The New Zealand Mental Health Survey cast some light on the make-up of mental illness in our country. Females are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders, major depression and eating disorders, with men more likely to have more problems with substance abuse. Pacific Island and Maori have a higher prevalence of mental health issues compared with other groups of New Zealanders. People with mental health disorders often suffer from more than one disorder.
Common mental health conditions include anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and personality disorder.
Whenever we encounter stress our body undergoes rapid change to allow us to stay and fight, or flee, from the perceived threat. Stress hormones such as adrenaline surge through our veins, priming us with extra speed and strength to avoid danger. Heightened sensory awareness of danger is part of this stress response. Anxiety sufferers experience this same heightened awareness and physical change associated with the “fight or flight” response.
With anxiety, our mental focus becomes fixated on perceived threats, real or otherwise. Feelings of mental and physical tension, nervousness, worry and perhaps a sense of impending dread can lead to us feeling panicky and frightened. Along with the mental fretting may come physical symptoms such as a pounding or palpitating heart; dizziness; dry mouth; stomach pain; frequent bowel motions; shaking; and chest pain or tightness. Anxiety may cause problems with sleeping and concentration, and cause restlessness, irritability and fatigue. Anxiety can often cause sufferers to live in an increasingly restricted world, as they avoid more and more situations they fear.
Overestimating the threat plus underestimating our ability to cope equals anxiety.
Types of Anxiety
There are several different types of anxiety disorders including:
Depression is more than “the blues”. Everyone can have times of feeling down, sad or flat, but these feelings usually pass in a week or two. Sometimes though, these feelings become so strong and long-lasting (taking months rather than weeks) that they’re diagnosed as depression. Other common symptoms of depression include:
What Causes Depression?
Depression is triggered by a loss of some kind such as the death of a relative or close friend, marriage break-up, or redundancy. This is called reactive depression and it can resolve spontaneously over time. Or it can be severe and persistent and need active treatment. This is especially likely for people who are socially isolated, have high stress levels, have other worries or who are physically exhausted. Chronic physical illness such as cancer or arthritis can trigger depression, as can viral infections such as glandular fever in young people.
Heavy alcohol consumption can increase our risk of depression, as can a family history of the illness. Hormonal imbalance after childbirth can lead to post-natal depression. Sometimes there are no outside triggers, and this kind of depression is called endogenous depression. Bipolar disorder can be associated with profound depression and can run in families.
Depression is caused by several factors working together, including an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin.
Prevention and Treatment
For more on Depression visit depression.org.nz
As the weather continues to become warmer we see more people coming into the pharmacy to ask for help with their fungal infections. Fungi are like mus..
Every time I set off for an outdoor adventure, I think about how lucky we are in New Zealand that we don’t have real nasties like snakes, spiders or..