Mental issues are one of the major health concerns not only by Australians but all over the world. These conditions cause a lot of problems not only to individuals who suffer from them but also to society as a whole. Not only is it an economic burden, but can also lead to crimes and self-harm.
Mental illnesses, oftentimes, are difficult to diagnose and treat as they can affect individuals at different points in time. They may feel fine for long periods, but would then suffer attacks suddenly. Sometimes, visible symptoms do not manifest and people do not seek treatment, preventing them from knowing that such a problem exists.
It is said that 1 in every 2 Australians will suffer one type of mental disorder or another during the course of their lifetime. Another disconcerting fact is that 10% of those afflicted with a mental illness will die by suicide. For this reason, awareness and detection ae extremely critical.
This article discusses some of the most common forms of mental health issues suffered by Australians. It also aims to spread awareness about these conditions so that it can encourage you to seek help if you are one of the sufferers of this major health condition.
What are Mental Illnesses?
Mental illnesses encompass any condition wherein a person experiences changes in thought, emotions, or actions. These often result in problems socializing of dealing with events in your life. Mental disorders manifest in many ways and can lead to serious repercussions if not treated.
It is said that over four million Australians suffer from mental disorders at any given year, although these numbers may not be completely accurate due to the stigma of seeking help for these types of conditions. Mental illnesses can strike anyone but usually manifests during teenage years to early adulthood.
Those who are more susceptible to mental disorders include the following:
- Victims or witnesses to trauma i.e. violent crimes or war
- Victims of abuse such as rape or bullying
- Homosexuals or bisexuals
- Those who have experienced trauma during childhood (i.e. divorcing parents, witnessing death or violence)
Most Common Mental Health Issues in Australia
Listed below are the mental disorders that are most common in Australia. Whenever available, its prevalence within the population is also included. Other information relating to the disorder will be discussed, as well.
Fourteen percent of all Australians suffer from an anxiety disorder at every given year. Anxiety disorders are characterized by unusual levels of worry, even under relatively normal situations. Sometimes called panic attacks, the sufferer may experience excessive sweating, hyperventilation, or rapid heart rates when episodes are triggered.
Phobias such as fear of heights or socializing are also included under the category of panic disorders. These types of conditions can greatly affect a person’s productivity at work or in the community. It can also cause discrimination and in some cases, trigger further problems such as substance abuse.
Fortunately, anxiety disorders are one of the most easily treatable mental disorders. A combination of therapy and medication, as well as a strong support group, will help in treating sufferers or anxiety disorders. Of course, early diagnosis and treatment is a must for best results.
Affective disorders include depression and bipolar disorders. Both of these conditions are characterized by extreme shifts in mood and emotions. At worst, these disorders can give you a feeling of hopelessness and extreme sadness, which is why a large percentage of sufferers have committed or have attempted suicide.
Affective disorders are different from just feeling down, as depressive attacks can last for days and even weeks. Depression can be triggered by episodes such as shortly after delivering birth or when in isolation, although this can also occur without any obvious reason.
Aside from mood swings, those with affective disorders may experience loss of appetite, lack of sleep, increased irritability, fatigue, and pains with no physical sources. In worst cases, suicidal thoughts or the desire to harm oneself will also manifest.
Estimates show that around six percent of Australians suffer from affective disorders. Medication such as anti-depressants are recommended for affective disorders. Having a healthy social circle, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and frequent visits to a therapist have also been shown to help in treating this condition.
Substance abuse affects around five percent of Australians, with males being more susceptible. Also called substance dependence or addiction, substance abuse is a disorder characterized by reliance on foreign materials such as drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.
Not only does substance abuse pose significant health risks such as lung cancer or liver damage, but it can also serve as a precursor for other types of mental illness such as depression. Sufferers of substance abuse will also feel withdrawal symptoms that manifest physically if they are not able to consume their substance of choice for a period of time.
It is said that the prevalence of substance abuse is due to the ease of purchase as well as the widespread availability of these items. As such, stricter control on these items, specifically tobacco, alcohol, and prescription medication must be implemented. Joining support groups that aid in cessation is also recommended for addicts.
How to Get Help
If you or someone that you know is suffering from a type of mental health, it is important to seek professional help. Perhaps more importantly, it is critical that the sufferer avoids experiencing discrimination especially from friends and loved ones.
Australia has numerous government and non-government groups and programs that help those with mental health issues.
Several hospitals have facilities and personnel that are capable of treating mental disorders, and groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous exist in the country to help those with substance abuse problems.
Several organizations such as SANE Australia have counsellors that those who suffer from mental disorders can call for support. Other sites such as Headspace and ReachOut also provide assistance and information about mental health.
However, immediate family and friends are always considered to be front-liners who will show support and empathy to those who experience and suffer from these types of conditions.