Myths of Mental Illness
In February 2013, Annie Powell was the victim of a manic episode which lasted 72 hours. Annie was only 35 and she felt as if she was a Superwoman: energetic and productive. However, once this manic episode came to an end, Annie suffered from deep depression. She sat in the basement and continuously stared at the wall for several hours.
Everybody in Annie’s family was startled by the distant and blank looks that Annie had on her face. She was taken care of by her mother and a psychiatrist was also called for help. Post-intensive care, the doctor recommended bipolar II.
This was a type of bipolar disorder where an individual experiences depressive lows and manic highs. Annie was on Lamictal, a medicine used for treating bipolar disorder. Post this, she felt like a completely transformed person.
Her diagnosis was a blessing for her and she had her chemical imbalance leveled out. Annie said that she had come up with her very own self-care devices. These devices were quiet time, exercise and healthy eating.
Annie Powell’s story proves the fact that it is quite possible to thrive and survive past a diagnosis. Around 20% American adults are likely to suffer from mental illness at any point of time in life. This has been stated by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Mental health conditions in people can range from short-lived and mild depression to serious schizophrenia. Serious schizophrenia might require lifelong medication and hospitalization. Mental illness is quite common in people of almost all ages. However, there are some myths and prejudices persistent and widespread among people. Here, we will have the myths debunked.
Myth No.1: It is easy to get rid of mental health conditions
It is not very easy to get rid of mental health conditions. It is not magic irrespective of the fact that whether it is severe or mild. This idea is damaging and pervasive. This is because it makes unreasonable expectations for an individual suffering from mental problems. This has been stated by Nelson Freimer. He is the M.D and psychiatry professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Amy Marlow aged 33, heard people saying that mental health problems could be easily tackled. This made her struggle to get rid of her severe anxiety and depression on her own. She said that people were of the view that she was not depressed. There was no reason for her to be depressed. This is because she had good friends and a good job as well. Things were also going well for her. For a very long time, Amy tried working harder with the hope of getting rid of her depression. However, her efforts went in vain.
People might take mental illness in the form of a character or personality flaw. However, this is not the case at all. It has been found by researchers that there are many factors contributing to mental illness. These include biochemical imbalances in the human brain, hormonal changes coming with pregnancy, genetics and childhood abuse.
Myth No. 2: Mental Illness means you lose the ability to work
To some extent, this is true as the people with severe mental illness cannot work in an active manner. However, there are people who can successfully manage their mental health conditions and be successful at work.
Liz Norton, senior system manager in mental health advocacy organization suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder when she was just 20. At present, during her 30s, she has controlled her condition with cognitive therapy and medicines. She is completely open with her company about her mental illness.
In spite of the fact that the federal law forbids employers from discriminating employees with mental disability, discrimination still prevails. Studies have evaluated the fact that employees who are open about their problem might face discrimination. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the situation very carefully.
Myth No.3: Mental Illnesses result in violence
There is a very big gap between evidence and our perceptions. This has been stated by Jeffrey Swanson. He is a behavioral sciences and psychiatry professor and Ph.D. at the Duke University School of Medicine. There are common headlines regarding mass shootings by individuals with mental illness.
Polls evaluate the fact that people with mental problems are likely to be violent. However, the reality is that people suffering from mental disorders are in no ways violent. Only around 3% to 5% of the violent acts are committed by people with mental problems. Researchers are of the view that people suffering from mental problems are victimized by violence.
There are different factors that cause violent behaviors in people and it is not only mental illness. Being male and young increases the chances of being the cause of a violent act.
Myth No.4: Complete recovery from mental illness is not possible
There are many people who are able to cope up with mental problems and never experience them again in life. However, there are others with severe mental disorders. These people are also able to cope up with their mental problems successfully and can live happily. They are able to live like normal people, the ones with diseases like diabetes.
Recovery from mental illness is generally dependent on the mental illness type. The age of the victim and other important health conditions also play an important role in recovery. Recovery rates tend to be high in people suffering from mental illness.