Mental health issues are on rise across the globe yet when it comes to treating them many of the disorders remain undiagnosed due to stigma attached to them. While it’s easier to talk about physical health, people hesitate to have a conversation around mental health as they aren’t sure of getting the required support in their journey. Dealing with mental illnesses alone can further make one lonely and miserable. (Also read: 10 easy tips to manage your mental health)
It is estimated that one in four adults suffer from a mental health disorder at some point in their lives. Despite the high prevalence, many disorders go undiagnosed. In some cases, people are simply unaware that they are suffering from a mental health problem. In other cases, they may be reluctant to seek help due to the stigma surrounding mental illness.
What is mental health and why people don’t openly talk about it
“Mental health is often viewed as a taboo topic, but it is one that we need to start talking about more openly. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices,” says Dr Chandni Tugnait, M.D. (Alternative Medicines), Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Business Coach, NLP Expert, Healer, Founder & Director – Gateway of Healing.
Dr Tugnait says due to the many myths and misconceptions about mental health, we often keep our struggles to ourselves but this needs to change.
The psychotherapist suggests three of the most common mental health disorders that often go undiagnosed:
1. Depression: Depression is a common but often misunderstood mental health disorder. Symptoms of depression can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness for prolonged periods. Some people may also experience changes in sleeping patterns, appetite, and energy levels. While it is normal to feel low at times, if these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, it may be indicative of a more serious problem.
2. Anxiety: Anxiety is another common but often under-diagnosed mental health disorder. Symptoms of anxiety can include persistent worry, complete avoidance of certain situations or activities, and physical symptoms such as sweating and racing heartbeats. Like depression, anxiety can range from mild to severe, and if left untreated can harm every aspect of a person’s life.
3. Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme mood swings. People with bipolar disorder may experience periods of highs (mania) followed by lows (depression). While the highs can be pleasurable, the lows can be very debilitating, making it difficult to function in day-to-day life. Bipolar disorder often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms can be mistaken for other mental health disorders or simply chalked up to “having a bad day.”
Reasons why mental health disorders may go undiagnosed
Mental health disorders can make it difficult to maintain relationships, do a job, or perform well in school or at work.
“Mental health disorders are often undiagnosed because the symptoms can be hidden. For example, someone who is struggling with depression may not express their feelings of sadness or despair. Instead, they may seem withdrawn or disinterested in activities they once enjoyed. Similarly, someone with an anxiety disorder may not show signs of distress but instead may avoid situations that trigger their anxiety. As a result, mental health disorders can go unnoticed for months or even years,” says Dr Tugnait.
Another reason mental health disorders are often undiagnosed is that people are reluctant to seek help. Many people feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit that they are struggling. As a result, they may suffer in silence or may try to hide their symptoms or downplay the severity.
“Mental health disorders can also be difficult to diagnose because symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. This makes it hard for friends and family to know when someone is truly suffering. Even doctors can have difficulty diagnosing mental illness, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment,” says the expert.
How to seek help
The best way to get a proper diagnosis is to see a mental health professional who can assess your symptoms and provide you with the appropriate care. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be struggling with a mental health disorder, it is important to reach out for help. Early intervention can make tremendous difference in the course of a mental illness.