There are still many people who regard visiting or consulting a psychiatrist as something embarrassing. In actual fact, however, seeking aid in this case has to be considered a sign of strength, not weakness. In all mental and emotional difficulties, early diagnosis and prompt treatment are very important. It is extremely important to recognize the signs of mental trouble and to understand that going to an expert for emotional problems is just as natural as going to a doctor to cure influenza.
The hope for people suffering from mental and emotional disorders is brighter today than at any time in history. Psychologists are of the opinion that people who come to psychiatrists for help are often those who are influenced by feelings of failure because they were not able to solve their problems alone. There are still many people who regard visiting or consulting a psychiatrist as something embarrassing. In actual fact, however, seeking aid in this case has to be considered a sign of strength, not weakness. In all mental and emotional difficulties, early diagnosis and prompt treatment are very important. It is extremely important to recognize the signs of mental trouble and to understand that going to an expert for emotional problems is just as natural as going to a doctor to cure influenza.
Almost everyone is: (a) normal and well-adjusted, (b). neurotic, it means that you are suffering a relatively mild form of mental illness, or (c). psychotic, which means suffering a severe form of mental illness.
It is often impossible to draw a sharp line between these categories. Most people are normal and they lead a relatively happy life and are able to solve their problems and to meet a crisis without unreasonable suffering. Those who can’t may need help.
Neurosis is a kind of mental illness, but it is not very serious. Everyone has met neurotic people. The housewife who can’t stand to see dust on a table, the hypochondriac who always think he is sick, and the man who always avoids crossing a bridge are all showing neurotic symptoms. The most important symptoms of neurosis as following: (a). anxiety; (b). depression; (c). compulsion; (d). phobias; (e). amnesia; (f). psychosomatic symptoms.
Anxiety. This is an uneasy feeling that everyone, normal or not experiences from time to time. It is only considered neurotic if the man concerned takes it too seriously out of normal proportions. When a child is slightly injured and bleeding, neurotics regard it as a serious disaster that my cause death. Neurotics often feel that something terrible is going to happen. If this feeling has become a constant and terrible disturbance, help should be sought.
Depression. Everyone has bright moods and “grey” days, but neurotic depressions are more frequent, lasting longer and being more severe. Often the sufferer feels that his life has no meaning. People who are suffering from a neurotic depression may ignore friends, stop work and sleep 18 hours a day.
Compulsion. A compulsion is an action that a person feels forced to do again and again. It may be something like constantly washing his hands or arranging his belongings in a certain manner that he doesn’t want to change for life. If a neurotic person is prevented from performing these acts, he feels uneasy. In serious cases this may even result in panic. He will feel deeply disappointed and this may cause him to become nervous or even to weep.
Phobias. Phobia means unreasonable fear of a certain thing. According to experts, there are more than 200 specific phobias. These include fear of snakes, heights, water, fire, large spaces, crossing bridges, darkness and kittens, and even fear of eating or of hearing one’s own voice. If the sufferer has more than one phobia or if the fear feeling is unbearable, he ought to consult a psychiatrist immediately.
Amnesia. This means a loss of memory. Amnesia is usually an unconscious attempt to remove a terrible experience from one’s mind. The amnesia may cover only one day, that is, for instance, the loss of memory of the day when the sufferer witnessed a horrible accident with his own eyes. When the cause pierces very deeply into a person’s heart, the memory that is lost may cover several years or even his entire past.
Psychosomatic Symptoms. A psychosomatic illness is a physical disorder or disease connected with or heavily influenced by emotional or psychological factors. Several serious physical illnesses are often associated with neurosis. These include asthma, allergies, tuberculosis, high or low blood pressures and heart diseases. Neurotic often also suffer from severe headaches, stomach aches, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty in swallowing, loss of appetite and insomnia (difficulty in sleeping). Unreasonable fatigue may also be a symptom of neurosis. Some neurotics find it very difficult to get out of bed, even after ten hours of sleep.
Psychosis is a severe form of mental illness in which the victim usually seems to have lost touch with reality and lives partially or entirely in a private world of his own imagination. Usually he does not know that he is actually sick and needs help. Even families of psychotic sufferers do not always recognize the signs of psychosis until something serious have occurred. The family of a psychotic victim should understand that there is something wrong with him when he : (1). lives in a separate world, refusing to face his problems; (2). has a wrong impression that people are always trying to do him harm or are always accusing him, (3). is so depressed or pessimistic that he feels helpless or is afraid of trying to do something that is not a routine act; (4). is always feeling uncertain of himself so that it is very difficult for him to make even simple choices; (5). has moods that easily change drastically and in a very short time from deep depression to unrealistic optimism; (6). always needs the help of sleeping-pills to sleep; (7). gets angry or feels offended very quickly even with small matters, and is unable to control his emotions when angry; (8) loses interest in his personal appearance, his job or his family; (9). talks restlessly, and changes the subject instantly from one point to another; (10). hears or sees imaginary things.
Psychosis also includes some other more serious mental illnesses. The most important are schizophrenia, paranoia, mania and psychopathic disease. These four psychotic disorders are very dangerous, and the victim of one of these mental illnesses should be treated in an asylum. A maniac (a sufferer of mania) or a psychopath, for instance, is very likely to do harm to or kill people.
Psychological experts have divided psychoses into two categories: organic and functional. Organic psychoses are caused by physical injuries, especially to the brain or central nervous system, through alcoholism, syphilis, brain tumors or infections. Functional mental illness generally results from psychological factors, such as a horrible experience, wrong education or training, and bad influences from environment or society.
According to Dr. Harvey J. Dain, an American professor of psychotherapy, the most important period in an individual’s life when emotional and mental difficulties are most likely to appear is adolescence, namely the period when a youngster begins to enter adult life. It is therefore very important for parents to try to understand the emotional or mental factors of their children who are entering the age of puberty, the period when they are preparing themselves to enter the first stages of adolescence. In this case understanding, wisdom and loving concern are required.