Mental disorders are often referred to as a disease of the soul: over the course of our lives, we gradually exhaust our nervous system, but for the time being we do not consider chronic anxiety, fatigue, aggression and sociopathy to be anything truly serious.
Nevertheless, neuro-psychiatric diseases are now recognized as one of the most serious social, medical and economic problems.
Today, everything is different: doctors have the ability to recognize even milder forms of mental illness that no one has ever paid attention to before. And these milder forms are much more common in patients than schizophrenia.
Scientists have estimated that about 15% of the population in each country is subject to different mental disorders at any time. But what percentage of these 15% are recognized and diagnosed depends on so many things. For example, the qualifications of the same therapist who is regularly observing the patient.
And from the attitude of the population to their mental health: if people are not afraid of psychotherapists and psychiatrists, are not afraid to consult them, then timely in the early stages of diagnosis is much more mental disorders.
Which are the most common?
First of all, these are neurotic disorders – panic, obsessive-compulsive (obsessive neurosis), generalized anxiety, somatoform (a group of diseases in which mental problems of patients are hidden behind somatic symptoms).
The second most common are mood disorders: depression, bipolar affective disorder (previously known as manic-depressive psychosis). Depression affects 5-6% of the population at any given time.
The third most common is substance dependence. Here, of course, the figures will fluctuate depending on the level of alcohol consumption, “table” traditions of the country, the state’s anti-alcohol policy, but on average it is 1.5-2% of the population.
The fourth place is occupied by dementia of the old age, which affects 5% of people aged 65 and over.
If a person leads a healthy lifestyle, has no bad heredity and regularly trains his memory, can he become mentally ill?
No one is immune to this type of illness. Education, wealth and social status play no role here. Another thing is that different factors are important for different diseases. There are mental disorders caused by external factors, and sometimes it is genetics that is to blame.
When a patient is sure that there have been no mental disorders in his or her family, one always wants to ask him or her the question: to what knee does he or she know his or her genealogical tree? As a rule, we are more or less aware only of the health of our parents, even worse – of the illnesses of grandparents, very bad – about how we lived and complained about our great-grandfathers.
However, it is foolish to accuse only genetics. The causes of mental illness are far from being fully investigated. Moreover, they are almost never caused by any one factor. In the vast majority of cases it is about heredity, lifestyle, psychological trauma, emotional stability, exposure to stress, and so on.
Is there really a seasonal exacerbation of mental illness or is it all a myth?
No, not a myth. Of course, there are mental illnesses that have nothing to do with the seasons – the same substance dependency, for example, or dementia. And there is a seasonal affective disorder, so-called seasonal depression.
It is indeed exacerbated by early spring and late autumn, which is primarily due to the short duration of daylight hours, so one of the methods of treatment – light therapy. The change of day and night, seasons affect the course of internal processes, including the mental activity of the human body.
The cyclicality of our psyche can manifest itself in the form of exacerbation of various endogenous diseases. Variations in atmospheric pressure affect the human vascular system and the neurovegetative regulation of internal organs and systems.
Schizophrenia is less seasonal than mood disorders, but it is also more likely to become acute in spring and autumn. Unfortunately, it is not possible to determine exactly what exactly affects it.
But, most likely, exacerbations are connected with failure of circadian rhythms of an organism. A human being is, first of all, a biological creature, in the depths of his brain there are areas that regulate the level of hormones. Each hormone has its own rhythm. And when for some reason there is an imbalance, it affects the mental state of the person.
We are often told how important it is to watch your blood pressure, eat properly, and see your dentist regularly. But for some reason nobody advises to visit a psychologist or psychotherapist at least once a year or in a period of serious emotional upheaval and stress.
In fact, this is a huge problem. On social and economic losses, mental disorders outpace almost all forms of human diseases, including cancer, and are inferior only to cardiovascular pathologies. This is the data from the World Health Organization.
In fact, almost everything depends on our mental state – how we will build a family life, raise children, and perform professional functions. Here is a small example: pilots of airliners, train drivers are obliged to pass a medical examination.
It is clear that they will not be allowed to the steering wheel or steering wheel if they register any serious deviations in their physical well-being. What about mental health? After all, professional burnout, chronic fatigue, depression are not significant reasons for not coming to work.
In particular, many people do not consider depression to be a disease that requires serious treatment. “Pull yourself together! Stop whining! You are weak, you should be ashamed of yourself! In the war people have never heard of any depression! – exhort the patient’s relatives and acquaintances.
And he needs the help of a specialist and long-term treatment, otherwise he won’t survive. Nobody thinks about what is fraught with such a spiteful attitude to mood disorders. Remember the sensational case of the German pilot Lubitz, who suffered from depression and intentionally sent a plane with 150 passengers on board into the rocks?
After all, what is happening at this point in the brain like a healthy person – not a momentary surge, and the result of a long, sometimes sluggish process, the presence of which no one paid due attention to. Unfortunately, we are only at the very beginning of the process of recognizing the threatening symptoms of human behavior, which eventually transform into serious mental illness.
What are the symptoms that people close to you can tell you that you are having mental health problems?
The focus should be on a different one. When loved ones notice a change in a family member’s behaviour, it means that the disease has already gone far enough. And it is better to catch it in the beginning. We are very inattentive in nature, even with respect to relatives and friends.
A person is first of all interested in his or her loved one. Therefore, only he is able to identify the first alarming calls. For example, loss of the ability to enjoy the usual things, frequent mood swings, increased anxiety, panic attacks, deterioration of the thought process, a decrease in self-criticism (when everyone is to blame, but not you), inability to notice their own shortcomings.
Also a very important symptom is the lack of ability to plan, to set goals, to go to them consistently, overcoming obstacles. That is, to be responsible for your life. If you start to notice such a thing, contact a specialist. Early diagnosis, timely action can help cure the disease and save your life.