Mind Your Mind


Over the years, mental health disorders have been surrounded by a net of misconceptions and myths. They have been represented to us in extreme shapes; someone who is completely insane, a psychopath who coldly kills people and never feels guilt, or an isolated and deeply depressed person who does not communicate with anyone and even fears the light and sound. These examples show extremes of mental disorders, often exaggerated, but the vast majority of mental cases are far from these depictions.

This conception has planted in many people the fear of being discriminated against and stigmatized if medically diagnosed with mental disorders; driving some to confine their symptoms to themselves, and never open up about their condition to anyone nor visit a doctor. This worsens the case and may result in more serious outcomes because, simply, such symptoms will not go away on their own and need real treatment.

What is mental disorder?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses, dementia, and developmental disorders including autism. These disorders are characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behaviors, and relationships with others; if not well-treated or neglected, these can cast a shadow on daily activities, such as work, study, and communicating with others.

Mental disorders are not confined to only being completely “insane” or severely depressed. To peel away the heavy crust of illusions surrounding mental health issues, below are six of the most common myths and the facts beyond them.

  1. Mental health issues are a rare bird

According to WHO, an estimated number of around 264 million people are affected by depression worldwide, 45 million for bipolar disorder, 20 million for schizophrenia and other psychoses cases, and 50 million for dementia, which means that they are by all means not rare.

  1. People with mental health issues cannot be productive

Although mental health issues affect the person’s productivity and ability to work under pressure, it does not mean that they will not be able to work or be productive in some way. It depends on many factors; one of them is the severity of the case and also the support they get from the work environment.

  1. Mental health problems are a sign of poor character

Actually, mental health has nothing to do with the character. Many factors contribute to these disorders, such as genetics, the environment, and life experiences. Also, it is important to highlight that a person who fights to get over a mental health condition and tries to cope with study/work requirements should have enough strength and determination to succeed in that, which are elements of a strong personality.

  1. Mental health problems last forever

All fingers are not the same; mental health issues are different in symptoms, causes, and the time of recovery. According to WHO, there are real treatments for many of these mental disorders and ways to alleviate their effects and the suffering caused by them.

  1. Mental illness affects adults only

The fact is that many mental health issues go back to childhood and adolescence. They can impact the way one learns, and can be really challenging if not addressed by proper treatment or given the required care. The tricky thing here is that adults are more able to identify and talk about what they really feel, and what is wrong, while children might not be able to identify or express what they go through.

  1. Eating disorders have to do with lifestyle and only affect females

Eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating are serious problems caused by many factors; including biological, environmental, and social ones. They need real treatment and sometimes therapy as well, which means that they are not a matter of choice.

Unlike the popular misconception, studies show that men also suffer from these disorders. According to a research conducted to study the prevalence of eating disorders in men in the UK, it turned out that they represent 10–25% of eating disorder cases.

More awareness required

In order to be able to treat mental disorders, we first need to understand the truth beyond them, their causes and symptoms, and how to get over or manage them. There is no reason to feel ashamed of having a mental health disorder; the real problem emerges from ignorance about them, and not being aware of how important it is to talk about it with your family or a doctor and take the first step towards a safe shore.







The original article was published in SCIplanet Magazine, Autumn 2020 issue.

Cover image: www.flushinghospital.org

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