What is mental illness?

Health Watch, Normal

“MENTAL Illness” is a general term that refers to a group of illnesses, in the same way that heart or kidney disease refers to a group of illness affecting the heart and kidney. Episodes of a mental illness can come and go in periods through people’s lives.
Some people experience their illness only once and fully recover.
For others it recurs throughout their lives.
Most mental illnesses can be effectively managed and treated.
Even though we know that many mental illnesses are caused by a physical damage to the brain, we do not exactly know how it got triggered.
As we stated above stress may trigger some mental disorders.
Those people who have mental illness often suffer a great deal of disturbance and are frightened by their illness.
Patients do feel rejection and discrimination.
We as citizens need to remember that a mental illness is no different to a physical illness. Mental illness can be classified as psychotic and non-psychotic illness.


Psychotic illnesses
A psychosis is a condition caused by any one of a group of illnesses that are known or thought, to affect the brain causing changes in thinking, emotion and behavior.
Psychotic illness includes schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness.
During this psychotic illness, people see the world differently from normal, people with psychosis may develop false beliefs; guilt; they may experience hallucination where they see, hear smell, taste or feel things which are not here.
These people need effective medication and support to lead them to achieve productive and rewarding lives.


Non psychotic illnesses
Everyone has experienced strong feelings of depression, sadness, tension or fear.
In some people’s feelings can become so disturbing in coping with daily activities.
 These groups of mental illness are called non-psychotic mental illness.
Some examples are phobias, anxiety, some form of depression, eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, physical symptoms involving tiredness or pain.
In most non-psychotic illnesses, it can be effectively treated.

Some common questions about mental illness are:
I. Are mental illnesses a form of intellectual disability or brain damage?
No. They are illnesses just like any other-diabetes, asthma, heart and kidney diseases

II. Are mental illnesses incurable and lifelong?
No. When identified and treated appropriately, they fully recover. Some mental illnesses may need ongoing treatment like diabetes and blood pressure. A mental illness can come and go in people’s lives. Some people have only one episode and recover completely.

III. Are people born with a mental illness?
The causes of mental illness are unclear. Some mental illnesses can run in the families. Many factors contribute to the onset of a mental illness.


* Dr Uma Ambihaipahar is the Principal Advisor Social Change & Mental Health Consultant Psychiatrist.