The general state of how you govern your behaviour, feelings, and thoughts is mental health. Mental health encapsulates psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Many people suffer from mental health issues at times. When persistent indications and symptoms create regular stress and impair your ability to function, a mental health condition becomes a mental disease.
Mental illness can make you unhappy and cause problems in your daily life, such as school, work, or relationships. This article extensively covers mental health conditions, recognizing them, and the activities you can engage in to improve your mental health.
Types of Mental Health
Mental health disorders alter the way you think and behave. Some of the most common mental include:
In the U.S., 4.7% of adults aged 18 and over have been reported to have depression. Depression affects millions more globally. It’s a mood disorder that causes sadness and loss of interest.
There are different types of depression:
Atypical depression – Is a specific kind of depression characterized by mood reactions, weight gain, and excessive sleep, also known as hypersomnia.
Situational depression – Also known as stress response syndrome, this type of depression is usually caused by a sad event in your life such as divorce, death of a friend or family member, or losing your job.
Psychotic depression – A mood disorder that causes sadness and hopelessness. Some symptoms of psychotic depression include hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. This type of depression is dangerous as it causes the victims to be suicidal.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – Also known as seasonal depression, this disorder starts in winter and ends in summer. It’s related to lack of enough sunlight, which explains why it’s hardly found in countries with enough sunlight. People with SAD always feel cranky, hopeless and suffer from insomnia. The unique feature of SAD is that it happens simultaneously every year.
Persistent Depressive Disorder – Depression that lasts more than two years is known as Persistent Depressive Disorder. It’s a continuous form of depression that presents symptoms such as loss of interest in daily activities, lack of productivity and low self-esteem, and irritability.
2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
It’s a mental disorder found mainly in children. Children with ADHD experience differences in brain activity and development. They struggle to pay attention or stay still.
Symptoms of ADHD
Children with ADHD can show the following signs:
Hyperactivity – They are always active and find it hard to sit in one place. They keep fidgeting and interjecting others, sometimes inadvertently.
Impulsiveness – They act before thinking. They don’t wait for their turn to do things and overreact to situations.
Short attention spans – They are easily distracted and have trouble staying on a task. Due to their short attention spans miss out on essential details and lose track of their thoughts.
3. Bipolar Disorder
Extreme mood swings characterize bipolar disorder. The person experiences highs and lows, which switch rapidly within a few days or weeks. Although the leading cause of the bipolar disorder is unknown, genes and altered brain structure may contribute.
Possible Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Two sets of symptoms exhibit bipolar disorder; Manic and Depressive.
Depressive phase – During this phase, a person may experience the following:
- Feeling hopeless
- Loss of appetite
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feeling sad
Manic phase – Manic phase has the following symptoms:
- Impulsive behavior
- Inability to sleep and hyperactivity
- Seeing and hearing things that don’t exist- hallucinations
- Uncontrollable thoughts and unrealistic behavior
4. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is caused by traumatic events such as war, natural disasters, and sexual abuse.
Possible Symptoms of PTSD
Altered Anxiety (Hypervigilance) – The person is always looking for danger. They feel anxious and look over their shoulder often.
Mood changes and isolation – They always feel the need to protect themselves from the world, which leads to isolation and later depression.
Avoidance of reminders – People with PTSD try to steer clear of anything that could remind them of their traumatic event.
Internal reminders – Are intrusive episodes where a person feels as if they were going through a traumatic event again. These feelings are accompanied by the perception that the event could happen again.
5. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
This disorder is characterized by unreasonable thoughts, fears, and compulsions that interfere with daily activities.
Types of OCD
Common types of OCD include:
- Order and symmetry
- Checking and rechecking
- Intrusive thoughts
Symptoms of OCD
Obsessions: Repetitive, involuntary thoughts that are not pleasurable, e.g., contamination.
Compulsions: Repetitive behaviours like washing and counting to achieve a sense of completeness.
How to Recognize Mental Health Concerns in Others
Although each mental health condition presents different symptoms, some common signs cut across the board.
