To this day, mental illnesses are considered to be a taboo subject. The stigma around them remains despite the extensive research on why normalizing mental health is necessary. Physical illnesses are taken very seriously but mental illnesses are often dismissed but the question we ask today is, are mental illnesses just as severe as physical illnesses?
A lot of the time, mental illnesses cannot be seen unlike a physical injury, which makes it harder for others to know if someone is doing well mentally or not. There a lot of double standards regarding mental illnesses as well. even when people are treated and given antidepressants, someone might tell you not to take your medication as it changes who you are. But the same wouldn’t be said to a person who has to take insulin injections for diabetes.
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The thing is, mental health can affect your physical health as well. A study done by King’s College London showed that those who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression have a higher chance of cardiovascular disease. This may just be the biggest study of its kind as researches analyzed 3.2 million people living with severe mental illness. Their risk of dying from the disease is 85% higher.
Media is the culprit behind most of the stereotypes regarding mentally ill people. Most people still believe that individuals with mental illness are dangerous and unpredictable since many crimes usually reference their history of mental illnesses. Although it is true that criminals can be mentally ill but most people with mental illnesses don’t common crimes. In fact, they are more likely to be the victim.
The image of mental illnesses in society has an actual effect on the lives of those who do suffer from it. Many patients reject treatment for their illness due to the lack of understanding about the process. This then starts a cycle of non-adherence to medication and eventually, treatment. That is why knowing and understanding the severity of one’s mental illness is necessary.
Another example of a mental illness increasing the chance of a physical illness is the link between schizophrenia and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is associated with low bone mass which makes them fragile and easy to fracture. A study has shown that people living with schizophrenia are at a higher risk of developing this condition. A review conducted in 2011 found out that having schizophrenia almost doubled your chances of having low bone density.
In our world, if mental illness were treated like any other illnesses, it would have a huge impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing. If you know someone or yourself are struggling with some sort of mental illness, then reaching out to a therapist is highly encouraged. Mental illnesses make living very difficult, don’t let your loved ones or even yourself resort to the last option. Many mental illnesses are actually easily treatable but a lot of the time, the first step is the hardest. We encourage you to break the cycle and reach out.
Until Next Time,
Team Doctor ASKY!