What is required for a body to function properly?
A healthy body and a sound mind. So, whenever there is difficulty in the functioning of any part of our body, we need experts to treat it. These are ophthalmologists, gynecologists, general physicians, cardiologists, and so on. Unlike other body parts, the brain is an integral and the most important body part.
It regulates and controls the functioning of the entire body. It is quite possible that in some human beings, the brain may not function as it should. That’s why, unlike other body parts, it needs to be treated. But here comes along with it a social stigma that revolves around the individual who undergoes psychiatric treatment.
It is quite weird for society to not accept psychiatric treatment for mental illnesses like schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is important for society to understand that like other branches of medicine, psychiatry is also one of them and helps in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioural disorders.
Dr. Parimal Desai, consultant psychiatrist at Abhigam Clinic in Surat explains that psychiatric illness is the illness of emotions. A person with a psychological condition usually experiences extreme emotions in interpersonal relationships, in their social networks, or in their professional life.
Dr Desai, also the Director at Soch- Institute of Mental Health and Deaddiction said, "People with mental health illnesses are often considered violent. The stigma and lack of education stop people from consulting a psychiatrist."
He also points out that in many cases in India mental health illness is linked to some religious belief. For instance, some people link a schizophrenic with a divine being prophet, or the god is talking to them or they are possessed by demons. In certain cases, when teenagers behave differently, marriage is sought as the solution to treat this behavior. Medical practitioners consider this to be delusional.
Genetic and external reasons
The causes of mental illness can be many. Dr Desai shares that it could be 'Bio-Psycho-Social’. "It could be due to biological, psychological, or social factors, or a combination of all three or any two," he says.
Biological factors could be genetic mutations, neurotransmitters, and hormonal imbalances.
Psychological factors such as stress or trauma due to incidences such as the death of parents or any other loved one, divorce, or other emotional reasons can affect one's mental health. Bullying, issues in relationships or biased behaviour towards an individual can also cause social trauma in addition to financial losses in business.
"Substance abuse including all the addictions due to excessive consumption of alcohol, drug, and tobacco, is also considered one of the factors," adds the psychiatrist.
How to deal with mental health illnesses
It is important for people suffering from mental illness to be given a positive family environment. More love, care, and the feeling of belongingness will reduce the risk of suicide. When a person is going through suicidal thoughts, talking to a learned person can calm their racing thoughts suggests the doctor. In addition to primary care from family and friends, it is important to seek medical help in extreme psychological cases.
"Individuals with mild depression or anxiety can meditate and practice yoga whereas those with a bipolar mood disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder should engage in more physical activities," says the doctor.
The doctor added that regularity of medication, psycho-education, living a disciplined life, and ensuring at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep can help a person recover well.
During the treatment, it is advisable to stay away from substance abuse and notice the warning symptoms. Speaking to a family member, relative, or close friend and seeking help rather than starting self-medication is the first step to recovery.
For family and friends
In order to have a faster recovery, it is important for the patient to have a supportive family and friends around. "Read and become more aware of the issue; it will help you deal with the patient well," suggests the doctor.