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  Mental Health & Depression

Mental health includes: 

  • How you feel about yourself 
  • How you feel about other people
  • How you are able to handle the demands of life 

One way of describing mental health is to describe mentally healthy people.

Some characteristics of mentally healthy people:

  • They fell good about themselves and… 
     
    • Are able to deal with most situations.
    • Are able to take pleasure in simple, everyday things.
    • Are able to handle life’s disappointments.
    • Have self-respect.
    • Neither under-estimate nor over-estimate their abilities.
       
  • They feel comfortable with other people and… 
     
    • Are able to give love to others.
    • Have lasting personal relationships.
    • Respect the many differences they find in other people.
    • Are able to feel they are part of a group.
    • Do not take advantage of others nor allow others to take advantage of them.
       
  • They are able to meet the demands of life and they…
      
    • Set realistic goals for themselves.
    • Are able to make their own decisions.
    • Accept their responsibilities.
    • Plan ahead and look forward to the future.
    • Welcome new experiences and ideas.
    • Are satisfied in putting their best effort into what they do. 

Mental Illness

Mental illness is identified by symptoms. These include anxiety, depression, intense fear, thought disturbances, paranoia, delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations and unusual elation.

Causes

It is unclear what causes mental disturbances. It is often preceded by emotional stress and difficulty coping with conflict or adjusting to adverse events. Other factors are biochemical imbalance, deterioration of brain cells (especially in elderly people) and alcohol or drug abuse.

Types

  1. MINOR MENTAL ILLNESS (NEUROSIS) 
     
    Best understood as exaggerated emotional responses that the sufferer is aware of, yet unable to control. Very often related to stress. 
     
  2. MAJOR MENTAL ILLNESS (PSYCHOSES)
      
    1. Organic Psychoses – In the organic psychoses, there is a demonstrable physical or structural injury to the brain or central nervous system such as head injury, brain tumor, syphilis and brain hemorrhage due to strokes and alcoholism. 
       
    2. Functional Psychoses – in the functional psychoses, doctors do not know yet the exact cause. The cause may be in the patient’s early emotional experiences, his physical make-up or his environment. Most likely, it is a combination of all these factors that is responsible.

Different types of mental illness are distinguished by their symptoms.  Some of the more usual types are:

Schizophrenia
 
A schizophrenia episode occurs at any age, although people in the 16-33 age group tend to be most at risk. Genetic inheritance, childhood experience, personality type and biochemical abnormality have been cited as possible factors. Some of the symptoms include fear, withdrawal, mood fluctuations, loss of energy and self neglect.

Depression 
 

Depressive disorders occur among all ages, races, and cultures. Some causes of depression include: family environment, life events, biological factors, serious loss or stress – i.e. a divorce, death of a loved one, retirement. People suffering from depression experience both physical and emotional symptoms, including excessive fatigue, disturbed sleep, appetite and weight loss, difficulty in concentrating, a failing memory and diminishing sexual interest.

Manic Depression 
 
A person with manic depression has extreme and unpredictable mood changes. The cause is unknown but studies have shown that it could be inherited. Stress may be another cause, for e.g. finding a new job or death of a relative. These symptoms include: talkativeness, big spending, risk-taking behavior and sleeplessness, alternating with symptoms of depression.

Anxiety 
 
Anxiety is one of the more common reactions to mental stress. 10% to 15% of people are affected by some form of anxiety disorder. Long term problems like living in a crowded house can be stressful and even happy events – getting married or switching to new jobs – can cause anxiety. Anxious people feel tense most of the time, having problems with sleeping, are dry in the mouth and are unable to relax.

 

The above information is abstracted from the website of the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MHHA)
Visit the Malaysian Mental Health Association website here.

 

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