Mental Illness – FAQ

Q.1- What are the symptoms of mental illness?

Ans-Sign and symptoms of mental illness are not the same in every person. Some common symptoms are

  1. change in a person’s behavior and personality
  2. Sleeplessness for a prolonged period
  3. Inability to do ones day to day chores/ work
  4. Getting afraid/ fearful without any reason
  5. Feeling sad most of the time
  6. Suicidal ideas
  7. Fearful, palpitation, sweating, feeling like he/she is going to die soon, unable to stay alone
  8. Multiple pain all over the body, headache, gastro-intestinal problems for long duration which are not explainable by laboratory tests
  9. Repetitively washing hand, taking bath for hours, excessive cleanliness, repetitively checking lock
  10. Getting angry without any reason
  11. Feeling very happy without reason, excessive talkative,thinking high about self, spending spree, decreased need for sleep
  12. Irrelevant talk
  13. Being suspicious towards family & friends without any reason
  14. Being suspicious of someone doing black magic on him/her
  15. Suspecting others that they had mixed poison in his/her food
  16. Suspects character of his/her spouse
  17. Auditory hallucination (Feeling as if he/she is hearing some voices with no one around)
  18. Talking and laughing to self
  19. Decreased social interaction, not responding properly, sitting idle for days
  20. Dependence on drugs i.e., alcohol, cannabis, benzodiazepines (alprazolam, clonazepam)
  21. Sexual problem – decreased interest in sex, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation
  22. Children- not interested in study , low intelligence, hyperactive
  23. Elderly- impaired memory, not able to recognize others

There are many types of mental illness. Every disease has different signs and symptoms. However, the above mentioned symptoms are easily noticeable in patients with mental illness. If any such symptoms are seen in a person, then a psychiatrist consultation is necessary.

Q.2-Is there a definite cause for mental illness?

Ans- There is no definite cause for mental illness. It has been often seen that when a person is unable to cope up with his circumstances, surroundings and society, he often loses his mental balance. This causes disturbances in their mental status, as a result of which, the disease manifests in them. Balanced diet and regular exercise are necessary for our body to be healthy. Similarly a proper environment, family support and a compassionate atmosphere is necessary for our mind to be healthy. When the ambition and expectations of a person are much more than his capability, then he constantly remains under stress and consequently develops mental illness.

Many a times, mental illness is hereditary. If anyone in the family (blood relatives) suffers from mental illness, then the risk increases. Imbalance in certain neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin) in brain leads to mental illness.

Q.3-How is mental illness treated?

Ans- Different types of therapy used in mental illnesses are

  • Medicines: Many patients benefit from regular intake of only medicines- medicines should be taken as prescribed by a psychiatrist. Self medication can be harmful.
  • Psychotherapy: By psychotherapy, the doctor established a relation with the patients mind & surroundings – for this the patient has to attend regular sessions with the psychologist for catain period of time. If a person has faced any major setback (unwanted incident) in life, he/she benefits a lot from this therapy. The Psychologist first tries to know the initiation on the triggering incident leading to the illness and then tries to help the person recover by step were psychological counseling.
  • Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) – In this therapy, two electrodes are placed on either side of the skull. Electrical stimulus is passed for 1 to 2 milliseconds at a rate of 30 to 100 pulses a second. Modified ECT is given under anesthesia with muscle relaxants and anticholinergic agents. Patient is not able to feel much pain and discomfort.
  • Repetitive Trans magnetic stimulation ( RTMS ) – It is a magnetic method to stimulate small regions of brain

Q.4- When Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) is given? Is ECT harmful to the patient?

It is only given to those patients, in whom it is indicated. It is given in Depression with suicidal ideas. It is also given in other psychiatric illnesses i.e., schizophrenia, Mania etc. when the person is dangerous to self and others. ECT should also be tried in resistant cases. One should not be worried as ECT is not harmful to the mind of a person if given with proper experienced hand.

Q.5- Can a patient stop medication after he recovers?

Ans- Psychiatric medicinal treatment is a long them treatment. As a person suffering from TB, cancer, diabetes, hypertension has to be under prolonged treatment, similarly a person suffering from mental illness also has to be under prolonged medication.

Q.6- Is non-compliance/ discontinuation of treatment harmful?

Ans- Non compliance can lead to relapse of symptoms.  To lead a productive life, a patient should take regular medicines as prescribed by a psychiatrist.

Q.7- If a person develops any other disease while on psychiatric treatment; can he/she take medicine for the same along with medication prescribed by psychiatrist?

Ans. Yes, Patient can take medication for other diseases with doctor consultation along with psychiatric medicines

Q.8- Can a psychiatry patient marry and lead a family life?

Ans. Some Psychiatric problems are such that marriage is not advised.  However if a person wants to marry, then both parties and both families should be aware of the problem and prior psychiatrist consultation is required.

Q.9- What care should be provided to a person suffering from mental illness ?

Ans- Physical exercise is an important a part of psychiatric treatment. So daily exercise should be a routine of psychiatric patients. Social supports & family care are equally important. A person should be encouraged to do his daily routine and pursue his education/ occupation.

Q.10. Can a Psychiatric patient take alcohol, cannabis and other type of addictive substances?

Ans. No, Psychiatric patient should never be allowed to pursue any type of addiction.

Q.11. Should a psychiatric patient share his/ her secrets with the doctor?

Ans. Yes, patient as well as the family members should share their secrets with the doctor as it helps the doctor to understand the problem better and accordingly, to treat properly. A doctor never shares his/ her patient’s secrets with any else (professional secrecy). Hence a patient can share his/ her secrets with the doctor without any hesitation.

Q.12- What is the duty of family members towards a psychiatric patient ?

Ans. Family members should be loving, understanding and compassionate towards a psychiatric patient. This helps in better treatment & early recovery.

Q.13. Is patient illness completely curable?

Ans. Many psychiatric illnesses are completely curable. Some are not completely curable- However with treatment, a person becomes capable of leading a socially acceptable and productive life. They should be encouraged to do the work they are capable of.  There are many govt. & Non Govt organizations which help these patients. Family and friends of patient should be in contact of such organizations.

Q.14. Can a psychiatric patient go alone to a psychiatrist for treatment?

Ans.  Many Psychiatric patients are not aware of all their symptoms that they are having. So, a close friends or family member should accompany the patient to a doctor. Moreover, many a times, even after consulting a doctor, a Psychiatric patient defers to take medicines or doesn’t take medicines regularly. Hence a responsible person should accompany the patient to a doctor.

Q.15- Can a psychiatric patient take medicines on his own?

Ans. Some patient are able to take medicines on their own and some not. Some forget to take medications regularly. As result, disease worsens. So it is better that a responsible person takes the responsibility of giving the medicines regularly to the patient.