For decades, physical health and various illnesses of the body have been discussed extensively. But mental health problems have come into the limelight only for the past few years. In this article, we will discover mental health problem types, symptoms, causes, and effects.
Mental health is as important as physical health for a person’s overall well being. The World Health Organization recognizes the importance of psychological well-being, defining health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
Mental health problems can be defined as a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior. So, it is important to know the types, symptoms, causes, and effects of it.
Types of Mental Health Problems:
There are many different mental health problems, and some of them also have similar symptoms. So, it is possible that a person is diagnosed with multiple mental health conditions at one time. Some of the common mental health problems experienced are:
- Depression: Depression is when a person’s mood feels low for a considerable amount of time. So much so that his mood starts to impact his everyday lifestyle and activities negatively. Depression can make a person feel hopeless, worthless, exhausted and guilty, and can also affect his sleep, appetite, and self-esteem.
- Anxiety problems: Anxiety is a feeling of extreme worry and tension. It can be in the form of generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety or post-traumatic anxiety disorder.
- Schizophrenia: This is a medical condition categorized by a lack of interest in everyday activities, difficulty concentrating and hallucinations.
- Personality disorder: Personality disorder is a type of mental health illness in which a person’s attitude and beliefs cause problems in his/her everyday life.
- Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is a type of mental health condition majorly affects a person’s mood, that is, it fluctuates between feeling extremely high or manic to feeling extremely low or depressed.
Symptoms of Mental Health Problems:
Just like physical illnesses, mental health problems manifest through many symptoms. These include unexplained mood swings, lack of control, decreased socializing and becoming delusional. These symptoms can be more effectively categorized according to age groups.
1. Symptoms in adults and teenagers
- Sadness and irritability
- Chronic depression
- Excessive and unexplained mood swings
- Extreme anxiety
- Excessive fears and worries
- Decreased socializing
- Feelings of anger
- Frequent confusion when thinking
- Suicidal thoughts and
- Drug and substance abuse
- Inability to keep up with daily activities
- Drastic changes in eating or sleeping habits.
2. Symptoms in children
- Fear and outbursts of anger
- Poor appetite
- Frequent negative mood
- Defiant behavior
- Involvement in theft and vandalism
- Changes in managing responsibilities at home and in school
- Changes at the academic and overall performance at school
- Thoughts of death
- Frequent tantrums and outburst
- Persistent nightmares
- Worry and anxiety
- Showing aggression
In most cases, mental health problems do not cause any physical symptoms. Conditions like depression can, however, indirectly cause weight loss and fatigue.
Causes of Mental Health Problems:
Mental health problems can be caused by a variety of factors, and for many people, it can be caused by a combination of these factors. Some of them include:
- Chronic stress and anxiety
- Experiencing loneliness for an extended period
- Losing a loved one
- Social isolation
- Losing your job
- Drug abuse
- Domestic abuse and violence
- Childhood abuse
- Suffering neglect as a child
- Poverty and debt
- Trauma such as military combat
- Physical causes such as head injuries and some neurological conditions.
Many studies have also shown that mental health problems tend to run in families. For instance, a person whose parent was diagnosed with schizophrenia is more likely to develop the same mental illness.
At the moment, sufficient evidence does not exist to pinpoint the reason for this. It may be due to genes or related to other factors such as the environment in which the child is brought up, thinking ideas and behavior that is observed and learned from the parents.
Moreover, some research also suggests that there may be a link between mental health problems and the composition of chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, in our brains. There is no strong evidence to support this theory, but some links can be established by the fact that certain medications prescribed for mental health problems work by acting on chemicals in the brain.
Effects of Mental Health Problems:
Mental health problems can have significant effects on a person’s life and wellbeing. Such illnesses also have an impact on the families and communities of the person with the diagnosis. It is essential to analyze and understand the effects of mental health problems so that current mental health care systems can be improved and expanded.
Effects on the patient: Individuals diagnosed with mental health problems are at a higher risk of having a lower quality of life and economic productivity.
Moreover, the person may also experience poverty, difficulty obtaining education and social isolation. Studies have shown that individuals with mental illnesses are less likely to complete high school and pursue a college degree than their peers.
Effects on families: The families of patients diagnosed with a mental disorder can also experience chronic stress when caring for them. Moreover, they may have to miss out on work to provide additional care, leading to lesser economic productivity and lower household income. Families may also experience social isolation.
Effects on society: Mental health problems, especially when left untreated, can have great costs for society. Majorly, these are costs to the economy. According to a study by the World Health Organization in 2001, it is estimated that mental health problems cost developed nations between three and four % of their GNP (gross national product).
Moreover, when mental illness expenditures and loss of productivity are both taken into account, the WHO estimated that mental disorders cost national economies several billion dollars annually.
It is crucial that a person must not ignore and accept his/her symptoms of a mental health problem. Friends and families should also provide love and support and encourage the person to receive treatment.
Moreover, the World Health Organization recommends that governments and private health sectors of countries work on establishing and adopting more extensive and preventive mental health programs. Such programs will help reduce the negative impacts of mental illnesses on patients, their families, and their communities.