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Mental health and ignorance associated

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By: Vivek Bhat

Death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput has taken aback almost every one of us. Ironically, after his splendid performance in movie “Chichore” imparting the message to fight till end and ruling out suicide as an option, he himself died of suicide (till last details, inquiry underway). In his shape we have lost much talented, down to earth, self-made actor. The question is what made one successful man at the peak of his career to end his life the way he did and the answer to that very question is “an unconquered  fight” with no other than himself.

Human mind is the largest battleground where everyday millions of battles are fought, won or lost. Alas! Not every one of those give desirable outcomes. NCRB,2019 data suggests, our country has reported 1,39,123 suicidal deaths in the year 2019. The numbers are more than people who died of Covid-19 in country in 2020.

Also, National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) 2016 says India needs one psychiatric per lakh population, most states, except Kerala, fall short of this requirement. MP is the worst with 0.05 psychiatric per lakh population; Kerala has 1.12. The data, definitions and figures used in this article are in accordance with Government surveys and National Mental Health Program website.

Death by suicide is just an outcome of very serious and unattended problem; our mental health and the ignorance associated to it. Mental health is equally vital as physical one. Although technology has brought us closer yet apart are we as far as mental connections are concerned. In rat race for money, status, power we overlook peace of mind. In this discontented world we don’t think of our own mental health and therefore even doesn’t care about the mental health of our family member, next door neighbours or colleagues. Enlisted are some major mental diseases with possible causes, symptoms and magnitude.

  1. Anxiety disorders.

Anxiety like fear, happiness etcetera is a natural emotion inherited by us from the very beginning and  it comes as a response to stimulus but when it comes without the one it becomes disorder. It is chronic. According to study of National Mental Health Program (NMHP) one in seven Indians suffers of some kind of mental illness, anxiety (GAD) has the largest share. It causes persistent fear of death, losing someone closer, financial bankruptcy or unnecessary worry for future. It can be cured through medical help in severe and persistent cases and through exercise, yoga & meditation in mild cases. India records more than 10 million cases per year of people suffering from anxiety disorders.

It has two major categories.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive anxiety or worry about things as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances and it alters their sane response to everything happening in their day to day life.

Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:

  • Feeling restless.
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Being irritable
  • Having stiffness in body muscles.
  • Hyperactive brain.
  • Mood swings.
  • Insomnia.

Panic Disorder (PD)

Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that come on quickly and make one feel fear of unknown origin and reach to its zenith in small fraction of time. During a panic attack, people may experience:

  • Heart palpitations or an accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath.
  • Feelings of impending doom
  1. Depression.

Depression is a mood disorder, multi-dimensional mental problem carrying persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.  A layman without having knowledge of depression can’t pinpoint the actual problem he is suffering from hence  leading to avoidable consultations and clinical tests. Because depression  involves heart, causes gastrointestinal problems makes one feel in his lowest in both physical and psychological manner. Bereavement, unsuccessful marriage or love affair, the loss of a job or in business, some traumatic incident etc can lead to depression. It has many forms clinical, post-natal, bipolar disorder and persistent depressive disorder (PDD) are most common. In India, the National Mental Health Survey 2016 says one in 20 Indians suffers from depression.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of depression can include:

  • a depressed mood.
  • reduced interest in activities you like.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • sleeping too much or insomnia.
  • agitation, restlessness, palpitations.
  • a loss of sexual drive.
  • loss of focus and concentration.
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or an attempt at suicide
  1. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia  is a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality, which causes significant distress for the individual, their family members, and friends. India records more than one million cases of people suffering from schizophrenia every year.

Symptoms

Symptoms of schizophrenia can be categorized in three types.

Psychotic symptoms those include altered perceptions, abnormal thinking, and odd behaviours. People with psychotic symptoms may see the world in a distorted way. Specifically, individuals typically experience:

  • Hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there.
  • Delusions, which are firmly held beliefs not supported by objective facts (e.g., paranoia – irrational fears that others are “out to get you” or believing that the television, radio, or internet are broadcasting special messages that require some response)

Negative symptoms those include loss of motivation, disinterest or lack of enjoyment in daily activities, social withdrawal, difficulty showing emotions, and difficulty functioning normally. Specifically, individuals typically have:

  • Reduced motivation and difficulty planning, beginning, and sustaining activities
  • Diminished feelings of pleasure in everyday life.
  • Reduced speaking

Cognitive symptoms those include problems in attention, concentration, and memory. For some individuals, the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are subtle, but for others, they are more prominent and interfere with activities like following conversations, learning new things, or remembering appointments. Specifically, individuals typically experience:

Difficulty processing information to make decisions

  • Problems using information immediately after learning it
  • Trouble focusing or paying attention

There are some other mental diseases which we need information of.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Obstructive sleep disorder (OSD), Obsessive compulsive disorder (OSD , Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, epilepsy and bunch of phobias.

After detailed mental problems we have solutions to cure or avoid those problems altogether before advent. Those are:

There is dire need to pay attention towards people and show solidarity towards people in stress. Many Governments and Non-government organizations are working over it. Choose mental health over  material wealth. We should never try to be overachiever and while aiming towards our goal we should keep space for failure as well for it brings lot of experience and is part and parcel of this unpredictable life. Never try to make a ready to fit structure for your wards as a parent also as policy makers we need to reform our education system to assessing childrens’ core competency  and then move in that direction. New educational policy recently  laid by our government is apt step in that direction and needs applause. We need not to push our children to get more marks and seek academic excellence rather make them eager to seek knowledge.

Coronavirus pandemic has exposed overrated and shallow healthcare system of many developed nations bowing down to virus and throws light on the dire need of more penetration and resource allocation in healthcare systems. India has already over stretched healthcare system but it has  shown strong resolve and resilience during Covid-19 likewise steps are requisite in mitigating the dearth of mental practitioners in country. We need not to hide our softness, being emotional is not a sin. Never should we delay to seek medical help if we are not able to coup up mental burden by our own. All diseases mentioned above are curable through medical help, counselling and therapies. The most beautiful thing of life is its unpredictable nature. Always be ready to accept it not withstanding how hard the things may come. Have healthy life style and exercise daily.

The writer works in Department of Posts, GOI, and can be reached at viv1bhat@gmail.com

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