Why do mental illness occur?

Mental illness usually result from a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors which are difficult to predict. Also some risk factors such as severe psyhological stress, cannabis use, some medical illness are known to trigger the mental illness.

Is mental illness curable?

Almost all of mental illness are treatable, if not curable. Sometimes however a patiebt may require indefinite? Lifelong treatment to keep the disease in control just like in diabetes or hypertension.

What is the risk of my children having a mental illness?

Most of the mental illness carry some genetic risk which varies in different illnesses, howsoever it does not mean that your child will suffer from the same although he/she may have some risk of doing so.

Will I get addicted to these medication?

Antidepressants and antipsychotics are not addictive. Some antianxiety medications do have an addictive effect, but if taken as prescribed by the psychiatrist, there is no dependence risk.

SOME COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DEPRESSION:

  1. Can depression be attributed to a particular cause or an incident in one’s life?

Ans-  In certain cases the depressive symptoms or the syndrome of depression may be directly linked to an identifiable life event and can be seen as a cause-effect relationship. However in most cases the syndrome of depression is a combination of biological-psychological and social variables in various forms and stages of causation, and a direct causal relationship with an event may be difficult to establish.

  1. if so, what sort of cause could this be?

Sociological, or genetic etc.?

Ans. The life events or circumstances may be a predisposing, precipitating, or perpetuating factor for depressive syndrome. Predisposing factors  make an individual more vulnerable to suffer from depression (some common examples of predisposing factors can be an underlying medical illness, lack of social support, social isolation, personality deficits, genetic predisposition etc).   Precipitating factors are variables which are temporally related to onset of symptoms, and are clearly an identifiable factor leading an individual to depression.(Common examples of precipitating factors relational difficulties, examination failure, financial losses etc). Perpetuating factors are the variables which hinder the recovery from depression or reinforce depressive symptoms leading to illness chronicity. (These factors may be continued family difficulties, uncontrolled medical illness, substance use etc.)

Depression can be envisaged as a Bio-Psycho-Social disorder where genetic, hormonal, structural and functional brain related factors have a strong interplay with psychological and social factors like marital difficulties, abuse, bereavement, personality factors, coping etc.

 

  1. Does physical health have the potential to deter your mental health?

Ans. Yes, physical health and illness are intricately related to mental health and illness. A sick body is unlikely to house a healthy mind and vice versa. Physical illnesses like diabetes, Hypertension, stroke, heart attack, thyroid disorders, anemia etc are strongly related to adverse mental health, and this is not just due to psychological consequences of suffering from a physical illness but the internal changes in functioning of the mind and body. Similarly poor mental health can lead to physical health impairments like weight loss, lower immunity and repeated infections, migraines, asthma etc.

 

  1. how much have we progressed when it comes to medicines for depression?

Ans. A tremendous amount of scientific progress has been made in the area of medication for depression. Highly effective medication with minimal side effects are now available for treatment of depression. From times where tranquilizers were the only options available, we have today reached an era where we have specific medications to target selective symptoms of the depressive syndrome at our disposal.

  1. Is mediation helpful/ effective for all?

Ans. Medication for depression is used in most of the patients successfully. Howsoever, some patients may benefit best from a combination of medication and psychotherapy/counseling and a section of patients may require only a psychological intervention. The decision whether to use medication or a psychological intervention or a combination of both is made after a comprehensive assessment on case to case basis.

6.Do people who are caring for a person with depression also require therapy or a sort of sensitization towards the subject etc.?

Ans. Yes the persons who are caring for a person suffering from depression do need to be sensitized to the nature, extent and treatment of illness, along with the limitations it poses on the individual and themselves. Being prepared for the difficulties and challenges the illness brings along, will not just help the patient recover well but also gear up the caregivers to enhance their skills and keep themselves minimally affected through a difficult period.

7. how do we diagnose depression? Is expert opinion the only qualifier?

Ans- depression is a clinical diagnosis and does require an expert opinion for a formal diagnosis. Howsoever, Since depression is a common mental health illness, and a very important public health concern, all of us must be aware of the symptoms of depression, and be able to identify someone with possible depression around us enabling us to help a loved one to the best of our abilities(which may also include motivating a person to seek professional help).

8. should mental health be viewed the same as physical illness? Is that the right approach?

Ans- definitely,  a mental illness should be paid equal emphasis as a physical illness and treatment should be sought accordingly. Research over the years has objectively proven that mental illness are characterized by functional changes in the brain which are observable and measurable, just like in any physical illness. However what is commonly seen is that mental illnesses are viewed as not an illness but as a result of moral weakness or lack of resilience. The shame, guilt and stigma attached to mental illness makes it a hidden epidemic and equal emphasis as for physical illnesses will help remove these barriers.