How are we feeling about the first part of this series? So far, I have touched on some important points such as mental illness, how the brain functions, and the impact of stress on the brain. For those of you just joining us, this is the second part in the series. To know more about what I previously discussed — please read PART 1 of this blog post https://theayamba.com/apps/mental-health-awareness-with-summer-rachanta-part-1/ . Since we now know what mental illness is, I would like to give you a more in-depth look at the different types of disorders associated with mental illness. The purpose of this is for you to be informed, to help yourself, and to help someone else. A disorder has a negative connotation to it but it simply means there is something that is not functioning the way it is supposed to function in the body. I will touch on some particularly sensitive topics today but brave up and brace up! we’ll get through it together. Let’s take a look at them closely…
PSYCHOSIS: It is an abnormal mental condition characterized by an insane behavioral pattern and thinking. People with psychotic disorder in most cases talk incoherently and they are usually unaware of their behavioral pattern. Psychosis comes with episodes of hallucinations, schizophrenia, agitation and delusions.
SCHIZOPHRENIA: It is a mental illness that causes psychosis. It affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave clearly. It is usually characterized with disorganized speech, and disinterest in daily activities.
DEPRESSION (MOOD DISORDER) : Depression is the most common condition associated with mental illness. It is characterized by persistently depressed mood; ‘mood swings or a disinterest in daily activities’ causing an impairment in one’s daily life. Approximately 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression according to the World Health Organization – WHO.
Type or levels of depression include:
- Major depressive disorder or Clinical depression:- This is the most common form of depression and it causes an impairment in one’s daily life. It is different than just feeling ‘blue’ or ‘down’. Clinical depression is known to be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.
- Persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia:- This is a chronic low-level depression that lasts two years or longer depending on how the brain improves over time. It is characterized with feelings of extreme sadness, low energy and loss of appetite.
- Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder:- The disorder involves episodes of energized moods and is sometimes preceded by episodes of depression. The presence and occurrence of these episodes is what will determine which type of bipolar disorder a patient has.
- Seasonal depression:- Seasonal depression is a type of depression that happens yearly at a certain season. Most people that suffer from this disorder usually experience the symptoms during the Winter. Symptoms include fatigue, depression, hopelessness and social withdrawal.
- Psychotic depression:- A person who is psychotic is usually out of touch with reality. Most times, they experience Schizophrenia, delusions or hallucinations. They also experience physical immobility, insomnia and the constant feeling of worthlessness. Although this is the most severe form of depression, it can be treated promptly by a professional.
- Postpartum Depression:- (Feeling the Baby Blues) is a type of depression that is often experienced by new mothers. Symptoms persists for a duration of 2 to 3 weeks and is usually characterized by loss of appetite, fatigue, lack of sleep — possibly leading to insomnia, and mood swings. If symptoms lasts longer than 3 weeks, this could turn into a major depressive disorder and should be attended to as soon as possible.
NOTE:- New mothers experiencing postpartum depression can be very sensitive and if this condition is not attended to as soon as possible, it could lead to other mental disorders like: eating disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, e.t.c. It is necessary to note that depression isn’t being lazy or something that one can just snap out of. In fact, the condition can continue to go on and progressively worsen over time if treatment is not done and if there is no improvement or change made in the patient’s lifestyle. One’s lifestyle is a major factor that can affect a person’s mental condition.
Symptoms of depression may include:
- Loss of interest in doing things and carrying out one’s daily task
- Low self esteem
- Self-destruction in most cases
- Self-hate or the feeling of being worthless
- Eating disorders (weight loss or weight gain):- This is another type of mental disorder and we will talk about shortly.
Treatment includes: Medication, therapy or a combination of both depending on the severity of the patient’s condition. Research has shown that these treatments brings about an improvement and may normalize brain changes associated with depression.
EATING DISORDER: Eating disorder is another type of mental disorder. However, we must note that one’s ability to eat, apart from its natural factors including; ‘taste, texture, temperature, smell and appearance’, can also be affected by his/her state of mind and what’s going on around them. Eating disorder is an abnormal and irregular eating habit that is unusual. There are mental health conditions that often require professional medical and psychological intervention. In the United States alone, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men have or have had an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Some people overeat when they are stressed or feeling down, leading to weight gain. Sometimes, the reason for overeating could be to suppress the feeling of guilt or as a means of distraction from reality. While some people overeat to deal with stress, depression and anxiety, other people may starve themselves leading to weight loss. The most commonly known eating disorder is ‘Anorexia Nervosa‘ which is known to be the most dangerous eating disorder in society. Albeit, it is dangerous. There are other eating disorders that develop and progressively gets worse over a period of time and are equally as dangerous as Anorexia Nervosa.
Types of Eating disorder
- Anorexia Nervosa:- Anorexia can be very damaging to the body. People with Anorexia Nervosa often limit their food intake or compensate for it through various purging behaviors. This is mostly because they have an intense fear of gaining weight, even when they are severely underweight. Over time, because of lack of nutrient that the body needs to survive and function properly, due to restricted diet, people with Anorexia Nervosa may get stunted growth, drastic weight loss to the point where they are underweight, the thinning of their bones, infertility, brittle hair and nails, and the growth of a layer of fine hair all over the body. In severe cases, anorexia can result in heart, brain, or multi-organ failure. In severe cases, it can lead to death.
NOTE:- It is necessary to note that most eating disorder usually begins with an obsession with food. Although eating disorder has to deal with an obsession with food, it is beyond just food. It can be affected by genetics, brain biology, personality traits, and cultural or social expectations.
