Mental illness is often stigmatized. We talk about what those fighting mental illness struggle with and what it’s like dealing with a mental disorder. But, honestly, individuals with mental illness struggle with the same things that we do. They deal with the same situations that we deal with. Individuals with mental illness are simply individuals. They are not their condition.
What Is Mental Illness
Mental illness is an illness like any other. Just like cancer, diabetes, and every other disease, it is a condition that is completely out of the individual’s control. Cancer is a growth that can affect various areas of our body. Diabetes is a disease that affects the way our body uses insulin. Mental illnesses are diseases that affect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Mental illness is a disease. Just like every other disease, it affects the human body in its own way.
The Real Challenge: Stigma
The most threatening challenge facing those with a mental illness is stigma. It is the fear that others will judge them for their condition or assume that they’ve brought the condition on themselves. When, in fact, the majority of mental health conditions are genetic or caused by some sort of trauma. There is not a single thing that the individual could have done to prevent the mental illness.
Breaking Misconceptions: 3 Misunderstood Mental Health Conditions
Let’s take the time to break the most common misconceptions regarding the top three most misunderstood mental health conditions. There are so many deceptive lies and ideals attached to the various mental health conditions listed below. Let’s break the misconceptions and change our way of looking at mental health.
Borderline Personality Disorder
There are three common misconceptions or myths people share regarding borderline personality disorder. Let’s take a look and set the record straight.
Myth 1: BPD Cannot Be Treated
BPD can be treated with extensive therapy and treatment. Yes, the journey may be long and difficult but the illness can be managed. If an individual with BPD follows their treatment plan, it could relieve their BPD symptoms and treat the condition.
Myth 2: The Behavior that Accompanies BPD is Attention Seeking (Should be Ignored)
Most individuals struggling with BPD are in deep distress. This distress triggers these behaviors. Those suffering from BPD are not seeking attention, they require professional treatment and attention.
Myth 3: BPD is a Choice/ Individuals with BPD should Help Themselves
We cannot pretend to understand the negative feelings that accompany BPD. But, we can consider ourselves on our worst day. Consider the saddest day you’ve experienced, did you want to fix your feelings or did you want to let them out? Sometimes, we don’t think clearly when we are experiencing strong emotions. That’s why young children throw tantrums. That’s why adults become overwhelmed.
OCD is a complicated condition and because of the complexities of the condition, people tend to draw their own conclusions. Let’s bust the top three myths regarding OCD and speak some truths.
Myth 1: We All Have a Little OCD
Too often people interchange OCD with a quirky personality trait. But, it is a serious mental health condition. Research has proven that the brains of individuals suffering from OCD work differently than those of individuals who do not have the condition. The obsessive compulsions can not be ‘shut off’.
Myth 2: They Need to Relax
When adults are stressed out or overwhelmed, we tell each other to relax and quit worrying so much. OCD is not an overreaction, it is a reaction triggered by the brain. The behaviors associated with OCD are often used to relieve fear and anxiety.
Myth 3: People with OCD ONLY Clean
The behaviors of individuals with OCD range widely. Behaviors related to cleaning only make up a small amount of the triggers and symptoms associated with OCD. The obsessions themselves vary widely. Often, individuals with OCD perform rituals to calm their anxiety. These rituals include counting, checking, and repeating.
Depression is a fairly common mental illness, especially in the United States. The prevalence of depression can cause many people to assume that it’s normal. Let’s take a look at this myth and a few other myths regarding depression.
Myth 1: It’s All in the Head
Too often we tell each other that our feelings are all in our heads. Whether the feelings are due to a mental illness, or not, your feelings are valid. Individuals with depression tend to experience chronic negative feelings. The relief of these feelings can only be obtained through treatment. The individual can not simply push through their negativity or sorrow.
Myth 2: Depression Must be Managed with Medication
This is completely false. Depression can be managed with a variety of treatment options. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an extremely effective therapy in terms of treating depression. Medication should never be the primary treatment option for mental illness. Treatment is always more effective with multiple options.
Myth 3: It’s Normal to Feel Depressed at Some Point
Although 1 in 12 adults reports having depression or depression-like symptoms, it is not a normal part of life. Depression is serious and can be life-threatening. Seek help in managing your depression.
Why Attach A Stigma?
A stigma is a negative or discriminatory attitude towards anyone with a specific similarity. In this case, we are referring to the mental health stigma. This mental health stigma is the combination of the negative and discriminatory attitudes, phrases, and assumptions, individuals affected with a mental illness must face each day. The stigma could be inflicted by the public or oneself.
But why is there a stigma attached to mental illness, or better yet, mental health? In recent years, the stigma attached to mental health has lessened. The medical community has embraced the importance of mental health and the seriousness of the mental illness. In the past, mental illness was seen as an invisible disease. Because people couldn’t see the symptoms of mental illness, they assumed that it didn’t exist.
Presently, the importance of mental health is widely believed and accepted. But, there are some doubts and prejudices that still exist today. As a modern society, it is our duty to break any prejudices and stigmas that still exist today, including those related to mental illness.