The invisible illness
The illness that no one can see, mental health. Everyone has their ups and downs, but no one can see or imagine how low and secluded a person can become when fighting their own demons. Whatever the cause – we should all unite to support and reduce the number of people suffering daily. In this blog we’ll be discussing the top 3 mental disorders, how to recognise them, what they are and how to help.
Mental health illnesses have been increasing in numbers over recent years and we all need to be aware of them. It’s important that we all know what the common symptoms and causes are for each disorder so we can help our loved ones, or even a stranger, to overcome what they are experiencing.
The number one illness on the list, affecting more than 300 million people worldwide and the main cause for over 800,000 suicides per year.
If you know anyone with the following symptoms, let them know you care and are there to listen. Accept them as they are, without judging them. Gently encourage them to help themselves – for example, by staying physically active, eating a balanced diet and doing things they enjoy.
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities. You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
- Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping.
- Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
- Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- Reckless behaviour. You engage in escapist behaviour such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
- Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
- Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
As with depression, anxiety is another mental illness that numbers have rocketed with. Having over 250 million people globally diagnosed with the condition.
You can support and help people with anxiety by being as reliable as possible, asking if there is any way you can help, encourage them to try new things and encourage them to add some sort of exercise into their life.
Symptoms to watch out for:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Although Bipolar disorder is not as common as the previous two, it is still a serious mental illness that needs to be supported. There are close to 50 million people affected by this disorder worldwide.
There are multiple ways to help someone who suffers with bipolar disorder, you can do this by learning as much as possible about the illness, try to reduce stress in their lives, being understanding about what they are going through and being patient with them.
If your worried about someone who you think is bipolar, look out for the following symptoms:
There are three main phases of bipolar disorder:
Bipolar I Disorder (mania or a mixed episode)
- Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic OR extremely irritable
- Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities or powers
- Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
- Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up
- Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
- Highly distractible, unable to concentrate
- Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
- Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences
Bipolar II Disorder (hypomania and depression) & Cyclothymia (hypomania and mild depression)
- Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Physical and mental sluggishness
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleep problems
- Concentration and memory problems
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide
These are just three of the top mental illnesses that have been diagnosed around the world, but there are many more. If you see someone acting differently to how they normally behave, comfort them make them laugh and be a good friend! For more information on how to support people with mental illnesses follow the link provided below.