Do you know that despite the fact that we live in the 21st century, there is still a significant stigma attached to mental illness? The derogatory term mentally ill is often associated only with the most serious conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Do you know that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM, actually lists a wide range of psychiatric conditions including everything from primary insomnia to nicotine dependence? Yet, most people would never regard someone who’s been having trouble sleeping for the past month, or a 2-pack-a-day smoker as having a mental disorder, now would they?
Do you know that mental disorders are quite prevalent and affect far more people than we might think? Some disorders, like acute stress disorder, last for only a few days to a few weeks and then subside. Others recur, which is often the case with disorders like major depression. But some, like schizophrenia, can last for a lifetime, even with treatment.
Do you know that despite all the advances of science, we still don’t know exactly what causes the vast majority of mental disorders? In most cases it is believed to be a combination of factors.
Do you know that the traditional treatment for most mental disorders usually involve psychotropic medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both? Lifestyle changes, such as getting regular exercise, practising meditation and/or yoga, using relaxation techiques, making dietary changes, or taking certain supplements are also often beneficial to some degree.
Do you know that we’ve made significant progress in the past century with regard to our understanding and treatment of mental/brain disorders? It wasn’t really that long ago that individuals with serious mental illness were treated inhumanely.
Do you know that we still have a long way to go and much to learn? Hopefully there will come a day when mental illness will be truly understood. Advances in science will allow even those on the most severe end of the spectrum to live happy lives with treatment, or better still, to be cured from their illness entirely.