Hundreds of millions of people worldwide are affected by mental, behavioural, neurological and substance use disorders. About 877,000 people die by suicide every year. In addition, one in four patients visiting a health service has at least one mental, neurological or behavioural disorder but most of these disorders are neither diagnosed nor treated. For example, estimates made by WHO in 2002 showed that 154 million people globally suffer from depression and 25 million people from schizophrenia; 91 million people are affected by alcohol use disorders and 15 million by drug use disorders.
Mental health is how we think, feel and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad or stressed sometimes. But with a mental illness, these feelings do not go away and are severe enough to interfere with your daily life. It can make it hard to meet and keep friends, hold a job or enjoy your life.
Mental illnesses are common – they affect about one in five families in the U.S. It is not your fault if you have one. These disorders – depression, phobias, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and many others - are real diseases that you cannot will or wish away. Fortunately, they are often treatable. Medicines and therapy can improve the life of most people with mental illnesses.
There are many reasons for a temporary disturbance to mental health. Some are are well documented -- dereavement, divorce or moving house, while others may be less obvious.
1. A reaction to immediate life events
The death of a loved one, the birth of a baby, the loss of a job, a serious accident or illness will throw most people, at least temporarily, off course.
Overwork, interrupted sleep, isolation, racism, sexual harassment, difficult, demanding or violent relationships all cause stress. Some stress is useful, but if we have too much to cope with, we may 'breakdown' under the strain.
3. A reaction to past life events
Children tend to submerge or suppress memories of particularly traumatic events, or simply create a new explanation for the event, that makes the pain explicable. Buried pain may come back to haunt us in ways we find hard to recognize, affecting the way we feel and behave and making us more vulnerable to stressful life events.
4. A biochemical imbalance
Some mental health problems may be biochemical in origin. It is hard to tell whether this is genetic or whether exposure to harmful life events has caused a kind of biochemical reaction similar to the effect of an allergen on someone susceptible to allergies.
Mental illnesses affect and are affected by chronic conditions such as cancer, heart and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Untreated, they bring about unhealthy behaviour, non-compliance with prescribed medical regimens, diminished immune functioning, and poor prognosis.
Labels: Common Causes of Mental Illness