Mental Illness

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Now a days, many myths about the teen mental health illness have become common. Because of these myths, parents and teens either tend to lose hope or blame themselves, which further adds to the fire of the mental health illness. In this article, we have made a humble attempt to introduce you to the possible myths and facts of the teen mental health illness. Myth 1: Folks with mental health illness cannot have productive lives. Fact 1: Mental illnesses are ailments, not a lifetime punishment. Until today, several people have respond well to the remedial measures and coped up with their problems. Although many of the mental illnesses are weakening, they are treatable and ensure a fulfilling life. Famous people like Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Charles Darwin had a mental illness, but they prospered in their lives.

Myth 2: Mental illnesses are uncommon. Fact 2: Mental illnesses are never occasional or rare. As per the survey, almost every Canadian has one of these illnesses directly or indirectly. In case of teens, 1 of every 5 of them in the group of 15 and 24 tend to have a mental disorder or learning disability. Approximately, 15 to 20% Canadian teens have a mental disorder. Myth 3: People with mental disorders do not get normal. Fact 3: Most of the mental disorders are treatable provided it gets diagnosed. Even if they are not 100% curable, they can be kept under control to live a normal life. While taking the treatment for the mental disorder, people do live positive as well as productive lives. It is only in cases of severe illnesses where mental disorders are persistent that the patients might not be able to function as highly as others. Myth 4: Patients of mental disorders are mostly cruel or violent.

Fact 4: Despite the fact that a few patients having a mental illness do unconsciously perform antisocial acts, a mental disorder is not equivalent to violence or criminality. This has been proved medically even though the media always have focused on psychotic serial killers. However, on the contrary, patients of mental illness are least prone to be violent as compared to the general public. But, they are 2.5 times more persecuted and become violent to hurt themselves. In addition, the general public is prone to be brutally victimized by the one who is normal rather than the one who is hit by a mental illness. It is also said that psychiatrist medicines are linked with violent behavior, but this is medically not completely true. In fact, only one drug is often linked with the aggressive behavior – alcohol. Further, also remember that the ideal predictor for future violence is the past criminal records and not mental disorder.

Myth 5: Mental health illness is an outcome of personal weakness or bad parenting. Fact 5: As per the medical research, the major risk factors of mental disorders severe and long time stress (physical abuse) and environmental effects like head injury or birth trauma. Just know that a mental health illness is an ailment just like any other physical illness, not the outcome of a personal weakness. It is up to us to discard the myths, stigma, and misconceptions related to the mental disorders. Myth 6: Treatment for any mental illness is not generally effectual. Fact 6: The efficacy of a treatment is determined by a myriad of factors such as the mental health illness type and the specific requirements of the individual. As per the latest studies, a blend of psychotherapy, psychiatric medicines, and social interventions is the most effectual manner of tackling with the mental illnesses. Myth 7: A mental disorder is the outcome of the daily stresses. Fact 7: It might appear that stress has only caused the mental illness as it is, at times, tough to untie as to whether the symptoms result due to the disorder. But, the truth is that there exists not only one evident cause of the illness. In fact, a mental illness is an outcome of complex

interactions among the genetic, biological, psychological, and social factors. Daily stress mostly lead to demoralization, mental distress, frustration, and emotional upset; however, do not confuse these to be the signs of mental health illness. Remember, stigma, stress, and lack of support actually just exacerbate the state of illness.

Myth 8: Mental illnesses are completely inherited. Fact 8: It is true that a few mental disorders tend to carry a genetic factor that leads to a predisposition toward the disorder among kids and teens. Although it is true that the mental disorders tend to run in families, the illness is also more affected by the environment. So, because any of your family members has a mental illness, it does not mandatorily indicate that even you too will get it. Yes, but you might be at a higher risk. Myth 9: Teenagers never can get depression or mental illnesses. Fact 9: As per Kutcher, a teen is more prone to suffer from several psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder. The U.S. Center for Mental Health Service says that 1 out of every 8 teens has depression.

