Let’s demystify a few things
Mental Health and Mental Illness
What is mental health?
It is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in which an individual can cope with the normal stresses of life. It is not necessarily the absence of a disease or infirmity.
What is mental illness?
To answer simply, it is the term referring to all mental disorders. Mental illnesses are health conditions that involve changes in thinking, emotion or behaviour – or a combination of these – associated with distress or dysfunction in social, professional and family activities.
Major mental illnesses
Anxiety, at its base, is a biological process that warns and protects us from danger. It becomes a mental disorder when it is excessive, persistent and seriously impacts a person’s ability to function. Anxiety disorders are characterized by significant anxiety, worries or excessive fears that seriously affect a person’s daily life.
Borderline personality disorder is characterized by emotional instability. Individuals with this mental disorder have difficulties with impulse control and may show “black and white” thinking. They may also have issues with self-image, identity and difficulty maintaining relationships.
It is a person’s persistent and daily sadness that first allows us to recognize that someone is experiencing depression. The individual feels lonely and desperate, no longer has any interest in relatives, feels lonely and cries easily. The person may also experience significant loss of appetite, resulting in weight loss. Insomnia and general sluggishness in daily activities can also be signs of depression. Depression can make it hard to do simple things like waking up or eating. Symptoms can also include substance abuse, irritability and anger, or a sudden increase in productivity and hyperactivity.
Bipolar disorder – also known as manic-depressive illness, is a medical condition characterized by changes in the way the brain functions. These changes lead to mood disruptions characterized by phases of depression and phases of excitement (mania). The manic phase is recognizable with an extremely optimistic and hyperactive state of mind, or more irritability. These mood swings are so intense that the person does not even realize that he/she is not behaving normally. During the depression phase, the individual is paralyzed with suicidal thoughts. This disorder can lead to family, professional, financial and sometimes even legal problems. It can also lead to hospitalization.
Delusions, hallucinations, disorganized behaviour, confused thinking and speech, indolence, a desire for loneliness and a lack of expression or emotion are among the main symptoms of schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia do not necessarily have all of these symptoms. Many of them can behave ‘’normally’’ for long periods of time. Schizophrenia is a serious, chronic and highly complex mental disorder that affects thoughts, feelings and emotions, as well as the perceptions and behaviours of those living with it.
Psychosis is a temporary loss of contact with reality. It is characterized by confused speech and disorganized behaviour. It can appear gradually or spontaneously, and can be triggered by substance abuse (medication, drugs, alcohol, etc.). A psychotic episode can be caused by schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and drug addiction.
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In mental health, recovery is a unique process for each individual. It involves the development of new meaning and purposes in one’s life as a person moves beyond the sometimes catastrophic effects of mental illness. With the recovery process, the person realizes that it is possible to live a happy life, despite the limitations that come with mental illness.