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Understanding Mental Illness

Mental Illnesses are brain-based conditions that affect thinking, emotions, and behaviors. Since we all have brains – having some kind of mental health problem during our lives is really common.
There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness and the 6 most common health problems are :

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Personality Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Eating Disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Mental illnesses may be caused by a reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances, or a combination of these. With chronic diseases, mental illnesses are often physical as well as emotional and psychological.

What is Stress?
Stress can be defined as our mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions to any perceived demands or threats. We “Stress Out “For two major reasons:

When we perceive a situation as dangerous, difficult, or painful. Or we believe, we don’t have the resources to cope.

Not All Stress is Bad…

Distress
Stress is defined as, “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension,” and, “a situation, occurrence, or factor causing this.” The word “stress” actually comes from a Latin word meaning, “distress.” The word “stress” actually comes from a Latin word meaning, “distress.” Stress can be difficult to pin down because it is a very individual thing. For me, public speaking is very stressful – but it may be one of your great joys in life. Since stress is different for everyone, your approach must be personalized, too. Typically, we interpret stress as a negative thing, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Eustress” means stress with a positive effect. It was coined by psychologist Richard Lazarus in 1974.
How can stress be positive, you ask? Think of the emotional strain caused by these positive events:
Winning a race, being a new parent, riding a rollercoaster , in these situations, the physical, mental, or emotional strain actually produces positive emotions, rather than the negative emotions usually associated with stress. One can argue that without distress or eustress, life would be a pretty boring ride!
State of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress is called burn out. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home and social life.
Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu.

People with perfectionist tendencies; nothing is ever good enough. Pessimistic view of yourself and the world. The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others. High-achieving, Type A personality are more prone to experience burn out

Working too much without enough time for relaxing and socializing. Being expected to be too many things to too many people. Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others.
Not getting enough sleep. Lack of close, supportive relationships are some of the examples of lifestyle causes of Burnout

With proper care and treatment many individuals learn to cope or recover from a mental illness or emotional disorder.

Let me suggest three main ways to approach stress.
It is important to remember that you have a choice! You can choose to:
• Alter the situation or your approach to it.
• Avoid the situation.
• Accept the situation.

Dealing with stress
Adopt the three “R” approach
a. Recognize – Watch for the warning signs of burnout
b. Reverse – Undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support.
c. Resilience – Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health.

a.1 Create a Stress Log
A stress log can help you identify your major stressors, and it can help you identify trends in those stressors. Identifying the cause of stress can help you reduce the number and impact of stressors in your life, and it can help you manage the stress that does occur.
b. 1Find a support system
Find someone to talk to about your feelings and experiences
2. Change your attitude
Find other ways to think about stressful situations
“Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we react to it.”
3. Be realistic.
Set practical goals for dealing with situations and solving problems. Develop realistic expectations of yourself and others.

c.1 Get organized and take charge
Being unorganized or engaging in poor planning often leads to frustration or crisis situations, which most always leads to feeling stressed.
2 . Take breaks, give yourself “me time.”
Learn that taking time to yourself for rejuvenation and relaxation is just as important as giving time to other activities. At minimum, take short breaks during your busy day.
3. Take good care of yourself.
Eat properly, get regular rest, keep a routine. Allow yourself to do something you enjoy each day.
Paradoxically, the time we need to take care of ourselves the most, when we are stressed, is the time we do it the least.
4. Learn to say “no.“
Learn to pick and choose which things you will say “yes” to and which things you will not. Protect yourself by not allowing yourself to take on every request or opportunity that comes your way.
5. Get regular exercise.
Exercising regularly can help relieve some symptoms of depression and stress, and help us to maintain our health.
6. Get a hobby, do something different.
For a balanced lifestyle, play is as important as work.
7. Slow down.
Know your limits and cut down on the number of things you try to do each day, particularly if you do not have enough time for them or for yourself. Be realistic about what you can accomplish effectively each day. Monitor your pace. Rushing through things can lead to mistakes or poor performance. Take the time you need to do a good job. Poorly done tasks can lead to added stress
8 . Laugh, use humor. Do something fun and enjoyable such as seeing a funny movie, laughing with friends, reading a humorous book, or going to a comedy show.
9. Learn to relax. Develop a regular relaxation routine. Try meditation, or some simple quiet time.

Relaxation Exercises
There are many different kinds of relaxation exercises, some of them are:
1.Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is an excellent relaxation tool that can be adapted for almost any situation. It also has some physical benefits, including: Reduction in blood pressure, Reduction in muscle tension, Boost in metabolism, Clearing of the mind and boost in endorphins (our natural painkillers)

The basic technique is just like it sounds: slowly breathe in through your nose, and then breathe out through your mouth. Try counting slowly as you do this. Each breath should take ten to twenty seconds. (You will be able to take longer breaths with practice.)
When you are in a stressful situation, it is easy to unobtrusively deep breathe to keep yourself cool. This will also help prevent some of the harmful physical effects of stress, since stress causes us to breathe faster, making our bodies work harder.

2.Visualization: Visualization is a nice way of giving our minds and bodies a “mini vacation.“

3.Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a deep relaxation technique that has been effectively used to control stress and anxiety,
Progressive muscle relaxation is based upon the simple practice of tensing, or tightening, one muscle group at a time followed by a relaxation phase with release of the tension.
If you have a few moments to yourself, sit down, close your eyes, and spend a few minutes deep breathing. Deep breathing can also be used in conjunction with picturing your sanctuary or stretching.

When you hug someone, oxytocin (also known as the “cuddle hormone”) is released. Oxytocin is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress.

4.Aromatherapy has real benefits for stress relief—
it can help you to feel energized, more relaxed, or more present in the moment. Emerging research suggests certain scents can alter brain wave activity and decrease stress hormones in the body. Research consistently shows that coloring can have a meditative effect.

5.Create Art Work:
Evidence that anxiety levels decline in people who were coloring complex geometric patterns, making it a perfect outlet for stress reduction.

 

Dr. Aamerah Shah – MRCP, MRCGP, DRCOG, DipCard.
Specialist Family Medicine
American Hospital Dubai

 

PakistanAssociationDubai

PakistanAssociationDubai

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