According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the amount of people who struggle with mental issues worldwide is just under one billion. What’s more, that number continues to increase by 8-10% every year. As mental disorders are clearly a common occurrence in the global population, you might be surprised to learn there are still lingering myths about mental illness. With this in mind, here are the top six myths about mental illness and the facts that refute these misconceptions.
Mental illness is a character defect
This is an absolute fallacy. Mental health issues are not born from a person’s character. In many cases, mental illness can stem from family genetics. For instance, anyone who has taken a bipolar depression test may find their test results can be directly linked to members in the family who have also suffered from this condition. In short, mental illness isn’t a personality flaw. These are real conditions that demand real medical attention and/or therapy.
Mental illness is just a state of mind
There are many who believe that anyone suffering from a mental disorder can control their symptoms. This simply isn’t the case. Depending upon what mental affliction one suffers, medication is required to stabilize the condition. Furthermore, people who suffer from depression cannot control their state of mind by sheer willpower alone. In most cases, anxiety and depressive disorders require therapy and cognitive-behavioral techniques in order to cope with the condition.
If someone has a mental illness, they must be crazy
Nothing could be further from the truth. Some people may go through an extreme bout of depression due to the loss of a loved one. Still others may suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) because of childhood trauma. There are condition-based mental states that are manifested from the environment, past history or other triggers such as extreme trauma or abuse. Mental illness is often a response. It is not a state of being crazed.
Mental illness isn’t really a true illness
This is also a myth. The history of mental illness as a recognised medical condition dates as far back as the 13th century in China. This is an era in which patients were classified as legitimately ill if they suffered from mental afflictions, and they were treated with traditional emotional therapies. In the 19th century, German psychiatrist, Dr. Emil Kräpelin set the first standards for psychological and mental disorders which revolutionized the approach to mental illness. In fact, Kräpelin’s work set the stage for the American Psychiatric Association’s first publication which introduced mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) in 1952. Later in the US, mental illness was legally recognized as a true disability in 1995 under the Persons with Disabilities Act.
There is no cure for mental illness
This myth is a little on the fence. In many cases, a 100% cure for a long-term mental illness is not probable. However, there are revolutionary treatments, therapies and innovative medicines that are proving highly effective in treating mental illness patients. In many cases, someone under treatment for mental illness can stand to live happily, normally and healthily. That said, therapy and treatment is likely to be an ongoing process for the patient to achieve wellness and sustained balance.
There is no hope for those suffering from mental illness
This is perhaps the worst and most damaging myth about mental illness. Thanks to advancements in technology and innovative approaches in the mental health field, we are now seeing that there is not only hope – there is tremendous promise for people living with mental illness to live long, happy, healthy lives. From grass-roots approaches such as meditation, yoga and herbal therapies, to modern medicines, and advanced psychotherapy – there are solutions and strategies that provide hope to anyone suffering from mental illness.
Mental illness is a real condition that requires real attention and treatment. If you or a loved one is suffering from mental instability, don’t let these myths deter you from seeking legitimate help. There are professionals all around the world who can assist you or your loved one to achieve homeostasis and wellness in order to live a fulfilled and satisfying life.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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