Many factors can contribute to mental illness, it can be genetic, but it is also possible for an individual to develop mental illness without any history of it in their family. In this article, I will focus on three types of mental illnesses: post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and depression, as the two former can lead to the latter.
The more stress and trauma that an individual retains, the more likely they are to experience characteristics of mental illness. A commonly known example of this is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This particular mental illness stems from the individual having gone through a traumatic experience such as war, sexual assault, car crashes, etc. The symptoms include recurring nightmares, flashbacks, having a difficult time relaxing or focusing, and struggling with emotional detachment. A main stigma that revolves around this illness is that those affected by it are volatile. With the right amount of support and therapy, PTSD is treatable.
Eating disorders are also very common and can be defined as unhealthy, extreme behaviours that involve weight. The most common types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by excessive dieting and exercise in the hopes of losing weight quickly. With this condition, the individual usually has an unrealistic sense of their weight; seeing themselves as “fat” despite, the extreme weight loss. With bulimia, the individual affected partakes in rounds of extreme overeating (bingeing), followed by the throwing up of that same food (purging) to compensate for the overeating. Eating disorders tend to be more common in females and often develop sometime during teenage to young adult years. This mental illness coexists with psychological issues such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and low self-esteem. For some, a fixation with food becomes a way to gain control over one aspect of their lives, if they are unable to find the control elsewhere. Eating disorders can have long-term health consequences if left untreated, which is why it is important to educate those around us to ensure a positive and supportive environment for those that are going through it.
The third and final mental illness that I will be discussing in this article is depression. I paired these three particular illnesses together as both post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders can cause a person to “fall” into a depression. One does not leisurely walk into a depression; they fall, without warning and sometimes without support. There is not always a reason for an individual to become depressed but in some cases, there are underlying factors that contribute. As a person that struggles with posttraumatic stress disorder, I can attend to the fact that it can absolutely cause depression. When dealing with a mental illness that forces you to relive a traumatic event repeatedly, it is completely understandable that depression would stem from it. It is not something to be ashamed of, and because of my understanding on the subject, I am aware that sharing can only help those that have endured similar. A person that is dealing with anorexia or bulimia also commonly suffers with depression.When a person is unhappy with the image that they see in the mirror and their unhealthy strategies are not working it can cause depression to flourish.
It is difficult to put as much enthusiasm into this article as I am truly feeling regarding mental illness. I cannot even begin to stress the positive impact it would have on society if every person was able to gain knowledge and understanding. I will do my part in writing these articles. Now, it’s your turn.
by Lexie Switzer