In a country like ours, that severely trivialises mental health, we come across myths, mental health fallacies, day in-day out. From "why do you need to visit a therapist, are you crazy?" to "don't be silly, it's just a phase", we've heard it all.
"To some people (most people), common mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression may seem like everyday issues, the part and parcel of life. However, for the individual undergoing the emotional concern, it may be nothing short of agonizing," state Dr. Darpan Kaur and Dr. Mohit Shah, psychiatrists who consult on Practo. "These daily stressors, along with the ever-present stigma attached to mental health concerns can hamper the individual’s daily functioning, mood, sleep, and appetite, and in order to rectify such a chain reaction, a professional must be consulted immediately," they add.
Here are some of the most common myths you must've come across:
MYTH 1: Only a mad person consults a therapist
DEBUNKING THE MYTH: A fairly common one, while it is true that psychiatrists do treat patients with chronic illnesses; who can appear emotionally, behaviorally and socially abnormal in society, a lot of mental health efforts have taken a positive-preventive direction as well. "It is highly prejudiced and stereotypical to hold the view that only mad people visit a psychiatrist. From significant psychotic conditions to basic examination stress, financial stress, family stress, and even relationship stress, a range of worries may urge one to seek professional help," states Dr Kaur. Moreover, the consequences of long-standing, untreated mental health problems can be even worse!
MYTH 2: If someone is facing a psychological problem, it is a failure of their will-power
DEBUNKING THE MYTH: More often than not, the sufferer is blamed for their own mental health condition, due to a weak disposition or lack of will-power. "There are a range of serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, OCD etc which may have a genetic, chemical basis. Such an abnormality in the brain can be caused by neurotransmitter systems and there may actually be absolutely no role of will power failure at all! Thereby, it would be incorrect and highly unfair to blame the person for something which may not entirely be under their control," informs Dr Kaur.
MYTH 3: All psychiatrists do is put their patients to sleep with medications!
DEBUNKING THE MYTH: Post detailed history taking, a clinical examination, and tests and assessments, do psychiatrists make a clinical impression of their patients problem from a medical perspective. They use their best knowledge about the patients disorder and prescribe medications accordingly, while taking care of the possible side effects. "While medicines to treat many serious disorders can induce excess sleep, it is entirely untrue that these are prescribed with purpose to cause changes in one's sleep pattern," says Dr Kaur. "Besides, in today's day and age there are many advances in psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, counseling, all of which holistically work towards helping patients recover in the best way possible," he adds.
MYTH 4: Mental health conditions are solely an exaggeration of problems; the individual just needs to be positive
DEBUNKING THE MYTH: Undoubtedly, there are many stigmas attached to the field of psychiatry and mental health studies. "It is the need of the hour to understand that our brain is one of the most complex organs in our body and if something affects our brain, it must be controlled and cured, just like any other physical injury that we may face," states Dr Shah. The ailments in our brain are as important and require to be treated so that we can feel healthy. Mental health problems aren't solely exaggerations of basic, everyday problems and neither is it 'just a phase.'
MYTH 5: Psychiatric medication is bad and a complete no-no
DEBUNKING THE MYTH: Many patients and their relatives are opposed to, and skeptical about consuming medicines prescribed by a psychiatrist. "It is absolutely imperative to understand that when we have a physical injury, like a fracture, there is a certain procedure that we need to follow. We get an X-ray, then a plaster, followed by painkillers to dull the pain. In the same way, when we experience stress, anxiety, depression or any other concern, it may be accompanied with chemical imbalances in the brain that can further lead to negative thoughts, trouble with sleep, mood and appetite, and in order to correct these, medicines may essential," advises Dr Shah.
MYTH 6: People with mental health illnesses are violent and cannot work
DEBUNKING THE MYTH: "Those with mental health illnesses are not always violent and aggressive. In fact, it is often seen that they are more likely to be the victims of violent actions, rather than being perpetrators themselves," states Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, who frequently collaborates with myUpchar. In addition, with proper treatment and intervention, most people with mental health-related illnesses can successfully hold jobs and be exceedingly productive in their respective fields too.