What is Mental Health?


Mental health refers to a person's psychological, emotional, and social well-being.  Mental illnesses affect a person’s mood and how they feel, act, and think.  These conditions deeply impact day-to-day living for the people affected by them. A person's mental health is important at every stage of a person's life, from childhood to adulthood.

There are many different mental health disorders, but the World Health Organization has highlighted the following disorders below: 
  • Depression: Depression is a common mental disorder and one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Globally, an estimated 264 million people are affected by depression. More women are affected than men. Depression is characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, tiredness, and poor concentration. Depression can be long-lasting or repeatedly occur, prohibiting people’s ability to work, go to school or perform day-to-day tasks. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide. 
  • Bipolar Disorder: This disorder affects about 45 million people worldwide. It typically consists of manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. Manic episodes involve elevated or irritable mood, over-activity, rapid speech, inflated self-esteem, and a decreased need for sleep. People who have manic attacks but do not experience depressive episodes are also classified as having bipolar disorder. 
  • Schizophrenia and other Psychoses: Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder affecting 20 million people worldwide. Psychoses, including schizophrenia, are characterized by distortions in thinking, perception, emotions, language, sense of self, and behavior. Common psychotic experiences include hallucinations (hearing, seeing, or feeling things that are not there) and delusions (fixed false beliefs or suspicions that are firmly held even when there is evidence to the contrary). The disorder can make it difficult for people to work, go to school or perform day-to-day tasks.
  • Dementia: Worldwide, approximately 50 million people have dementia. Dementia is usually chronic (long term) or progressive (gets worse over time), in which a person's ability to process their thoughts gets worse faster than expected from normal aging. It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgment. Dementia is caused by various diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease or stroke.
  • Developmental Disorders: Developmental disabilities are a group of disorders that affect the development of children. They can be caused by different things, including genetics, environmental factors, and other medical conditions. Developmental disorders appear in early childhood or infancy but may not be noticed until they interfere with daily activity.
    • Examples of common developmental disorders are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Cerebral Palsy (CP), Intellectual Disability (ID), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and other Learning disabilities.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety is a normal stress reaction and can be beneficial in some situations. It can alert us to dangers and help us prepare and pay attention. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable with several effective treatments available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.   
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a severe accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape, or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or severe injury.  A diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to a traumatic event. However, the exposure could be indirect rather than first-hand. For example, PTSD could occur in individuals learning about the violent death of a close family or friend. It can also occur due to repeated exposure to the horrible details of trauma, such as police officers being exposed to the details of child abuse cases. To learn more about PTSD, you can visit the American Psychiatric Association Website.  

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