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April 14, 2024
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Time to Speak Up on Mental Health

Taking care of our mental and emotional well-being is crucial for leading a healthy and fulfilling life. Mental health conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety can significantly impact our daily lives and overall happiness. In this article, we shed light on the most common types of mental disorders, particularly depression, their early signs, and available treatment options.

According to Dr. Edgar Guma, a psychiatrist affiliated with Makerere University’s Department of Psychiatry, a significant portion of the Ugandan population, approximately 30%, suffers from some form of mental illness. Shockingly, many of these individuals remain untreated and undiagnosed. Common mental illnesses include anxiety disorders, dementia, depression, and bipolar disorder, which causes extreme mood swings. Depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder are among the most prevalent mental illnesses, with 17% of Ugandans experiencing depression even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Understanding the Causes and Signs:

Mental illnesses can arise from various factors, including biological factors such as chemical imbalances in the brain, life experiences like stress, genetic predisposition, and a family history of mental illness. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has further exacerbated mental health issues due to increased financial stress, insecurity, anxiety, stigma, confusion, and emotional isolation. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness is crucial in seeking timely help. Common indicators include persistent sadness, difficulty concentrating, excessive fears or worries, extreme mood swings, fatigue, sleeping problems, difficulty coping with daily challenges, changes in eating habits, anger or violence, and suicidal thoughts.

Treatment and Support:

Treatment for mental illness varies depending on the specific disorder and its severity. It typically involves therapy sessions tailored to the individual’s needs, and medication may be prescribed in some cases. Social support plays a vital role in managing mental health conditions, and in severe cases, admission to a psychiatric hospital may be necessary. Dr. Guma emphasizes the importance of identifying what brings relief and implementing self-care strategies. Establishing a daily routine, engaging in creative activities, and enjoying meals with loved ones can significantly improve mental well-being. It is crucial to extend understanding and support to children who may be confused or worried during these challenging times. Friends and family can also provide a safe space for individuals to express their concerns and experiences, fostering a supportive environment.

Raising awareness about mental health is essential to break the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and encourage individuals to seek help when needed. Mental health conditions can affect anyone, and timely intervention is vital for effective treatment and management. By prioritizing our mental well-being, accessing professional support, and fostering a supportive community, we can create a healthier and more compassionate society. It’s time to speak up on mental health and promote a culture of understanding, empathy, and acceptance.

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