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The Mind Matters

7 months ago / by Akila Jagan

To keep it healthy, we need to discuss the problems that plague it

Stressed girl before a computer
Stressed girl before a computer. Shutterstock

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of deaths in those between 15 and 29 years of age, according to the World Health Organization. And, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, about one in five adults have experienced symptoms of mental illness. Untreated mental illness and poor mental health also can affect our physical health.

People rarely discussed mental illness in the past. When it came up, it was cast in harsh light. That view has colored the views of people to this day, especially the older ones. While discussed more openly today, many people still shy away from it, due to unawareness, stigma, or beliefs based on misinformation. This is why it’s important to talk openly about mental health. We should teach others about it and normalize its symptoms so that people do not feel alone in their journey.

The Many Faces of Mental Illness

Often, people believe that anxiety and depression are the only ways mental illness can manifest in people. That is not true. Mental disorders can address mood, eating, psychosis, personality, post traumatic stress (PTSD), addiction, obsessive compulsive behavior, sexuality, and, as mentioned earlier, anxiety and depression. Within these broader categories lie more disorders. Mental illnesses appear differently in each person as they are generally a result of personal trauma, genetics or unhealthy habits and behaviors. That said, people that have the same diagnosis may have similar symptoms.

The Big Lows

According to the CDC, about 42% of people deal with anxiety and depression making them the most common mental illnesses. Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include uncontrollable overthinking, difficulty making decisions, irrational continuous worrying, restlessness, fatigue, sweating, and tension in body parts. Clinical depression affects one’s mood, causing us often to lose interest in activity and feel low throughout the day. Other symptoms are tiredness, unhealthy sleep patterns, slowed brain movement, migraines, negative feelings and emotions etc. Bipolar disorder is another common disorder , wherein people exhibit inexplicable and overwhelming shifts in mood.

Eating disorders are illnesses that associate the eating with distress and negative emotions. Anorexia nervosa is only one of many types of eating disorders. Others include binge-eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, etc. Common symptoms are abnormal eating patterns and behaviors and distressed emotions surrounding food and eating.


Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, paraphrenia, are illnesses that distort one’s thinking. Common symptoms are hallucinations, disorganized verbalizing, difficulty in apprehension and more.

Untreated personality disorders often affect the patient’s relationships with themselves and others. This is because inflexible attitudes and unhealthy behaviors are part of these disorders. Borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial disorder are examples of this.

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, follows a traumatic experience. This could be sexual assault, deaths of friends and family or accidents. Symptoms include reliving unhappy memories, feelings of numbness, avoidance of people and places and more.

Along with substance abuse, addictive disorders can manifest in a variety of ways such as trichotillomania, which involves addictive pulling of hair; kleptomania, which is the impulsive urge to steal; addictive gambling, which is the compulsive competition for something of value that results in trading money; and pyromania, which is the obsessive need to set objects on fire.

It is important to educate and be educated about these mental illnesses, Contact a mental health professional if you see symptoms of these.