Before we delve much into the subject of mental illness, let us first understand how the brain works.
Our brain is what makes us human. It comprises of a complex set of neurons and chemicals that set us apart from other animals. The brain controls all of our body activities from eating, walking, sleeping, talking, learning functions and memory. The brain even controls how we react to medication- with its main working unit being the neuron. Just like wires carry electric circuit, neurons carry information to and from the brain.
Neurons trigger the chemical messengers of the brain known as neurotransmitters. These messages the travel to appropriate receptors. The connection between the neurons and receptors is called synapses. Synapses form a precious chemical balance and interaction and controls how the brain perceives what we see, smell, hear, taste and touch. Any abnormal change in the brain, be it brain injury, reaction to drugs, virus or alteration of chromosomes – may affect the normal functioning of the brain.
Understanding mental illnesses
Mental illnesses can take many forms – just as physical illnesses do. These illnesses are still misunderstood and feared by many people. However, this fear disappears as people learn more about them. Mental disorders also known as psychiatric disorders can be treated. Common types of these disorders include; anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorder, mood disorder, schizophrenia, self-injury and suicide.
We all feel nervous and anxious at some times. The uneasy feeling could be helpful if is motivation. On the other hand, anxiety disorder causes unexpected and unhelpful anxiety that could have severe negative impact on our health. We all experience changes in our mood. Children and the young generation are highly prone to depression. The pressure of growing up and taking responsibility may make us depressed.
Different cultures have varied approaches to mental illness and mental health. Most western countries agree on clinical diagnosis and treatment of these mental problems. However, other cultures have traditional beliefs and approaches to mental issues.
Medication and psychotherapy
Brain functions are regulated by a complex system of neurochemicals, which influence the way we think and feel. Medications balance the effect of these neurochemicals to make us feel better and think more clearly. Medications may be necessary to restore the health of persons affected by mental illness.
Another solution to combating mental illness is through psychotherapy – which involves talking about our problems, learning and establishing new behavioral patterns. The nerve firing – synapses require specific chemicals to create connections. These connections can be repeated to become consistent pathways to the brain.