Mental Illness is Real, Going to Therapy is Not 3eib

By: Rawan Aboseif

How does a person start talking about mental health? Where does a person start? Well, for starters, I should express how delicate such a topic is. Usually, people do not talk about their mental state to anyone. Some people like to talk about it to their closest friends or their family members. Some others go to therapist in order to let out all their feelings. However, some people refuse to go to therapy, not because they don’t believe in therapy or are not supporters of it; they don’t go to therapy for there is a stigma stamp that is set on therapy and those who seek it. Unfortunately, not all people get rid of this idea an actually seek therapy. Personally, I believe a person should always seek therapy, for it is never a stigma.

Let’s start off by explaining how mental illness exists. For each type of mental illness, there is a way in which the brain “malfunctions”. According to the National Institute of Mental Health(NIMH), different mental illnesses happen when certain neurotransmitters send false chemical messages between neurons. Those false messages cause abnormal electrical impulses that actually do cause the different symptoms of different mental illnesses.   Let’s take a look one of the most famous mental illnesses that reached 6.9% of the world’s population; depression. Depression is caused by the neurotransmitter Serotonin – a neurotransmitter responsible for sleep, appetite, and mood. When Serotonin is deficient in the brain, people face a depressive episode.

Other diseases that are common and caused by the same neurotransmitters are Schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), and Parkinson’s Disease. The three of them are caused by the deficiencies of Dopamine – a neurotransmitter that is mainly involved in controlling movement and aiding the flow of information to the front of the brain, which is linked to thought and emotion, and it is also linked to reward systems in the brain. When such a deficiency of Dopamine takes place, people start experiences of Parkinson’s disease, such as hardships in movement abilities that result in stiffness, tremors, shaking, etc. If Dopamine level go much lower than the usual, it becomes hard on the brain to use Dopamine in thinking and feeling, which cause Schizophrenia and/or ADHD.

One more important neurotransmitter that is linked to common mental illnesses is Glutamate – a very common neurotransmitter that has various roles in the electrical flow among the brain cells, which are required for brain development, memory enhancement, and learning assistant. When Glutamate is not produced enough, or the brain can not utilize it, it causes symptoms of many mental illnesses, and, soon enough, it actually leads to getting that disease. Examples of these diseases are Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Depression, Autism, and Schizophrenia.

I think I have made it clear enough that these diseases are not of human control. Like the heart, stomach, and most, if not all, other organs of the body, the brain is an involuntary organ, meaning it operates on its own without our control. Once the brain gets one the diseases mentioned above, it will need medications. Medication of the brain can be broken down into two categories; therapy and psychiatry. For long time, it thought they were both the same thing. However, there is a difference between them. Therapy is like counseling, where you go to a psychologist/therapist in order to discuss your problems, and he or she should help you get over your disease episode. Meanwhile, psychiatry uses a very similar approach, but, in psychiatry, the psychiatrist is allowed to prescribe medicine for his or her patients.

Since I have already discussed the reason behind some mental illnesses, let’s discuss the medication for them. Each disease has it own specified medication. For example, antidepressants serve to increase the level of Serotonin and Glutamate. Once the levels of these two neurotransmitters are raised to their normal state, the person is free from the illness. Now comes the question, does this end the diseases’ episode? Gladly, yes, it does. However, very few cases get the episodes again. You would find me referring to the illness as episodes, because that is what it is. Those diseases do not haunt you down your entire life. Mental illnesses affect a person and stay with him or her for a certain time frame. Those who seek therapy get rid of that episode faster than those who don’t. Of course, those who do not seek therapy live with the disease for a long time; some get rid of it while others die or commit suicide while having it. Still, those who recover from the disease have a minimal chance of getting the disease again, meaning they will be mentally stable.

A very evident proof that mental illnesses are not an impediment to live a normal life, be artistic and successful is the fact that some very well known artists had mental illnesses. One of the very famous Dutch painters, Vincent Van Gogh, had bipolar disorder and depression. For several years, he painted several amazing paintings while suffering of both diseases. After a while his pain became unbearable that he admitted himself into an asylum. He continued painting while getting his treatment. After a while, his life became unbearable to him, he tried committing suicide by drinking yellow paint, but he was saved. Some time after, he was found dead at his own house. The cause of death was a gunshot in his abdominal cavity. It remains an enigma whether he committed suicide or was killed.

One more famous artist that committed suicide and took his entire audience is Robin Williams. Robin Williams was a famous “comedian”. He had made his audience happy for several years. From romantic comedies to Disney cartoons, Robin Williams had spread laughter on so many people’s faces of different generations. Robin Williams committed suicide at age 63. Turns out, he has had depression for a very long time and couldn’t find happiness in life.

All in a nutshell, mental illnesses are very common. An eight-year-old can get just like a sixty-year-old. Mental illnesses do not recognize age. Still, a person should never be ashamed of having a mental illness or having a fight against it. Fighting mental illness makes you stronger by the day. Being a fighter and having a stable life afterward is a lot better than staying with a mental illness for social acceptance. At the end of the day, are you sure that social stigma won’t get you anyways?

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