Surviving Spirit

Understanding Mental Illness


A healthy human being needs to be healthy both physically as well as mentally. We often come across terms like depression and anxiety, but we never know how it happens? What is a mental illness? How does it occur? How to prevent ourselves from mental illness?

The main question is: What is mental health? Mental health may be defined as functioning at a satisfactory adjustment level of emotions and behaviour. In simple words, mental health is psychological well being. Around 450 million people are suffering from mental illness worldwide. According to WHO, mental disorder affects one in four people in the world.

Most common mental disorder are:

  • Clinical depression
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

These are some few common mental disorder which is affecting millions of people around the world every year.


Depression is a mental disorder characterised by persistent loss of interest in daily activities which is associated with thoughts of suicide.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excess sleep or insomnia
  • Early awakening
  • Displaying uncharacteristic emotions
  • Confusion
  • Use of nicotine and alcohol more than normal
  • Complete social isolation
  • Thinking of harming oneself

Causes of depression:

  • It may occur genetically
  • Childhood trauma
  • It may occur due to life events like divorce, work issues, relationships with friends and family

Treatment for depression:

  • Therapies:-
  •            1.Psychotherapy
  •            2.Behaviour therapy
  •            3.Cognitive behavioural therapy
  •            4.Music therapy
  • Drug treatment(use of antidepressants)
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Consult to specialist

Anxiety disorder

It is a mental health disorder characterised by feelings of worry or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities.

There are 4 types of anxiety disorder:

  1. Panic disorder: You feel the terror that strikes at any time. During a panic attack, you may also sweat, have irregular heartbeats which lead to chest pain. Sometimes you may feel like you’re choking and having a heart attack.
  2. Social anxiety disorder: It is also known as social phobia as you start feeling worried and self-consciousness about everyday social situations.
  3. Specific phobias: You feel intense fear of any specific object or situation, such as heights or flying.
  4. Generalised anxiety disorder: You start feeling excessive and unrealistic worry and tension of no reason. It is a very common type of anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of anxiety:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Shortness of breath and having irregular heartbeats
  • Nausea and feeling of dizziness
  • Cold, sweaty and numb feet or hands
  • Not being able to stay calm and still

Causes of anxiety disorder:

The cause of anxiety disorder is still unknown. But it is like other forms of mental disorders, they stem from a combination of things, including changes in your brain and environmental stress. The disorders can also run in families through genes and could be linked to faulty circuits in the brain that controls fear and other emotions.

Treatment for anxiety disorder:

  • Self-care like stop consumption of alcohol, quit smoking, daily physical exercise, etc.
  • Can go for therapies like Cognitive behaviour therapy, psychotherapy and meditation
  • Use of medication like antidepressant and sedative
  • Consult to specialist


In the present world, mental illness has become an important issue as it can be compared to cancer and other major diseases in the world. But still, people are ignorant and unaware about it. Mental illness has a high rate of mortality when left untreated. Most of the people do not complain of feeling depressed, but rather they are suffering from depression. So all of us should remain alert and aware of mental disorder and should have a free talk with our family members about this issue. There are several methods to avoid mental illness that are effective. An appropriate history, physical, initial basic lab and mental status evaluation can assist the physician in diagnosing the patient. In India, an organisation like AASRA(a Mumbai based mental health NGO) has done some tremendous job in helping people with a mental disorder. Like this many other organisation are also giving their best to help people and trying to create awareness among people about mental health. But it is also our duty to create awareness about it by having an open discussion with family, friends and people who are close to us.