Mental health has wide ramifications but in its basic form refers to emotional, behavioral and cognitive well being. It purely depends on how any person thinks, behaves and feels about life in general. Mental health is often used to denote an absence of any mental disorders too. It is a crucial aspect of life and plays a major role in daily life, relationships and well-being and physical health.
A person’s perfect mental health also includes the capability to enjoy life, achieve a balance between the many activities that need to be performed and attain a certain degree of psychological resilience.
There is no standard definition of mental health but what is given in the Medilexicon’s medical dictionary comes closest. It says that mental health is –
“Emotional, behavioral, and social maturity or normality; the absence of a mental or behavioral disorder; a state of psychological well-being in which one has achieved a satisfactory integration of one’s instinctual drives acceptable to both oneself and one’s social milieu; an appropriate balance of love, work, and leisure pursuits.”
Again, according to WHO (World Health Organisation), mental health is –
“… a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” It further stresses that mental health “is not just the absence of mental disorder.”
Common mental health disorders can be categorized as anxiety disorders, mood disorders and schizophrenia disorders. These will now be studied in some detail.
- Anxiety disorders – This is the most common form of mental disorder where an individual suffers from severe fear or anxiety from objects and situations and tries to avoid them. These include panic disorders, and phobias about them. Obsessive compulsive disorder is when a person has an urge to perform repetitive acts without any apparent reason. It might be repeated hand washing or any other activity.
- Mood disorders – This is often referred to as affective disorders or depressive disorders. Patients having this issue have wide ranging mood swings, from elation at one point of time to manic depression immediately after. Major depression can lead to total disinterest in things that were previously very enjoyable or the patient might face extended periods of extreme sadness.
- Schizophrenia disorders – This is a highly complex disorder and is known to affect people as young as 15 to 20 years of age when they find it difficult to process even simple information. The positive symptoms include thought disorders, delusions and hallucinations while the negative ones are lack of motivation, inappropriate moods and withdrawal signs.
There are various options for treatment of mental health disorders depending on the issues faced by individual patients. What works well for one may not for another even though the disorders and the symptoms might be the same. The general form of treatment for mental disorders are medication, psychotherapy and self help that includes lifestyle changes, lowering alcohol intake and sleeping and eating well.