Youth And Mental Illness
Different kinds of mental illnesses are commonly seen in adolescence and have significant effects on a teen's day to day living. Some of these include: adolescents and depression: Many teens feel down and blue at times, but for some these feelings do not seem to go away but are there day and night. Life can become a chore. These teens may not realize that they are experiencing symptoms of a potentially treatable disease. adolescents and suicide: Suicidal thinking and behaviour often go hand in hand with depression in adolescence. Suicide is the second most common killer of Canadian teens. While some suicidal behaviour may be impulsive, all indicators of suicidal thoughts and actions should be taken seriously. adolescents and anxiety: Many physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomach aches, or a racing heart) can be associated with anxiety in adolescents. Feelings of fear and dread can become so intense that they can keep an adolescent from going to school, from being in a group, and from many activities that would not otherwise be a problem. Anxiety can be tied to a past trauma (for example, a car accident or incident of abuse) or an identifiable source (such as snakes or heights), or present in everything one does. adolescents and risk-taking behaviour: Accidents represent the number one cause of death in Canadian teens. Many accidents can be traced to risk-taking behaviour. Risk taking is a broad category of behaviours that includes: alcohol and substance abuse, unprotected sex, thrill seeking, and delinquent behaviours. Adolescents who engage in one risk-taking behaviour are likely to engage in others. Such behaviours, which can result in real tragedies, are often symptomatic of various mental illnesses. adolescents and eating disorders: Two psychiatric eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia, are on the increase among Canadian teenage girls. They also occur in boys, but much less often. Both disorders are characterized by a preoccupation with food and a feeling of lack of control over aspects of one's life. Teenagers with anorexia nervosa are often perfectionistic but suffer from low self-esteem and an irrational belief of being overweight, regardless of how thin they become. Teenagers with bulimia binge on huge quantities of food and then purge their bodies of dreaded calories by selfinduced vomiting, laxative use, and often excessive exercising. Eating disorders can be fatal. Adolescents with these disorders are typically very good at avoiding discovery. Denying the presence of their problem delays much needed help. adolescents and conduct disorders: Conduct disorders are a complicated group of behavioural and emotional problems in adolescence. These teens have great difficulty following rules and behaving in a socially acceptable way. Their major problem is expressing anger. They are often aggressive to peers and

adults, and may lie, steal, destroy property and be sexually inappropriate. Risk-taking behaviours are common in this group, including the full range of suicidal behaviours. They frequently have contributing problems including school failure and negative family and social experiences. Conduct disorders can co-occur with adolescent depression and attention deficit disorder.

Don't Ignore The Signs
Parents, teachers and friends are usually the first to recognize that an adolescent may be having significant problems with emotions or behaviour. The following signs in your teen, student, brother, sister, classmate or friend might indicate that a psychiatric evaluation will be useful. • marked drop in school performance or increase in absenteeism • excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs • marked changes in sleeping and/or eating habits • many physical complaints (such as headaches or stomach aches) • aggressive or non-aggressive consistent violations of rights of others: opposition to authority, truancy, thefts, vandalism, etc. • withdrawal from friends, family and regular activities • depression shown by sustained, prolonged negative mood and attitude, often accompanied by poor appetite, difficulty sleeping or thoughts of death • frequent outbursts of anger and rage • low energy level, poor concentration or complaints of boredom • loss of enjoyment in what used to be favourite activities • unusual neglect of personal appearance • intense fear of becoming obese with no relationship to actual body weight • uncharacteristic delinquent, thrill seeking or promiscuous behaviour • marked personality change • comments about “feeling rotten inside”, wanting “to end things”, and “no longer being a problem for others soon”

What Does "Help For Mental Illness" Include
The cornerstone of successful help for a mental illness is a comprehensive assessment by a child or adolescent psychiatrist, and/or other qualified professionals who coordinate information from parents, educators, and other relevant sources. Treatment can include psychotherapy (individual, family or group), skills programs (learning, social skills and behaviour) and psychiatric medication, and can be provided in a variety of inpatient, outpatient or day treatment settings, including special schools, residential placements, hospitals, private offices or community clinics. Effective treatments depend upon the strong partnership between patient, family and professionals.

