5 Myths about Mental Illness Exposed:What Are the Facts

People can suffer from mental illness in different ways, and with mental illness, there is no straight-forward explanation.Many factors add up to the development of these disorders, however they can be difficult to determine from the symptoms presented at the time.

For example, people have different responses to anxiety. One may be easily irratible, while another may be withdrawn and unsocial. These varied responses make diagnosis difficult. Simply, it is hard to make sense of something you can’t easily point out.

A lot of misunderstanding has grown because of this.

Those who don’t suffer from a mental disorder may wonder if mental illness is actually a real ailment, and if so, why someone who is otherwise healthy has a different response to everyday stressors than them. This is easy to do when one can do this with no problem.

However, it is important to understand why someone who struggles with mental illness has trouble doing the same things as someone without one. Here are 5 myths surrounding mental illness and those who suffer from it.

1.Depressed people are just lazy.

Walking into an appartment of a depressed friend and looking around at a dirty place may make you think that your friend is just being lazy. That they just don’t want to clean. However, they probably have been thinking about cleaning for weeks.

People who suffer from depression are willing to work. They want to be successful in life like everyone else. However, they just do not have the same energy and motivation they once did.

Low energy is a symptom of depression.
“Broadly defined, symptoms of fatigue can affect physical, cognitive, and emotional function, impair school and work performance, disturb social and family relationships, and increase healthcare utilization”(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3225130/). As you can see, one doesn’t willingly choose not to fulfill their everyday responsibilities. Rather, fatigue overtakes the mind and body of the depressed.

People are not simply inactive because they choose to. Once their illness improves, many people will find they can be more productive.

2. Anxiety prone people are just “emotionally weak” people.

The sensitivity to the stress that many anxious carry may cause them to be viewed as weak. However, this is not so. Rather, the sensitivity is a result of a learned way of thinking, not a weakness.

“Support for the hypothesis that stress plays a role in the development of anxiety sensitivity comes from a brief longitudinal study of adults in which high levels of reported anxiety during a period of heightened stress—basic combat training for military recruits—were related to increases in anxiety sensitivity over 5 weeks” ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2881589/).

Anxiety is not the result of an easy upbringing or “being weak”, as some would say. Often, it is a result of cumulative bad events in one’s life.

It is not easy to get over. Anxiety often has physical symptoms that accompany it, such as loss of breath and increased heart rate. It is not a chosen state of mind; rather, it’s a physical reaction to a stressor.

3. Mentally ill people are abusive.

Mood swings and the irritability that affect some that have a mental illness lead many to believe they are violent and abusive. This is not the case.

” Nothing in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM 5) states that a mental illness solely causes a partner to be abusive in a relationship; however, there are a select few diagnoses that can increase the risk of abusive patterns to show up in a relationship and in other areas of life. Mental illness tends to impact all areas of a person’s life, such as work, interactions with friends, family engagement and personal relationships “(https://www.thehotline.org/2015/05/06/abuse-and-mental-illness-is-there-a-connection/).

Though mental illness can cause conflict in relationships, they are often not abusive. ”
Most individuals with psychiatric disorders are not violent”(https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/mental-illness-and-violence

4. Real mental illness is rare.

Many people believe mental illness is rare and that it does not affect that many people. But in fact, it is quite common.

“Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year”(https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers). If each person has a twenty percent of becoming mentally ill in a given year, imagine the likelihood of that person becoming mentally ill sometime in their life. The chances are pretty high. And if mental illness runs in your family, the chances are even higher.

” Epigenetics affect how a person reacts to environmental factors and may affect whether that person develops a mental disorder as a result. Epigenetics is not constant over time” (https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages/Inheriting-Mental-Disorders.aspx). This means the original gene changes over time. But, it is usually already determined how the gene will change, based off how relatives of the person respond to the enviroment around them.

So, before you think mental illness can’t affect you or a loved one, consider how likely it is to occur, especially if it is in your genes.

5. Mental illness is for life

If you were recently diagnosed with a mental disorder, you may think you will always have that disorder. But, fortunately, there is a good chance of recovery. If you seek and receive treatment, that is.

This can be seen in schizophrenic patients. “Among people with schizophrenia who receive treatment, approximately 25 percent experience good recovery and 50 percent show improvement over a 10-year period, meaning that, in contrast to neurodegenerative disorders, 75 percent are better in the long-term”( https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2015/mental-health-awareness-month-by-the-numbers.shtml).

While complete recovery may be difficult to achieve, it is not impossible.

If you are having problems getting well with your current treatment, it is not that you are incurable. Simply, that treatment is just not working with your disorder.

For example, shock therapy has a much higher success rate than medication.
“According to Weeks, medications have a success rate of 50-60% of patients getting better, while ECT succeeds at a rate of 70-90% “(https://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/postings/2017/02/ect.php). While medicine does not always work, shock therapy works for most conditions most of the time.

So, it is crucial that someone who suffers from mental illness does not give up during treatment but to be aware of all their options and push through any difficulties they may have along the way.

Myths arise when there is little understanding, and with mental illness, it is no different.

Mentally ill people are not weak or lazy-they are just suffering from a disorder that affects many areas of their life. Mental illness is common, but there is always a chance of recovery.

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