Each year about one in 25 adults experiences a SERIOUS mental illness that leaves them permanently physically damaged (SAMHSA Survey, 2018).
Mood disorders are the most common cause of hospitalisation for all U.S. citizens under age 45 (HCUP – Fast Stats, 2015).
And yet, the stigma and the shame connected to mental illness still remains significant. While man has landed on the Moon, performed complex key-hole surgery and created robots, when it comes to mental health, progress seems to flow slower and weaker.
The term hysteria was coined in ancient Greece. Back then, only women could be hysteric, since the mental symptoms were originated by a misplacement of the uterus, hystera. Things have changed a bit since then, but unfortunately not enough.
We might understand diabetes, and the necessity of taking insulin, but struggle to understand bipolar disorder and the potential need to take lithium. Yet both are symptoms of a malfunctioning body.
On average, people wait 11 years before seeking help after the first onset of mental illness symptoms (Wang et al., 2004). Yet we’ll run to the doctor at the first symptoms of the flu!
Let’s take a quick look at ‘The Big Three’
More than 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide (World Health Organisation, 2019). That’s almost as many people as inhabit the worlds 4th most populous nation – Indonesia.
Depression is a mood creating persistent feeling of sadness, and loss of interest in the external world. Symptoms can include: tiredness, loss of sex drive, reduced interest leisure activities, changes in eating patterns or sleeping habits, weight gain or weight loss, lack of concentration, mind fog, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, idealisation of suicide or suicidal attempts.
Note: the extreme sadness we might naturally experience when dealing with difficult life moments doesn’t necessarily equate to depression.
Anxiety is "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes such as increased blood pressure" (American Psychology Association, 2019). While we may regularly experience anxiety before an important meeting for example, anxiety disorders are different.
These include: panic attacks, social anxieties, phobias and ‘generalized’ anxiety disorder.
The broad set of common symptoms can include: muscle tension, dizziness, nausea, increased heart rate (tachycardia), sleep problems, panic, fear and nervousness. Let’s face it, who hasn’t ever experienced some of that?
The main symptom of bipolar is the fluctuation between extreme euphoria, mania, or excessively upbeat mood and a major, negative, depressive state. These mood oscillations can be extremely severe but can stabilise between peaks. The living reality for Bipolar affected people is similar to perpetually going up and down on a roller coaster.
During the manic phase the sufferer feels strong, omnipotent, and often in denial of their illness. They can become aggressive, excessively self-confident, speak rapidly and get excited by bizarre ideas. In the depressive phase they may experience insomnia, fatigue, changes in eating patterns, irritation, anxiety, physical pain and extreme ineptitude. Hallucinations, delusions, hearing or seeing things that aren’t there, explosive anger and other symptoms may occur in some people.
If not treated carefully, bipolar disorders ruin relationships, careers and lives.
COSTS TO HUMANITY
Depression and Anxiety are so highly prevalent and such disabling disorders that they create not only unacceptable volumes of human misery and lost health, but also gigantic losses in economic output. The cost to the global economy in terms of productivity lost to Depression and Anxiety is estimated to be $1 trillion each year (Chrisholm et al., 2016). Funnily enough that pretty much equates to the GDP of Indonesia too.
The Big 3 are only the most common mental illness and disorders. Later this month we’ll explore more. If you’re interested in a particular topic or disorder, please be in touch.
Remember. Everybody hurts. Never be ashamed to share your feelings or symptoms.
Nowadays there is more support than ever before to overcome mental illness. Take your first step now.