I am back again with Mental Health Awareness and we are almost nearing the end. Hopefully it has been a very educative ride for you all. On my part, I have enjoyed writing this and getting your encouraging feedbacks. This is the third part in the series and if you have not been following us so far, please do. Part one and part two can be found here https://theayamba.com/apps/mental-health-awareness-with-summer-rachanta-part-1/and here https://theayamba.com/apps/mental-health-awareness-with-summer-rachanta-part-2/. We are going to jump right in as we continue to discuss disorders and preventive measures.
Also known as panic attack is a common mental health disorder characterized with the feeling of worry or fear of something going wrong in one’s daily life. Anxiety is a normal feeling to have especially when you are tensed or stressed. Anxiety disorder is an abnormal condition that occurs quite often and in this case, the patient has frequent episodes of fear and panic attacks that can reach its peak within minutes. Anxiety disorder is self diagnosable but treatment should never be done without consulting a therapist, doctor or psychologist.
Symptoms often include:
- In most cases, hyperventilation/rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Sometimes, vomiting or experiencing stomach discomfort.
There are different forms of anxiety disorders but the most common form is Social Anxiety disorder. In this case, the patient experiences social phobia about meeting people due to fear of how he/she may be perceived. There are different causes of anxiety, but there are all due to how the brain processes an information especially when it is under stress.
Some causes of Anxiety disorder may include:
Trauma:- If a person previously had a bad experience or incident, this event is stored as information in the brain. Traumatic incidents could be in different forms, from either being bullied, or having a product of things gone wrong. Trauma (pre-occured incidents) can trigger anxiety because of fear of having the same reports or events occur again. In this case, the thoughts of those traumatic incidents will often bother the person or hinder him/her from carrying out the task on ground.
Stress:- As we discussed earlier, when we looked briefly at how the brain functions under stress, we found out that when a person is stressed, the brain usually goes into survival mode. At this stage, the person is not reaching to the memory panel and all he/she may do is worry and panic until that situation is resolved.
Personality and lifestyle:- This is self explanatory. If a person is raised to be a wall flower, when the time comes for he/she to be heard or seen, there is usually less confidence in that person. Because he/she is not used to the lifestyle of being viewed or heard by the public.
Other mental health disorders like depression, eating disorder, etc. can also cause anxiety. The use of certain drugs, caffeinated drinks and alcohol can also cause anxiety. For starters, caffeine can stimulate the ‘fight’ or ‘survival’ response in the brain hence, it can be bad for people that suffer from an anxiety disorder. Certain drugs have very similar effects on the brain. As we have seen so far, having all these different types of conditions can cause an impairment in one’s daily life.
How can I deal with having Anxiety?
One question that I get asked a lot is, ‘how can I manage my anxiety’…
Well, I used to suffer from social anxiety a lot, trauma-related anxiety, and other forms of anxiety related disorders. I got scared of everything, I still do sometimes, but I have found a much better way to manage it. I remember when I used to have an eating disorder and whenever I had a panic attack which happened a lot, my heart would skip several beats and breathing would become difficult. I can say that was probably one of the scariest moments of my life. I have been through so much when it comes to finding peace with myself. Having depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and trauma related disorder. I became addicted to substances I felt could distract me or take the pain away. I suffered so many other health complications as a consequence. Breathing was hard, I had nightmares, I had sleep paralysis which made me often scared to go to sleep at any time of the day. You may or may not be able to understand the feeling of being trapped and helpless even if it is for a few seconds but it is never a good feeling. Sleep Paralysis is another topic I’d like to talk about as it affects some people who are mentally ill. Most of my friends never really understood the severity of my condition. They thought it was something I could just snap out. Meeting or hanging out with friends did not help my case. Also, it was a difficult task to get me to talk about what was going on. I hated it because I was tired of talking about my feelings. Although talking about your feelings or emotions can help to relieve stress and tension, the most severe cases of anxiety goes beyond ‘talking it out.’ Over the last couple of years, I realized that one of the most important things to do when recovering from a mental illness is finding peace with yourself. It all comes down to that. I am not a psychologist but I can give you tips on how to manage your Anxiety.
