In India, we often have this tendency to not go to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Forget about even seeing a medical expert, it is actually a stigma to talk about mental health issues for the fear of being branded as “demented” or “insane”. This stigma is now unfortunately becoming deadlier each passing day. It is reported that by 2025, 38.1 million in India will be lost due to this horrendous stigmatisation.
The cases of Robin Williams or the recent death of Chester Bennington, is a prime example of how mental disorders remain hidden from even our closed loved ones. The stigmatisation and the feeling of inherent guilt people feel when they come to realise that they might be suffering from something seriously psychological can make people hide their issues. They keep on having a sense of vacuum in themselves or a sense of fear that no one will be able to understand what they are going through. This isolation makes them feel helpless and exacerbates the disease to the point of no return.
Life is an arduous process for everyone. But for people suffering from a mental disorders or diseases, it is an arduous process that they feel they have to undertake in isolation. Thus, one needs to become aware of the symptoms of common mental disorders that affect most people. This can actually help us recognise these symptoms in our loved ones and offer them the crucial support they need. People suffering from such disorders need to be conveyed that they are not alone in this battle.
Symptoms related to mental disorders can actually just look like normal behavioural pattern changes, but a careful analysis can actually help you recognise a difference between a normal change and a serious issue that need our concern.
Depression is a disease and sadness is an emotion. The symptoms can include a significant weight loss or decrease or increase in appetite, along with sleep disturbances, low energy levels and fatigue. Such a depressed individual might experience feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt. An individual might have a difficulty in concentrating and making informed choices. A pensive sad mood and a pattern of talking about death or idolising it to escape problems is a major symptom. People also tend to mask their depression by being overtly happy over normal situations.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disease that a lot of people do not know about. And when they come to know about this disorder, they just confuse with being punctilious about doing one’s job. But, it is evidently more than just paying attention to detail. It is a compulsion to a certain activity and constantly pondering over that activity. Cases like constant hand washing, walking in a certain path or a pattern and cleaning your room constantly and unable to purge that feeling out is one of the common symptoms. An inability to concentrate over important tasks because of one’s compulsions to a certain task is a sign too. People tend to dismiss OCD as a quirky habit that an individual possesses and something that is a part of his or her personality. But OCD traits should never be confused with personality traits of an individual. Serotonin imbalance is a primary cause of OCD and that is a serious issue for an individual suffering from it. Thus, OCD traits should not be looked over. Any attempt to normalise OCD traits stops the person suffering from it to reach out and get help.
Bipolar disorder, is one of the disorders in which extreme moods swings or a depressive manic episode happens over a period of time. Abnormal bursts or extremely low spouts of energy, interchangeably and for no reason justifiable by the person suffering from it, can be a sign of a serious issue.
Schizophrenia and the psychotic spectrum of disorders is one of the mental disorders in which a person has hallucinations, delusions and unwarranted suspicions towards their close family members and sometimes also disorganised speech and thinking. Diagnosis of schizophrenia also does not mean that a person can never be his or her normal self. Proper medication, counseling and support of loved ones can actually bring a reform in person’s diagnosis.
The curtain that continues to cover our society’s silence over mental illnesses and disorders, needs to uplifted. An understanding that mental illnesses is akin to a physical illness and can be treated needs to inculcated at the grassroot levels . But a pertinent understanding of the fact that mental illness is not just a “phase” that one get out of easily is necessary. A comprehensive and an empathetic understanding over the seriousness of mental disorders by the society as a whole can make it easier for a person to get diagnosis and get treated at the earliest.