Mental Illness or Mental Well-being - What do we Know?
Mental illness is a serious medical condition and can strike anybody at anytime regardless of race, age, gender or class. It truly knows no bounds and cares even less. The most common forms in the UK are depression and anxiety. There is not always one defined trigger - it can often be a slow drip drip effect of things that build up over time and creep up on people until one day they realise they are lost in the cycle and cannot get out.
If someone was suffering from cancer you would never say "pull yourself together” or “just get on with it”, we would understand and empathise.
I concede it is sometimes difficult for people to understand what they cannot see, especially when the words used to describe it are used in everyday language like having flu when you just have a sniffle or a cold. We say we are depressed when really we are just having a bad day or feeling down, but true depression is when that feeling is locked in and you can't see a way out. Everything feels hopeless or lost, there is no longer any joy or energy in your world and everything you have to do or think about feels like the biggest effort, like walking through treacle. Even simple tasks like getting up or cleaning your teeth seem pointless and too much effort.
Often you feel there is no one to talk to because you cannot explain or even understand it yourself, so how will someone else?
Then there is the problem of what people will think about you or say about you, the embarrassment and shame - it’s all too much. And the cycle continues to run, pulling you deeper and deeper inside yourself.
Anxiety is a different kind of issue. It can feel like riding a daily adrenaline fuelled roller coaster that you cannot get off, you never know when the start button will be pushed or switched off. With no warning the physical reaction can be immense.
Chest pains, panic attacks, sweats, vomiting, avoidance, agoraphobia, insomnia, phobia, dizzy spells and extreme fear are to name but a few of the symptoms. It can be completely debilitating.
A recent report in the Guardian newspaper quoted some alarming statistics about the growing problem of mental illness in Britain:
1: A quarter of the UK population is currently suffering with some form of mental health issue and each year this figure is growing.
2: One in four adults will experience some kind of mental health problem during the course of a year.
3: 1 in 10 children (10% of all children) are suffering with some form mental health problem and this figure is rising.
4: 9 out of 10 people who suffer with mental health issues will suffer some kind of stigma or discrimination related to this.
5: Men who suffer from mental health issues are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women in the UK.
6: 8% of adults admit to using alcohol to try and deal with their well-being issues - often leading to further problems.
7: Women are much more likely to seek help than men for mental health issues and at a much earlier stage.
If you recognise any of these feelings or are suffering from depression or anxiety - please do not suffer in silence - there are lots of ways to get help.
Contact your G.P. They are much better these days at dealing with mental health/well-being and they won't judge. Talk to someone, anyone - a friend, family member, a counsellor, Samaritans.
Talking really does help.
Related articles from our experts
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- Children and anxiety
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- Anxiety - what can you do about it?
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- Is it grief? Is it depression?
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- Treating depression with talking therapy
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- Depression - how do you recognise it? How is it caused and how to get help?
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