These signs include:
- Difficulty relating to others
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Overeating or a lack of appetite
- Drugs and alcohol abuse
- Suicidal tendencies
- Excessive fear
- Uncontrollable mood changes
- Irritability and unexplained anger
- Excessive feeling of sadness
- Inability to deal with daily problems
- Excessive anger or violence
- Lack of sex drive
- Physical ailments such as back pain, stomach pain, and headaches with unexplained causes
How to Recognize Mental Health with Yourself
Don’t dismiss a feeling that something isn’t quite right. When you don’t feel like yourself for an extended period–say, one month, it’s time to rethink your mental health priorities.
While it’s difficult to pin down exactly how it feels, it could show up as one of the indicators of a mental health problem listed below:
Experiencing anger, a feeling of frustration, and extreme mood swings is a sign that your mental health is craving for attention. If you’re more reactive than usual, you should take action to safeguard your mental health.
- Loss of interest
If you find it hard to enjoy activities that made you happy before, that’s a cause for concern. For instance, if you used to enjoy watching or playing soccer then, suddenly lose interest, then something is not correct.
- Poor sleep pattern
Are you having trouble falling asleep or even staying asleep? That could be a tell-tale sign that it’s time to give your mental health attention.
- Low energy levels
If you feel sluggish and have a hard time finding the energy to get out of bed, you need to consult your doctor. Fatigue, low energy, and inability to concentrate are signs of an underlying mental health problem.
- Physical pain
Some mental health conditions such as depression can cause physical symptoms like headache, increased heart rate, muscle tension, and gastrointestinal issues.
How to Be Mentally Healthy and Happy
Mental health starts with you. The following tips will put you in control of your mental health regardless of life’s challenges:
Manage your level of stress
You can achieve this by learning new techniques such as time management. Time management aims to strike a balance in life. Effective time management helps you feel more relaxed and focused. When you manage your time well, you keep your stress levels in check, which leads to a happy state of mind.
Get sufficient sleep
Sleep plays a massive role in the overall health of your mind. 7-8 hours of sleep is what your body requires to rest fully. To avoid any thoughts that might disrupt your rest, plan out the next day before bed. That way, you go to bed with a clear mind devoid of distractions.
Regular exercise boosts your mood and is especially helpful to people with mild depression. Any form of exercise helps your body to release feel-good chemicals. To enjoy the full benefits of exercise, you should do at least 100 minutes of moderate workouts every week.
Ensure you have a balanced diet to enhance brain efficiency and raise your self-esteem. Limit your alcohol consumption as well.
Being positive is the secret ingredient to raising your self-esteem. Treat yourself well as you would treat a good friend—utter positive words towards yourself. Enjoy activities that make you happy, something that you’re good at. It’s good for your emotional well-being.
Activities to Improve Mental Health and Happiness
Below are some activities that you can engage in to improve your mental health:
Engaging your mind in enjoyable activities at home is relaxing. It can also lead to the discovery of new things. Sudoku is a word puzzle game that keeps your mind active while learning new words. Sudoku requires abstract thinking when trying to create words, which significantly improves your brain. Alternatively, you can fill in crossword puzzles or play video games. Any indulging game improves mental health.
Yoga is an ancient practice that involves deep breathing and physical poses. Yoga is widely known for improving concentration, reducing stress, and enhancing flexibility.
Other known benefits of yoga include:
- Reducing anxiety
- Improving sleep
- Improving mood
- Increasing blood flow
It’s an excellent pass-time activity that you can do at home with loads of benefits.
Aerobics is a cardiovascular exercise that includes activities like swimming, cycling, brisk walking, and running. This type of exercise improves fitness but also boosts emotional health.
How to Get Additional Support
Seeking support is the first step towards recovery. It’s usually hard to decide whether you should handle things yourself or seek help.
There are different ways of seeking help. Some of them include:
Talking to friends and family
Talking about your feelings is not a sign of weakness. It’s the acceptance that you have a problem that requires their help to solve. Family and friends can provide a shoulder to lean on whenever you feel mentally unwell. Seek out that one friend you trust and open up. It gives you a sense of relief, especially if they show empathy towards you.
Look for groups in the online community that share the same condition. By doing so, you eliminate the feeling of loneliness. You also find like-minded people who provide ideas on managing mental disorders.
Although excellent mental health is likely to help protect against the development of many conditions, it is not merely the absence of diagnosable mental health issues but the ability to perform critical functions of the brain.
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