function. A mental illness can make you feel miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work, or in relationships. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications, talk therapy and guided self-help.
There is no physical test or scan that reliably indicates whether a person has developed a mental illness. However, experts agree that some of the possible signs of a mental health disorder are withdrawing from friends, family, and colleagues, avoiding activities that they would normally enjoy, sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, feeling hopeless, having consistently low energy, using mood-altering substances, including alcohol and nicotine more frequently, displaying negative emotions, being unable to complete daily tasks, such as getting to work or cooking a meal, thinking of causing physical harm to themselves or others.
Treatment is highly individualized
There are various methods for managing mental health problems. What works for one person may not work for another. Some strategies or treatments are more successful in combination with others. The individual needs to work closely with a doctor who can help them identify their needs and provide them with a suitable treatment option. Some of the available options are:
- Psychotherapy, or talking therapies. It is offered by psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and some physicians. The approach here is to help people understand the root of their mental illness and start to work on more healthful thought patterns. Experts agree that these therapies help the patient have better days and reduce the risk of isolation and self-harm.
- Depending on the judgment of the physicians some people are prescribed medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytic drugs. Some medications can improve symptoms and help a person resume social interaction and a normal routine while they work on their mental health. Other medications work by elevating the body’s absorption of feel-good chemicals (serotonin), from the brain.
- Self-help. A lifestyle change is key in facilitating mental wellness. Medical experts suggest that one reduce alcohol intake, sleep more, and eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Also, we need to take time to resolve issues that are triggers of our mental state. Above all, it is encouraged we have a support network, for example, self-help groups, genuine friends, and family as treatment requires a shoulder to lean on.
The World Health Organization reports depression is a common mental disorder and one of the main causes of disability worldwide. Globally, an estimated 264 million people are affected by depression. More women are affected than men. As you live on remember that “some of the most comforting words in the universe are ‘me too.’ That moment when you find out that your struggle is also someone else’s struggle, that you’re not alone, and that others have been down the same road.”
This article was written by Annete Karanja.
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