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Break the Stigma: Misconceptions Surrounding Mental Health Illnesses

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Our health is usually associated with what we know and see — our eyes, skin, hair, muscles, and overall appearance. For many of us, if these are well-taken care of, we can be as healthy as possible. However, we are too focused on these things that sometimes we neglect to check those things beyond what our eyes can see.

Our brain’s proper functioning and mental capacities are responsible for much of our success and happiness in life. Maintaining our physical health requires taking care of our mental health and finding medication for illnesses that can impair it. However, the shame and stigma surrounding mental health prevents people from speaking out, discourages them from asking for help, and distorts their identities. That said, it prohibits individuals from receiving the assistance they need. Therefore, it’s imperative to educate ourselves on various matters regarding this issue.

Here are common myths and misconceptions about mental disorders:

IT IS RARE

According to the World Health Organization, one out of every four individuals would have psychiatric or neurological illnesses in their lifetime. To date, 450 million people are dealing with such conditions, with 264 million individuals suffering from depression globally, making it one of the most widespread mental health conditions in 2017.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), another widespread mental illness, affects about 3% of the American population which comes to about the equivalent of about 3.8 million individuals. Facts are, five percent of people would have a mental health problem in a year with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia to name a few. Thus, to say that these conditions are rare, one needs to reassess one’s stand in life.

IT IS PERMANENT

Having such conditions does not equate to a life sentence. However, we have to understand that healing is not linear and that each person’s experience is unique. Recovery means different things to different individuals.

Some people may go through episodes before returning to their version of normal. At the same time, some can take prescriptions, medications, and therapies to return things to order. But most mental health conditions are addressed and resolved, provided they are identified early and treated appropriately.

For example, therapy sessions for substance abuse, prescriptions and medications for depression and anxiety; counseling for traumatic accidents; and even recovery plans for eating disorders.

Having a solid support system from family and friends is also vital in helping individuals get through their condition. Each mental health problems have a solution, and help is available by modifying or regulating socioeconomic, biological, cultural, and psychological causes.

The bottom line is that most patients who take the necessary steps would have a higher chance of having a better health status.

IT’S A PLACE OF VIOLENCE

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If any, the greatest indicator of potential violence is a history of crime, and the majority of aggressive individuals do not have a diagnosable psychiatric illness. Individuals who suffer from the most prevalent psychiatric diseases, such as depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, experience less aggression than the general population.

People who have a severe mental illness, on the other hand, are ten times more likely to become victims of violent crime.

The majority of these diseases have a clear genetic origin, and brain scans have shown that these disorders have differences in brain function and faulty connections in brain circuits. Conditions, medicines, alcohol and substance abuse, and brain trauma all impair proper brain activity, resulting in depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia symptoms.

Although individuals with depression and other mental illnesses can experience periods of low morale due to their condition, timely and appropriate care help even the most seriously ill people recover and resume their lives.

While society’s awareness of mental health problems has progressed dramatically from a decade ago, we still have a long way to go. We need to aim for a world where nobody is ashamed nor afraid to ask for support anymore. That having a mental illness is neither shameful nor anything to be scared of. Thus, it’s essential to be knowledgeable about these conditions and educate ourselves and others.

Mental diseases are widespread but know that there is help available.

Nobody should suffer in silence. Nobody deserves to deal with their pain alone because of these misconceptions and the stigma surrounding this matter. When we openly talk about mental health problems, we remove the isolation, guilt, hate, and pain that many people feel. Be kind and be gentle with yourself and those around you. Remember, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

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