Myths and Facts about Mental Illness
Experiencing mental health problems - particularly in the initial stages- is often upsetting, confusing, and frightening. In many ways, mental health issues are just like physical health problems that anyone can have and need to take care of. Of late, mental health is being addressed on a larger scale. But due to the stigma associated with mental illness, a lack of awareness, and limited access to professional help, only 10-12% of patients will seek help given the many myths surrounding mental illness.
Here’s a look at 5 myths about mental illness that need to be addressed:
Myth: Mental illness is a sign of personal weakness
Fact: Just like any other disease, mental illness can happen to anyone. It has nothing to do with the person being lazy or weak. In fact, several environmental and biological factors often contribute to mental health issues. Trauma or a history of abuse, family history of mental health problems, and biological factors such as genetics, physical illness or injury are responsible for mental health issues. People suffering from mental health issues can get better and many recover completely.
Myth: People are “faking it” or doing it for attention
Fact: No one would pretend to have a physical illness, so why would anyone pretend to be mentally ill? Although the specific symptoms of mental health conditions may not always be visible to the untrained eye, it does not mean that they do not exist. The causes and resultant symptoms of mental illness are widely studied and are attributed to certain causes and triggers. It can be challenging to relate to people with an existing mental health condition, but that does not mean that their condition is not real.
Myth: People with mental health problems are a lost cause
Fact: This is far from true. More than any treatment, having a support system is intrinsic to getting better after being diagnosed with a mental health problem. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need. Treating mentally ill patients with respect instead of labelling them on the basis of their diagnosis is a crucial step towards helping them.
Myth: Having a positive attitude can cure depression
Fact: Depression is not something that you can will away. Often, people have this misconception that if a person is depressed they need to just “be positive” or try their best to “shake it off”. Depression is not simply a feeling of sadness, but a serious medical condition that affects the biological functioning of the body. Cognitive therapy and medications can help address the underlying symptoms and causes of depression.
Myth: You don’t need therapy. Just pop a pill instead.
Fact: Many people often resort to sleeping pills and other modes of self-medication to cope with their mental illness. When it comes to treating mental illness, there is no right way to recovery. Often a patient will be put on medications depending on their condition. However, in most cases, a person will need a combination of therapy and medication to overcome their illness. Instead of self-diagnosing and self-medicating, it is best to seek professional help to help determine the best treatment plan.
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