Individuals suffer at least one or two chronic conditions in their lives. There is diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune disorders, stroke, and even mental health conditions. Nearly one out of four of these people have problems accepting and addressing the situation. With that, there is a restriction of daily physical activities, problem-solving capabilities, as well as limited cognitive use. The developing number of individuals undergoing severe health conditions put an alarm in the medical field. And since mental health issues are the ones that seem to take less of the public’s interest compared to all other chronic diseases, psychologists try to emphasize on it.
According to Katie Willard Virant MSW, JD, LCSW, “To live with chronic illness is to live with a heightened sense of uncertainty. We do not know when our symptoms will flare, if and when our illness will worsen, and whether or how well treatment will work.”
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Perhaps people already know what anxiety is and how it potentially affects each of their lives. But first, it is essential to note that there are different kinds of anxiety disorders. There is social anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, generalized anxiety disorder is the most common and specific type of them all. Its causes are not fully understood. However, it is more likely a combination of both emotional and biological factors. The condition marks excessive worry and fear. “People with this disorder worry about a number of concerns, such as health problems or finances, and may have a general sense that something bad is going to happen. Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems and generally feeling on edge,” C. Vaile Wright, PhD and collaborators note. There is uneasiness that lasts for about six months or longer. The disease manifests both physical and emotional symptoms too. In the emotional aspect, it includes persistent, exaggerated, and unrealistic fear that significantly impacts a healthy life. While on the physiological point, it makes the heart beats faster, breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and there is lightheadedness, nervousness, muscle tension, as well as stomach problems.
Depression is one of the most widely known mental illnesses that seem misunderstood and taken lightly. Its characterization includes lower mood levels and emotional meltdowns. It averts activities that affect a person’s behavior, thoughts, feelings, and sense of well-being. It affects people at any age in various phases of their lives under different circumstances too. It is not well-defined what causes the mental condition to arise. However, studies show a significant relation of the disease to biological processes, personal circumstances, psychological factors, and particular events in life. These include an early life experience such as emotional neglect, trauma from sexual and physical abuse, and even poor parent-child relationship. Depression can manifest in several various signs. “It is a mood disorder characterized by prolonged feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities,” Dina Cagliostro, PhD added. But the symptoms that people should look out for are the feeling of emotionally low all the time, loss of energy and motivation, general lack of interest on things, difficulty in concentration, and self-isolation. Though it targets the emotional aspect more, the physical impact gets no exemption as well. Depression also shows restlessness; it causes sleep problems, loss of appetite, rapid loss or gain of weight, and decreased sexual desire.
Bipolar disorder is a common mental condition that affects a vast number of individuals. It manifests in either type 1 or 2 complications. Individuals with bipolar I have at least one episode of mania. It appears as an elevated abnormal mood partnered with high energy. It alternates with periods of severe depression. However, bipolar II differs due to hypomania and depressive episodes. It contains a less elevated mood. Meaning, it is not as intense as the latter, but it can create an instant shift from being happy and active to sad and dormant. But whatever the types are, the symptoms are almost the same for the two types of conditions. Both of the states include mania or feeling overly happy for an extended period. There is also a feeling of sadness and hopelessness, and it supports extreme fatigues the same as depression. In some other cases, people with bipolar disorder are impulsive and irrational. The cause of the condition is unclear. Unfortunately, it can last a lifetime.
All of these mental conditions are what almost all people are experiencing. With its severity, chances of brain damage get handed on the table. People can expect chronic mental conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
Managing and treating chronic mental illnesses place a significant burden on society and health systems. Its conditions are growing, and tons of people are getting affected by it. So since its presence takes a toll on all of the individual lives, everyone should do something about it. Everybody should raise awareness and understand what these mental health problems can do to the community.