The first tip is to take deep breaths whenever you have an anxiety attack. I like to think of it as an exercise that relaxes the mind and calms the nerves of the brain. The second tip is to understand the trigger of the anxiety attack. We must first note that for certain reactions to be processed by the brain, there is always a trigger to those reactions. Ask yourself, why is it so frightening to do certain tasks. Anxiety in some people are triggered by trauma-related causes and in cases like this, I strongly advise that you speak to a professional. You may be asked to talk about the incident that has happened. Medications may be prescribed to you by a health specialist if necessary.
NOTE:– Please, never self diagnose or self medicate. Seek help from a medical professional if you are experiencing any health complications or mental disorder.
Most movies only portray the character of someone with a personality disorder as a man or a woman with an identity crisis. Having an identity crisis is one of the many symptoms associated with personality disorders, psychosis and bipolar disorders. Your personality is your way of thinking and behaving and what makes you who you are. Having a personality disorder doesn’t necessary mean that you completely loose touch of who you are. A Personality disorder is an abnormal or dysfunctional way of thinking and behaving. This type of disorder is common in teenagers and youths. It is not very clear when ones begins to act differently. Most times, we grow into thinking that is who they are.
Types or Forms of Personality disorder:
Paranoid Personality disorder:- People with Paranoid Personality disorder usually show a lot of distrust in people. They are always so concerned or scared that someone is out to get them, or someone close to them is untrustworthy.
Schizoid Personality disorder:- Patients with Schizoid personality disorder are very cold and they usually show little to no interest in social activities or other activities with their partners. Most times, they prefer to be alone instead of having company around them.
Schizotypal Personality disorder:- People with this type of personality disorder usually have beliefs that are not real. In most cases, they believe an incident has a hidden message and they always try to influence others beliefs and practices. Some unique traits to observe in people with schizotypal personality disorder are; a sudden change in cultural practices and beliefs, odd thinking and a unique style of dressing.
Antisocial Personality disorder:- People with this type of personality disorder usually have an impulsive, aggressive and violent behavioral pattern. They usually want things done their way or in favor of them and often disregard the feelings of others. They show no remorse for their actions as if they have nothing to care about.
Borderline Personality disorder:- A borderline personality disorder can occur due to stress, insecurity or low self esteem. People with this disorder have impulsive or unhealthy thinking behavioral patterns. The most common scenario with this condition is where the patient threatens self harm to get what he/she wants, or purposely putting themselves at risk just to get their way.
Histrionic Personality disorder:- In this case the patient always feels the need to be validated. Most times, they are usually out of touch with reality and do not know where to draw the line. They can be shallow minded but, they can be very dramatic as they are very emotional in their feelings.
Narcissistic Personality disorder:- A person with this disorder is usually full of himself/herself and often thinks that the world revolves around them. There is a difference between being confident and being narcissistic. People who are so overly full of themselves usually show no humility and often think that things should be handed to them. Most times, you will see that people with this disorder were never Narcissistic in behavior. Something probably happened that triggered this effect and they grew into this type of personality as a behavioral pattern.
Avoidant Personality disorder:- People with this disorder usually have low self esteem. They are always so scared of criticism or how others see them.
Dependent Personality disorder:- People with this type of disorder have fear of being alone. They have clingy behavioral patterns as they feel like they can not achieve a certain task or goal Independently.
Obsessive-compulsive Personality disorder:- This type of disorder is common amongst most workaholics. They are often very put together when it comes to planning and scheduling activities. They can be very rigid and stubborn about what they want and in most cases, they can be very tight and inflexible about their beliefs and ethics.
Having a personality disorder can cause serious impairment in one’s daily life. If you experience any symptoms, see a psychologist as soon as possible.