Where To Go For Help
Research shows that teens are most likely to tell a friend about concerns that they have regarding symptoms of a mental illness. Unfortunately, a friend might be a great listener but might not be the best person to get help. You can be a better friend by looking for signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and helping someone you know reach out to some of the following people. • family doctor or paediatrician • teen health clinic • school counsellor or teacher • parent and other family member • psychologist • psychiatrist • social worker • help line • emergency department This brochure was prepared for the Canadian Psychiatric Association by Dr. Simon Davidson and Dr. Ian Manion, Department of Psychiatry, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. The authors wish to acknowledge the "Facts for Families" series, from The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the document's preparation.

What are the most common mental illnesses?
The most common forms of mental illnesses are:

Anxiety disorders - the most common group of mental illnesses. The sufferer has a severe fear or anxiety which is linked to certain objects or situations. Most people with an anxiety disorder will try to avoid exposure to whatever triggers their anxiety. Examples of anxiety disorders include:


Panic disorder - the person experiences sudden paralyzing terror or imminent disaster.


Phobias - these may include simple phobias - disproportionate fear of objects, social phobias - fear of being subject to the judgment of others, and agoraphobia - dread of situations where getting away or breaking free may be difficult. We really do not know how many phobias people may experience globally - there could be hundreds and hundreds of them.


(OCD) Obsessive-compulsive disorder - the person has obsessions and compulsions. In other words, constant stressful thoughts (obsessions), and a powerful urge to perform repetitive acts, such as hand washing (compulsion). PSTD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) - this can occur after somebody has been through a traumatic event - something horrible and scary that the person sees or that happens to them. During this type of event the person thinks that his/her life or other people's lives are in danger. The sufferer may feel afraid or feel that he/she has no control over what is happening.


Mood disorders - these are also known as affective disorders or depressive disorders. Patients with these illnesses share disturbances or mood changes, generally involving either mania (elation) or depression. Experts say that approximately 80% of patients with depressive disorder improve significantly with treatment. Examples of mood disorders include:


Major depression - the sufferer is not longer interested in and does not enjoy activities and events that he/she previously got pleasure from. There are extreme or prolonged periods of sadness.


Bipolar disorder - also known as manic-depressive illness, or manic depression. The sufferer oscillates from episodes of euphoria (mania) and depression (despair).


Dysthymia - mild chronic depression. Chronic in medicine means continuous and long-term. The patient has a chronic feeling of ill being and/or lack of interest in activities he/she once enjoyed - but to a lesser extent than in major depression.


SAD (seasonal affective disorder) - a type of major depression. However, this one is triggered by lack of daylight. People get it in countries far from the equator during late autumn, winter, and early spring.

What Is Anxiety?

For teens or anyone else, anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. Things like tests, meeting new people, speaking in public, going on a date, and competing in sports can make us feel apprehensive. But some teens react much more strongly to stressful situations than others. Even thinking about the situations may cause them great distress. Anxiety can be a good thing when it helps you deal with a tense situation. For example, when you're studying for a test, a little anxiety can make you want to study hard so you do well. But at other times, anxiety can be harmful, especially when it is excessive and irrational, and you're so anxious that you can't focus. Sometimes the anxiety can come between you and your friends, especially when you avoid going out with them or calling them because you're too panicked or tense. That's when you need to do something to feel less anxious, so you can fully enjoy your teenage life.
How Can Teens Cope with Anxiety?

Many teens find ways to cope with the high anxiety they feel. It's important to recognize your emotions, to know what you're feeling and why you're feeling that way. Recognizing the types of situations that cause your anxiety is helpful as well. Sometimes just admitting that a situation is stressful and being prepared to deal with it can reduce your anxiety. If you try these simple measures and still have too much anxiety, getting treatment from a health care professional or therapist is the next step.
How Much Anxiety is too Much?

Here are some of the signs of excess anxiety:

You feel anxious, worried, or afraid for no reason at all. Normally, teens feel anxiety because of something specific -- like a test or going out on a date. But if there's no obvious reason for your feelings, your anxiety level may be too high. You worry too much about everyday events or activities. Some worry is normal. But if you're constantly worrying about things that are not unusual, your anxiety level is too high. When you continually check whether you did something right. While it's normal to check something you did to make sure it's right, continuing to check it again and again is a sign that you have way too much anxiety. When you get panicky in certain specific situations -- like taking tests.

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