- Bulimia Nervosa:- People with this condition usually eat large amount of food in a specific period of time. Most times, they binge eat to the point where it is painfully uncontrolled. They feel like they can not stop eating even though they are full. People with Bulimia Nervosa often use purging methods to get rid of the food/calories that they have eaten or to relieve gut discomfort. Although people with this disorder mostly appear or look healthy, and having a normal body weight, the condition is as dangerous as Anorexia Nervosa. Due to the purging methods used in this condition, it may result to sore throat, swollen and salivary glands. Also, worn tooth enamel, tooth decay, acid reflux, irritation of the gut, severe dehydration, and hormonal disturbances. In severe cases, Bulimia Nervosa can also create an imbalance in levels of electrolytes such as: Sodium, Potassium, and Calcium. This can cause a stroke or heart attack.
- Binge eating disorder:- This is the most common type of disorder but a lot of people do not know about this as an unhealthy habit. It is very common in people who are stressed and depressed. In most cases, people binge eat to while away time or to distract themselves from whatever they are feeling — like a feeling of guilt or shame. People with binge eating disorder usually eat large amounts of food in a short period of time and they do not restrict calories. People with this disorder do not use purging methods to get rid of calories hence, they gain extra weight.
NOTE:- Recently, there has been a lot of campaign and awareness going on about self-love and body positivity. Most people use this as an excuse to stay unhealthy, either by being underweight or overweight. Being overweight is just as dangerous as being underweight. Extra fat present in the body can lead to high cholesterol level leading up to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and musculoskeletal l disorder like osteoarthritis (inflammation of the joints). Some common cancers like breast cancer, endometrial and colon cancer. A healthy weight is usually dependent on a person’s BMI (body mass index) and is calculated by simply dividing the body weight of a person (measured in kg) and the height of that person (measured in meter square) i.e., BMI = kg/m2
- Normal BMI at a healthy weight range is between 18.5 and 24.9.
- A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher is obese.
Most times, a struggle to maintain a healthy weight can cause an eating disorder and some other mental disorder.
- Pica:- Pica is an eating disorder characterized with eating things that are not food. For example dirt, soap, paper, etc. This disorder is most commonly observed in children, individuals with mental disabilities and pregnant women. Pica may increase the risk of poisoning, infections, gut injuries, and nutritional deficiencies. Depending on the substances ingested, pica may be fatal.
- Orthorexia:- Orthorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that involves an obsession with healthy eating to the point where it begins to affect one’s daily life.
- Rumination disorder:- This disorder is characterized with a habit of regurgitating food that has been swallowed to re-chew it and either swallow it or spit it out.
- Purging disorder:- People that have purging disorders often use purging behaviors — such as vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or excessive exercising. This is used to control their weight or shape after eating. Purging methods involve the use of self-inflicted vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics and sometimes, extreme exercises to compensate for whatever food or amount of calories consumed.
- Night eating disorder:- This disorder is pretty much self-explanatory. People with this disorder often eat in excessive amounts at night, usually after waking up from sleep.
NOTE:- People suffering from Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa possibly both use Purging methods to compensate or try to get rid of calories or the food that they have consumed. However, while people with Bulimia Nervosa binge eat, people with Anorexia Nervosa have strict and controlled diets. It is not very easy to tell if someone has an eating disorder by just looking at them as we may know nothing about their lifestyle. The symptom to watch out for is an obsession with food intake.
No one should ever be discriminated for having an eating disorder.
Tips to recovering from an eating disorder: The road to recovery is very rough and not a very easy step. But it is a step forward to improvement, inner peace and self-love. Recovery comes from within. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it is definitely worth it as it is a step to getting your life back on track. Recovery begins when you clear out your mind and reach within to love yourself. Treatment often requires therapy and medications. Most an intervention is also necessary. If you are sure and you know someone that needs help with an eating disorder, an ‘intervention’ is always possible. [Intervention- The act of helping someone who has a problem and needs help but, he/she is in denial of having a problem].
NOTE:- There are certain things that should never be said to someone suffering with an eating disorder:
- Telling someone who has an eating disorder to “just eat” isn’t the way forward.
- You look great/ you look healthy/you look better/ you don’t look sick. These are very tricky comments. It might be said as a compliment but could be passed off as the opposite for people with eating disorders.
- Overall, we must try our best to stop glamorizing or degrading people’s physical stature.
It is important that through it all you learn to love yourself, love and accept others and do the best you can do live a healthy and peaceful life. Thank you for reading. Please share and let’s educate ourselves more on the topic: “Mental Health” in order to improve our lives.
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Written by Rachanta Rach (BSC Biochemistry)
Edited by @ayamba.theblog. Follow us on Instagram for more updates
PLEASE, REMEMBER TO ASK FOR HELP. KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE) – National Hope line Network
- 1-866-488-7386 (1-866-4.U.TREVOR aimed at gay and questioning youth)
- National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Helpline— 1-800-931-2237 or text NEDA to 741741
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders(ANAD) — 630-577-1330
Mental Health Crisis Lines / Suicide Hotlines
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline— 1-800-273-TALK
- Trevor helpline / Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ+ Teens— 1-866-488-7386
- Crisis Text Line— Text HOME to 741741
- Gay & Lesbian National Hotline— 1-888-THE-GLNH (1-888-843-4564)
- IMAlive— online crisis chat
- National Runaway Safeline— 1-800-RUNAWAY (chat available on website)
- Teeline— 310-855-4673 or text TEEN to 839863 (teens helping teens)
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)