The Rundown on Mental Illness

Can you imagine being inside someone else’s head, or having more than one person in yours? Unless you have a mental disorder, you may be able to imagine it, but you likely haven’t actually experienced it. Although mental disorders like anxiety and depression have become more and more recognized in society, what about the ones that are left in the dark? The ones such as dissociative identity disorder, gender identity disorder or even something as odd as Alice in Wonderland syndrome.

So, why do these strange things happen to people’s brains? Sometimes neurotransmitters are tampered with in the brain due to biological factors. Other physical causes may include prenatal damage, brain defects, substance abuse or even something as simple as poor nutrition. Psychologically speaking, things such as previous trauma, neglect, or inability to relate to others can also lead to a mental illness developing in someone. But, are you born with a mental illness or does it develop over time? A majority of the time, they develop over the course of your life, although sometimes biological factors can contribute to the development of them. Disorders such as anxiety and depression tend to begin their onset in late childhood, around age eleven to twelve. Other ones, such as obsessive compulsive disorder or a syndrome relating to substance abuse have a tendency to begin in one’s early twenties. Although many mental disorders are a direct result of abuse, neglect, or other traumas, some come on their own without reason. Sometimes it’s not anyone’s fault, nor did anyone do anything wrong, a person’s brain is just a bit different.

So how do we know that someone is developing a mental illness? There are many warning signs of a mental disability during the onset, or beginning stages, of one. Symptoms of a mental illness coming onto someone include withdrawal from people or activities that were once enjoyed. Along with this comes a drop in function. Even if someone does still do the things they once took interest in, they do it much less enthusiastically. Increased emotional sensitivity as well as a feeling of being disconnected from the world is also common. Problems thinking, illogical thinking, and unusual behaviour may also occur when people are in the beginning stages of a mental disorder. Lastly, nervousness, change in appetite and sleep, and mood swings may also take place.

Mental illnesses are often taboo and can prohibit someone from everyday functions. For example, social anxiety can create problems when someone has to start a conversation with someone who isn’t in their inner circle. If the person is medicated for their mental illness, they can be susceptible to side effects from their drugs. These may include but are not limited to fear of authority figures, difficulty concentrating, and negative reactions to change and criticism. Along with that, there is sometimes difficulty accessing mental health care from a normal health provider, or insurance company. Sometimes, mentally ill people will also be prohibited from performing certain tasks, or obtaining certain jobs. For example, if you have been hospitalized for a mental illness, especially involuntarily, you are very limited to the jobs you can take on in the healthcare industry. Some people even are limited from driving due to a mental handicap.

But, when it comes down to it, most mental illnesses can be treated so one can resume back to their everyday way of life. Many people who are diagnosed with a mental illness can reach a point of recovery through independent or group therapy. This may also be known as psychotherapy, but it isn’t as scary as it sounds. It’s just exploring one’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions through speech and other means of observation. Another option to manage the symptoms of a mental disability is through medication.While some medications may cause side effects that could be unpleasant to some, it can help one manage the effects of their illness for another. There are also many forms of alternative medicine for people who don’t like the side effects of the usual drugs used to treat their mental disorder. This may consist of changing one’s lifestyle to a healthier diet, working out more, spending more time in the sun in order to obtain vitamins, or even consuming or smelling specific herbs or plants may help some people. These plants may even include medical marijuana, which is often used to help calm anxiety and worry.

To sum everything up, mental illness can have a huge impact on society. It can change the way someone looks at their life, or even morph their reality. If one has a mental handicap, it can affect their loved one’s lives as well. Mental illness can travel through society from one person to another although it isn’t contagious. People are capable of picking up other people’s mindsets and thoughts, so it can transfer from one to another. Along with that, it can make someone more vulnerable to other aspects of society, which can easily take a toll on their family and friends.  Watch out for the signs of mental illness, and assist someone in getting help when they’re in need of it. It can be just as fatal to one’s mind as a terminal disease.

GJHS '18. With definitions, you eliminate creativity. I write open letters. I love hard hitting topics.

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Aurora Freeman, Greater Johnstown Senior High School

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