What is mental health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It can be positively and negatively influenced by our life experiences, relationships with others, physical health, work, school and living environment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 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.
Many of us focus mainly on physical health, but mental health is also an important factor in our overall well-being. It is not the same as mental illness, a person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with any mental disorder. Hence, we tend to overlook the existence of poor mental health and its impact on our daily lives.
What is mental disorder?
Mental disorder refers to a recognized, medically diagnosed disorder that cause significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion or behavior. There are many types of mental disorders, and each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.
Our team of mental health experts include both psychologists and psychiatrists to deal with any mental health challenges you may have. Many of us do not have a diagnosed mental disorder but are not in optimal mental health. We may have short periods of blues affecting our sleep or just a sense of not feeling 100%. These are easily ignored and overlooked when we are busy in our daily living. A visit to our mental health specialists will provide you with a peace of mind knowing that early detection and intervention of any mental health challenges mean a speedy and often complete recovery.
Our human brain is made up of physical matter while our mind is not made of material. The mind is an abstract concept and a conglomeration of thoughts, feelings, memories, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors and it is uniqu e individually. Psychology is the scientific study of the mind, how it works, and how it affects behavior. Psychology is not only used to diagnose and treat mental health issues, but also to make decision, understand events, improve relationships, education and employment. Talk to us at GSG to understand more on how we can help you.
Most people experience anxiety now and then and it is a normal reaction to stressful situations. For example, you might feel anxious when taking an exam, preparing for an interview or giving a speech in public. However, if you frequently have sudden intense, excessive and constant fear or worry which does not go away, you might be having an anxiety disorder. There are a few types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and various phobia-related disorders. Some people have more than one type of anxiety disorder. The common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders include sleep difficulties, feeling restless, tense, nervous, weak or tired, breathing rapidly, difficulty concentrating, trembling, heart palpitations, difficulty controlling worry or fear, and having the urge to avoid object or situation that trigger anxiety. There is no clear cause of anxiety disorder, however both genetic and environmental factors can contribute to the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. These factors include traumatic events, stress buildup, medical illnesses, family members with an anxiety disorder, and temperamental traits of shyness or behavioral inhibition in childhood.
Stress is the body’s reaction to any demand or stressor, such as work, school, traumatic events, or major life changes. It affects everyone and in fact some stress is beneficial, and we called it as the stress response, or “fight-or-flight” response, which prepares us to face a threat and to prevent an injury. However, long-term stress can harm our health. Chronic stress can suppress our immune system, reproductive system and affects our sleep and digestion. Symptoms of stress can vary and often vague because everybody handle stress differently, but some of the common effects of stress include insomnia, headache, fatigue, stomach upset, muscle tension or pain, fatigue, high blood pressure, obesity, change in sex drive or more prone to flu or common cold.
There are ways to manage stress, such as getting regular physical exercises, spending time with friends and family, setting goals and new tasks, setting aside time for hobbies, and practicing relaxation techniques, like meditation, tai chi, massage or deep breathing. It is more effective to manage stress using active ways instead of inactive ways such as playing video games, watching television or surfing the internet. Talk to a health professional if you are overwhelmed by stress or your symptoms are not improving even after you’ve taken steps to manage your stress.
Everyone feels sad or depressed at times, but these feelings are usually temporary and are normal response to loss and life’s struggles. However, if the symptoms present nearly every day for at least two weeks, the person may have depression. Depression or major depressive disorder is a common but serious mood disorder which can affect the way you think, feel and behave leading to various emotional and physical problems. The cause of depression is mostly unclear, but several factors may be involved, such as physical changes in the brains, hormonal changes, or inherited traits. Depression can happen at any age, and often starts in the teens, 20s or 30s. Many factors can increase the risk of triggering depression, including traumatic or stressful events, family history of depression, history of mental health disorders, serious or chronic illness, unsupportive environment, certain medications and certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem or self-critical.