PSYCHOSIS :- 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. They come with episodes of hallucinations, agitation and delusions. Psychosis may occur if one is suffering from a mental illness or it could result as a side effect to the use or prolonged use of certain drugs and substances.
Isolation:– At early stages of a Psychotic disorder, the patients slowly starts to isolate themselves from family and friends. They have tendecies to be alone and skip social activities.
Disinterest:- The patient may also lose interest in carrying out different task and things that concerns their well being and psychical state, like showering and caring for their hygiene.
Lack of concentration
Hallucinations:- During psychosis, the patient may often hallucinate and sometimes, they hear voices which aren’t real. Most times, they feel that the voices are out to get them or whoever is speaking to them is trying to send them on a mission. Most times, their hallucinations get worse to the point where they visualize things that are not real. A psychotic person often has strong beliefs especially after episodes of hallucinations.
Delusions:- Most patients with psychotic disorders are delusional. They often believe in things that aren’t real or things that usually do not make any sense.
Some causes of psychotic disorder could be as a result of genetics, the use of certain drugs or substances, and trauma-related incidents. Sometimes, injuries and psychological illnesses can cause psychosis.
Treatment depends on the level or severity of a psychotic occurrence. Most times, doctors might prescribe anti-psychotic drugs to help calm and relieve the patient of whatever symptoms they might be experiencing. The full treatment often requires therapy and lots of love and support from family and close friends.
TRAUMA-RELATED DISORDERS / POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
This is one of the leading causes of most mental disorders. It is an abnormal mental condition that is often triggered by series of flashbacks or thoughts of previous traumatic incidents. Having flash-backs of traumatic incidents that has happened in the past could cause an impairment in one’s daily life and could stop the person from moving forward or trying new things in life because of fear of history repeating itself .
Most symptoms usually begin a couple of weeks after the incident happened and it is advised to visit a therapist immediately after a traumatizing incident like; war, an accident, sexual assault, etc.
Some common symptoms are:
- Feeling numb and isolating yourself
- Having flashbacks of the incidents
- Avoiding talking about the incidents or anything relating to the traumatic incident
- Fear or being terrified (Anxiety)
- In most cases, restlessness and agitation
- Inability to sleep (Insomnia)
- Feeling less or unworthy or not good enough
- Having suicidal thoughts
Treatment often requires:
Therapy:- There are different types of therapy sessions that can help in managing trauma-related mental disorders. Your doctor may advise you to join a social support group where you can meet other people that are experiencing similar incidents. The idea is to talk about what you are feeling and to get you to possibly think better of the world.
Medication:- Certain drugs can be administered to the patient based on whatever symptoms he/she may be experiencing. e.g, prozosin, is known to relieve stress and improve nightmares in patients suffering from insomnia and PTSD. Anti-depressant drugs are administered to patients having symptoms that includes depression and anxiety.
Other routes you can take to improve your condition are:
- At early stage of having a trauma, face it! Do not shy away from it or avoid dealing with it. The earlier you prove the incident wrong, the better. It is a way of letting yourself know that you can escape the hole that the incident has trapped you in. Many people get trapped or stuck living the same nightmares over and over again. This can get really depressing to the point where one loses hope and completely gives up on recovery.
- It is necessary to understand the condition that you are experiencing in order to know how to make adjustments for improvement. Try doing some research to know more about the condition. Also, you can try to speak to people who suffer or have suffered similar trauma-related or post traumatic stress related disorders.
- Isolation is never the solution. I understand that at this point, you may see the world differently or you may think that no one can help you. Recovery begins from within. Also, getting love and support from your close family and friends can be a great step towards finding peace again. At this point, I advise you to surround yourself with people that love and care about you.
- Learn to make better health choices that would improve your condition. At this point, your brain is in survival mode, trying to get through the incident. Hence, you may not be thinking the way you usually would think. You may become vulnerable and open to other mental dysfunctions like, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. I advise that you find a hobby, doing something that makes you feel like a winner, make better living and eating choices and reduce stress levels in your daily 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)