Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
A lot of attention is being given to mental health these days. After all, it impacts our work, our behaviour, our relationships and our physical health too. According to WHO, the one who realizes his or her potential, has the abilities to cope with day-to-day stresses, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to the community can be considered mentally healthy. One point that has been stressed upon by WHO is that mental health is not a mere absence of mental illness.
Mental health is complex, seemingly healthy individuals can have serious mental health concerns. It is possible for you to get diagnosed with a mental illness even when you are healthy in many aspects of life. Hence, it is important for you to understand some most common symptoms of mental illness to be able to help yourself or others on time.
Signs of Mental Illness
Adults and adolescents might suffer from:
- Excessive worries and anxieties
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- Suicidal thoughts
- Unexplained physical illness
- Substance abuse
- Mood swings
- Inability to cope with day-to-day stress
- Frequent outbursts of anger
Children might show the following signs:
- Learning disabilities
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
How to deal with mental illness?
Dealing with mental illness is difficult but the right technique can be really effective. There are a lot of techniques available out there but finding what works for you the best can be a challenge. Here are some of the methods to cope with mental illness which you can try and add to your toolkit.
Acceptance is the only way to cope with the situation. Imagine you have to drive but you are too sleepy to concentrate on the road. If you drive anyway, then you are inviting an accident which can be prevented if you accept your condition. Similarly, if you are able to notice signs of mental illness but choose to ignore them, then you are inviting more misery into your life. Only if you accept your mental health with your heart and mind only then will you be able to cope with the illness.
Opposite-to-emotion thinking can be a tricky way to cope with the mental illness but it surely is effective. You need to act in the opposite manner of what your mind is telling you. For instance, you are not feeling like eating your food. But you do the opposite of it. You eat it, even if you have to force yourself. This way you will be fulfilling your body’s need. It can be really hard to do the opposite of what you are feeling but give it a shot and you will definitely feel better.
The 5 Senses
This is another way that can be really effective in making you feel better mentally. Here, you use your 5 senses to stay in reality. Let us say, you are feeling overly anxious about something. Now what you do is look around and see where you are. You are in your office. Listen to the discussion your colleagues are having. Feel your chair. Smell the aroma of food that you got from home. Eat some of it. Running through the 5 senses will bring you back to the reality making you feel safe in your environment.
You must have heard this and you might find it annoying. But deep breathing is the most effective way to calm your mind. The trick is to follow 5-3-7 approach. Here you breathe in for 5 seconds, hold it for 3 seconds and then breathe out for 7 seconds. By continuously doing so, your heart rate will come back to normal, your mind will relax and before you know it, you will be feeling better.
It is hard to express your feelings to others. The thought that they might not understand or say something you are not ready to hear is scary. But talking really helps. If you are not sure whether your friends and family can really help, seek out help from a professional. Therapists know how to tackle mental health problems in a professional manner. They will tell you what ways can work for you the best. They might even give you some prescription. Getting comfortable with a therapist can be time taking but is certainly helpful.
Do not be scared of having a mental illness. It is not something that only ‘others’ are prone to. Understand its symptoms and catch them before it’s too late.