Not everyone with depression will experience the same symptoms, they vary in terms of severity, frequency and duration of the symptoms. Common signs and symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, emptiness or hopelessness, irritability, anxious, loss of interest or pleasure in most normal activities or hobbies, feeling of worthlessness or guilt, thoughts of death or suicide, unexplained aches and pains, and sleep disturbance, such as insomnia or oversleeping. Depression is a serious disorder and can affect a person’s normal daily activities, work, school and their family. Several complications associated with depression can occur if no appropriate treatment is given. These complications include suicidal feelings or attempts, family or relationship conflicts, reduced school or work performance, alcohol or drug abuse, self-mutilation, social isolation and pain or physical illness. However, depression is not weakness, and with proper diagnosis and treatment, majority of people with depression will overcome it.
Ever wonder how our brain receives information and processes them? These are achieved by mental processes known as cognitive functions. Cognitive functions allow us to gather information, through listening, reading, watching, or paying attention to things around us. Cognitive functions enable us to understand and interact with the world, and to complete everyday tasks. These functions include memory, language skills, attention, visual perception, decision making and problem solving. However, a condition known as dementia can cause impairment of cognitive functioning, interfering with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia is caused by damage of cells or neurons in the brain. Various disorders or conditions that can lead to development of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, infections, immune disorders, nutritional deficiencies, and brain tumors. The symptoms of dementia vary depending on the area of the brain that’s affected. The common signs and symptoms include memory loss, trouble communicating, difficulty reasoning or problem solving, difficulty with planning and organizing, personality changes, depression, hallucinations or inappropriate behavior.
Psychosis is a set of symptoms of mental illnesses that occur when a person loses contact with reality. The person may have trouble understanding what is real and what is not, including seeing, hearing or feeling things that don’t exist and having false ideas about what is taking place or who one is. Although these experiences can be disturbing and scary, it is possible to achieve improvement and recovery with earlier detection and treatment.
Psychosis can be found in many conditions, primarily in people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe stress or anxiety and severe depression. Some medical conditions can also cause psychosis, such as HIV and AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, brain tumor, syphilis, hypoglycemia or multiple sclerosis. Besides, alcohol or drug misuse can also trigger a psychotic episode. In general, there are four main symptoms associated with a psychotic episode, including hallucinations, delusions, confused and disturbed thoughts or lack of insight and self-awareness.
Hallucinations – A person sees, hears, smells, tastes or feels things that are not there.
Delusions – A person has false belief in something untrue, such as belief that a supernatural entity has a special relationship with oneself, belief that oneself or loved ones being followed or stalked, or belief that they are a celebrity or someone with high power.
Confused and disturbed thoughts – A person with disturbed, confused, and disrupter patterns of thought. They can show disorganized thought and speech or rapid and constant speech.
Lack of insight and self-awareness – A person who are unaware that their delusions or hallucinations aren't real, which may lead them to feel frightened or distressed.
Someone with psychosis does not mean they are psychopath. Most individuals with psychosis do not cause harm to others and more likely self-harm. And with proper treatment, they can often lead to full recovery. A psychopath, however, carries an anti-social personality which can be violent and sometimes pose a threat to others.
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. People with bipolar disorder experience severe emotional highs and lows, which differ from the typical ups and downs most people have. These two extremes are known as mania/ hypomania and depression, and they can disrupt function in daily life, cause negative impact on relationships, work or school performance. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally and usually starts in teens, 20s, or 30s. The cause of this condition is often unknown, but it is believed to be associated with genetics, stress and brain structure or function.
In bipolar disorder, the symptoms and severity vary, some people can have four or more episodes in a year while some may not have any symptoms for years. A person who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder have at least one manic episode and one depressive episode during their lifetime. People in a manic episode typically experience extreme happiness, hyperactivity, extreme agitated, exaggerated self-confidence, unusual talkativeness, racing thoughts and decreased need for sleep. There is another episode called hypomania, is a less severe manic episode and people who are affected often function well in social situations or at work. In depressive episode, affected individuals can feel very sad, down, hopeless, empty, and have suicide thought. They usually have marked loss of interest in all or almost all activities, and experience sleep problems such as insomnia or sleeping too much, feel fatigue, decreased ability to think or focus, and have unintentional weight loss or weight gain. Despite the mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don’t realize the impact of the condition on their lives and fail to get the necessary treatment. And this condition doesn’t improve on its own and usually worsens if left untreated. However, many people with bipolar disorder can live well if they adapt to a good treatment plan.