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World Mental Health Day: Spotlight on Three Common Mental Illnesses

by Carolyn Lee Oct 7, 2019

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World Mental Health Day is 10 October 2019. 

We are never fully healthy if our mental health is poor. 

Enjoying good mental health means taking care of our psychological, social and emotional wellbeing. 

In recognition of World Mental Health Day, we are identifying three common mental illnesses. We are looking at the warning signs and where to access help. 

Three common mental illnesses 

Anxiety disorders  

These include panic disorders, phobias, generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety.  

People with anxiety disorders often experience fear, dread or terror in response to certain situations or objects.   

Some of the signs of anxiety disorders are hyperventilation, increased heart rate, trembling, nervousness, constant worrying or gastrointestinal problems. Feeling intense fear, terror or anxiety manifests repeatedly and can lead to panic attacks. 

Someone experiencing a panic disorder may have heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain or feelings of doom. 

Suffers of social anxiety experience feelings of concern, embarrassment and self-consciousness in social settings. This often causes them to avoid social gatherings for fear of being viewed negatively.  

There are several different types of phobias. Many of these are not serious. However, some could lead to panic attacks. 

Mood disorders 

Persistent periods of sadness, changing quickly from being very happy to extreme sadness or persistent feelings of sadness are all linked to mood disorders. Mood disorders are also referred to as affective disorders. The most common types are bipolar, depression and cyclothymic disorder (elevated mood and euphoria). 

Noticeable signs of depression include an overall hopeless outlook, insomnia, increased fatigue, disinterest, anxiety and changes in appetite or weight. 

Mania and depression are two of the main signs of bipolar disorder. Mania has several stages, among them impulsive actions, restlessness and risky behaviour. 

Depression can result in feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts or attempts, withdrawal or fatigue. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 

Persons who have endured one or more traumatic events may develop PTSD. High risk individuals include survivors of a violent crime (rape, riots, violent robbery, physical or sexual abuse), war or torture, accidents or disasters. 

In some instances, persons who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and members of the military, police or emergency personnel are also vulnerable. Women who have endured traumatic childbirth are also susceptible for PTSD. 

Someone who is suffering from PTSD often experiences reliving aspects of the trauma. Common signs include hypervigilance, nightmares, irritability, sleeping problems or emotional numbness (detachment, amnesia, etc.). 

PTSD symptoms usually occur a month after a traumatic event but may also manifest several months or years later. 

Who is susceptible? 

Depression and anxiety disorders are more common in women. Some of the contributing factors for this include exposure to sexual or domestic violence, childbearing, and in some instances, poverty. 

However, both men and women suffer from the mental illnesses covered in this article. 

Get help 

If you know someone who may be dealing with a mental illness, it is imperative that they see a doctor who will assess them and provide a diagnosis and referral to a specialist. 

The content of this article is for information purposes only. 

We hope that it will help you to focus more on your mental health this month and going forward. 

Sources: CDCMental Health AmericaNCBI and Mayo Clinic.