Mental Health Matters
We all go through low moods and stressful weeks occasionally, it’s natural! But what If it gets in the way of you fully experiencing life. Just like physical illnesses, mental illnesses make you miserable and hinder your daily activities, behaviour and relationships. Mental Health in India is a new topic, and there is still scope for open discourse. Individuals with mental illness are met with feelings of hatred, anger and denial. Opportunity for transformation is often hindered by remarks like “Woh Sab Bakwas Hai” “Log Kya Kahenge” “Tu Pagal Nahi hai.”
In rural India, individuals with mental health issues are dragged to faith healers. They also believe a person with a mental illness must be taken away from society. Survivors are perceived as part of stereotyped groups like “Pagalpan”. Such acts of cruelty prevent people from reaching out for help. It's time to break the stigma and talk about it. Be a little kind and more understanding towards that irritable colleague, quick-tempered father and moody teenagers you come across.
Get To Know What You Are Going Through
“Knowledge is power.” The goal is to empower and uplift each other by being aware of the problem. It is important to shed light on the most common mental health issues we recognise in ourselves and in our loved ones.
1. AnxietyMake It your Friend
Separating anxiety from your reality can be counterproductive. Accepting and bringing it under control can have profound positive effects. With the help of your psychologist and appropriate treatment, you can learn to handle it more efficiently. You might even discover that it is more of your friend who helps you perfect your tasks, increases productivity and helps you be more analytical.
Do you know that feeling you get when you are in a job interview, watching a horror movie, or when you have had one too many coffees? The ones with anxiety disorder feel them constantly at a higher degree, even in non-stressful situations. Individuals with anxiety disorders experience intense fears, apprehension and distress very frequently.
Common symptoms include:
- Restlessness, agitation, or tension
- Nervousness, irritability, or dread
- Heavy sweating, rapid breathing and heart rate
- Lack of concentration due to worrying
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Social isolation
- Upset stomach, diarrhoea, constipation or gas
How to Heal
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to recovery. Your counsellor can help you use the different techniques that include the following:
- Exposure therapy - Exposure therapy involves deliberately confronting your fears to desensitise yourself.
- Cognitive therapy - Cognitive therapy focuses on changing patterns of thinking and beliefs that are associated with, and trigger anxiety.
- Attention training - Attention training brings your attention back to the present moment and unhook from thoughts that may be unhelpful.
- Anxiety management techniques like mindfulness, dietary change, slow breathing, structured problem solving, exercise, support groups, etc.
2. DepressionLiving with Depression
Survivor stories remind us even though it might feel like we are losing the battle, it will get better with patience and kindness to yourself. A better understanding of how your brain works can help you recognise when it tricks you. Although it’s hard to put into words, find a way to talk to someone you trust to start your recovery journey.
Depression is more than just feeling sad. It is mental and emotional exhaustion every single day. People living with depression tend to hold off on telling how they really feel due to the fear of being a “burden.” It’s feeling numb and hollow even when doing the things that you love most.
Common Symptoms include:
- Feeling miserable, overwhelmed, and frustrated
- Lacking confidence and social isolation
- Indecisiveness, guilt, irritability
- Feeling tired all the time
- Drastic behavioural changes
- Frequent headaches, stomach or muscle pains
- Significant weight loss or gain.
- Suicidal thoughts
How to Heal
Untreated depression can go on for several years. It is possible to fight and recoup from depression.
- Psychological therapy - Getting professional help and talking to a therapist is proved to be the most effective.
- Antidepressants - When other treatments fail, antidepressants are prescribed for patients with moderate or severe symptoms.
- Staying active, restoring sleeping patterns, disengaging with thoughts, and dealing with emotions like irritability, self-esteem, guilt and others have shown results.
3. Chronic StressDealing with Stress
We are constantly bombarded with alarming information that stress is a mental weakness that causes a myriad of fatal issues like physical pain to cardiovascular diseases. We have always seen stress as our enemy. A Harvard study has shown individuals who thought stress response was helpful were more confident, less anxious and even performed better.
A missed flight or deadline or a date makes us extremely fidgety and stressed. For certain individuals, these feelings linger and the body refuses to return to a normal state of mind.
- Racing thoughts
- Panic attacks
- Tightening of muscle and stomachache
- Weight gain
How to Heal
It is important to listen to what your body is saying. It is possible to gain control over your stress. Some techniques that have been useful in dealing with stress include:
- Seeking expert guidance
- Breathing exercises
- Muscle relaxation techniques
- Tea containing ginger or peppermint
- Dietary cleanse
- Restoring play
4. Eating DisordersUnhealthy Relationships With Food
Any one of us could develop an eating disorder. People with eating disorders are constantly preoccupied with thoughts like what I’m going to eat, not going to eat, when, where. Since they don’t feel worthy unless they look a certain way, individuals start to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. Eating disorders specialist, Dr Elizabeth Esalen explains that “unmet needs like the sense of belonging, love and connection could spiral into extreme eating disorders.”
It is a complex mental disorder that causes unhealthy eating habits to develop, such as an obsession with food, body weight or body shape. In severe cases, eating disorders can have serious health consequences and can be deadly.
Common symptoms include
- Extreme weight loss or weight gain
- Signs of malnutrition
- Constant vomiting and rotten teeth
- Period irregularities
- Slow healing of wounds
- Hoarding food or constant excuses for eating
How to Heal
It is important to understand that at the end of the day people don’t remember how much you weigh but what energy you brought to the room and how you made them feel.
- Recognising the root cause with professional help
- Mindful eating activities
- Positive body affirmations
- Celebrating your achievements
- Healthy and non-restrictive eating plan
Unfortunately, one in seven Indians suffers from mental illnesses. The Lancet psychiatry article found that it’s highest among the 15 - 44 age group. Indian women are affected more than men due to social issues like gender discrimination, violence, sexual abuse, antenatal and postnatal stress, and adverse socio-cultural norms. Desi culture refuses to recognise mental illness as a real problem. People tend to suffer in silence and get yelled at for being lazy or crazy. Let’s come together and educate ourselves, So we can become our own heroes.