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Mental Health Awareness Month



Mental Health is one of the most overlooked and also the most common health issues in our world, it is now that people are talking about it and working on erasing the stigma around this topic. This article is for you to be able to recognise and take any action needed to help out a friend, family member or even yourself especially during this difficult time.

Stress, anxiety and depression are the more commonly known mental health issues and are used and there are occasions where these words are thrown around quite casually and these words seem to be losing their meaning, so here is what they really mean.

STRESS


Stress is in fact a normal human tendency that happens to everyone and the human body is designed to experience and react to the same. "Stressors" are changes or challenges experienced by an individual, the physical and mental responses are what we call stress. These responses can differ based on what kind of stress one is experiencing. There are two kinds, chronic and acute which are long and short term respectively.

Stress cannot be diagnosed with a test, it is subjective, and only the person going through it can diagnose it. Our body reacts to stress by releasing hormones keeping our brain more alert and causes your muscles to become more tense and an increase in pulse which for a short term period (acute stress) is good as this can help handle the situation stressing one out, this is only our bodies' way of protecting us. In chronic stress these can put us at risk with health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, menstrual problems or even skin problems such as eczema or excessive acne.

Stress can be dealt with by simple and effective methods such as breathing exercises or pranayama. It is also necessary for one to take constant breaks and make time for their hobbies once they realise they might be getting too stressed.

ANXIETY


Anxiety is stress that continues after the stressor is gone. It is an emotion faced by nearly one in three adolescents when dealing with daily problems at home or at school. It is quite common but can become a disorder when this emotion becomes persistent.

Anxiety is also self-diagnosable. A few symptoms that might be noticed are constant confusion, a sense of helplessness, repeated negative thoughts, difficulty breathing and being on edge.

To cope with anxiety simple strategies such as regular exercise for the release of dopamine are effective. Psychotherapy can also be helpful and is sometimes used with medication to erase any symptoms of anxiety.

DEPRESSION (Tw)


Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time and affects our everyday life. It is often triggered by the loss of a loved one, physical illness or physical or mental abuse. Studies show that women are more likely to be affected by depression than men and that globally more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.

It is important that we realise that feeling sad is not the same as depression, depression is a sense of hopelessness and/or worthlessness. Feelings such as a constant state of feeling low or "blue" are not the only symptoms of depression, it can be diagnosed by other symptoms such as easy agitation, fatigue, or suicidal thoughts.

(Having suicidal thoughts or an urge to self-harm is seen in an individual when they haven't been seeking help for a long time and their depression has started to worsen. It is crucial that if you are going through this or someone you know is that you convince yourself or them to go to therapy. It will be hard, I am sure but it will get better.)

Depression can be dealt with by going to therapy and talking with them about it. Antidepressants are also prescribed at times but only for adults. Support groups are also a healthy and effective way to cope with depression. It is also important that one stays in social contact with at least one person they trust, and are not alone for a long time as a lack of distractions can lead to extremely negative thoughts.

BIPOLAR DISORDER

Formerly known as manic depressive illness this is a mood disorder with two extremes: depressed and manic. It varies in how severe it is and mild cases can seem ordinary. In between episodes of the two extremes an individual is likely to function well.

Symptoms for this issue vary with the most common being, when a person is feeling at their lowest they feel lethargic or may feel suicidal) and when manic they feel overly elated and are easily irritable and tend to engage in potentially dangerous activities.

To help cope with this, psychotherapy is quite necessary as people going through this need their symptoms to be recognized and give medications accordingly so as to treat acute episodes. Psychosocial support is an important component of a patient's journey and is proven to be quite efficient as well.

OCD


Obsessive compulsive disorder is not the need for everything to be perfectly clean and organised, it is the feeling of something being terribly wrong, dirty or someone constantly watching over them. These feelings are known as the obsessions. This disorder makes children repeat same behaviours over and over which is known as a ritual or a compulsion.

It is not yet clear to doctors as to what causes OCD but so far studies suggest that it may be due to genetics or serotonin as it has been seen that OCD responds positively to medication affecting levels of serotonin.A few of the obsessions include worries about contamination, perfectionism and safety.

There are multiple other mental health issues but these seem to be the only ones being used on a daily basis in our surroundings and therefore it is important to know what they actually are and how these issues can be helped out. It is important that we stop using these words as supplements for sad or mood swings in daily vernacular and take these topics more seriously and try to help out anyone going through this or any other mental health problem. Here is a link to help you find a helpline in your country.

Happy Mental Health Awareness Month !


~ Arushi


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