Brain – the only organ in our body where the pain receptors are absent, yet it perceives a wide range of emotional pain. As we have discussed the classification and a few most common mental illnesses prevailing across the globe in the previous blog, let’s see about the common symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, and prevention.
Common symptoms of mental disorders
Even though each mental illness has its own set of symptoms, the commonly shared symptoms are,
- Reduced capacity of concentration
- Feeling sad or numb
- Extreme mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
- Change in eating habits
- Low to no motivation in doing everyday tasks
- Withdrawing from friends and families
- Having trouble sleeping
- Indulging in self harming activities
- Recurrence of delusions
- Physical pain
- Excessive feeling of worry or sadness
Risk factors of mental illness
There are a lot of risk factors when it comes to the occurrence of mental illness, like genetics, environmental factors, drug use, chronic diseases, etc.
A wide range of psychiatric disorders is linked to family history like depression, anxiety, OCD, etc.
When it comes to environmental factors, substances use during pregnancy, maternal stress, premature birth, not being provided with adequate nutrition lead to elevated risks of developing a mental disorder. Social influences like bullying, childhood trauma, physical and mental abuse, neglect, traumatic events, lack of parental warmth, etc are also found to be linked with the onset of some mental illnesses. Nutrition also plays an important role when it comes to mental disorders.
Drugs like caffeine, alcohol, and cannabis have appeared to promote anxiety. There is also a connection between the usage of cannabis and depression. Adolescents are at a high risk of substance abuse, peer pressure being one of the main reasons for the same. Substance use at this particular age could be very impairing to the normal functioning of the brain which could lead to developing a mental illness when they grow up to be an adult.
People dealing with chronic conditions like diabetes are at a higher risk for the development of a mental disorder. This often happens due to the stress related to them trying to manage their disease or condition. The fear of something bad happening to them at any instant of time makes it even worse.
Course of a mental illness
Even though each mental illness has its own course, the onset of mental illnesses usually occurs anytime from early childhood to adulthood. The course of a particular mental illness depends on the social environment, the individual subject, their coping skills, medication, etc.,
Diagnosis of mental illnesses
The psychiatrists provide mental diagnoses of individuals by assessing their symptoms, impairment, and signs associated with a particular type of disorder. The most commonly used diagnostic practice when it comes to mental illness is the mental status examination where the evaluation of behaviour, self-assessment, mental health history, life circumstances are discussed. Sometimes the views of a close family member can also be taken into account.
The testing is mostly done using a questionnaire, either paper and pen or computerized one which includes an algorithm of checking off standard symptoms or diagnostic criteria. Sometimes neuroimaging tests are also required. Time and budget are the two main constraints of diagnosing a mental disorder. Sometimes a subject may be diagnosed with more than two conditions at a time, while others might get diagnosed with a particular disorder that shares its symptoms with a different disorder. This leads to misdiagnosis, where the treatment is done for a different illness rather than the existing one.
Prevention is better than cure!
Prevention of mental illness and disorders
Maintaining proper maternal health could prevent a lot of neurodevelopmental disorders. The mother should refrain from smoking, alcohol, or any kind of substance use. Parenting may affect a child’s overall mental health as everything a kid goes through in their childhood gets reflected later in their adulthood. Creating a safe space irrespective of judgement for the kid will definitely help to develop better-coping skills.
More details about the treatment of mental disorders will be discussed in the upcoming blog!!!