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Understanding the Stigma in Mental Health

Stigma in mental health has been prevalent for centuries. Most of us within society still view the symptoms of mental health problem as unpredictable and dangerous. For decades, individuals suffering with psychiatric problems, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, are considered insane or “mad”. They often have to face exclusion either within society, workplace, and at times even within ones own family.

Anxiety, Depression, Substance use are still considered as signs of weakness and not as biological disorders of brain. These are treatable health problems like any other medical conditions to which people refuse to seek professional help due fear of exposure and stigma.

There is no denying that the society is becoming more aware than before, especially with many high profile celebrities such as Deepika Padukone or Catherine Zeta-Jones discussing openly about their illnesses in media. Yet, there are some firmly held beliefs and stigmatising attitudes that continues to prevail in our society.

The stigma can be of two types: A social stigma, which is a discriminating attitudes against those suffering from mental health problems as a result of the psychiatric diagnosis/label they have been given. The second is a perceived stigma, which is their perceptions of discrimination, internalised by mental health sufferers. It can significantly lower their self esteem, instil a feeling of shame, and most importantly leads to poor treatment outcome.

Following are some commonly held misconceptions and beliefs-

1) The common being that people suffering from mental health problems are dangerous and violent, especially those with schizophrenia or bipolar.
2) Some believe that problems of depression and anxiety are part of normal living and can be dealt with by just “being positive”and “being more social”.
3) There is a general belief that eating disorders and substance abuse are self inflicted.
4) Still many consider that people suffering from mental health problems such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar are unemployable.
5) Getting “dependent” or “addicted” to psychiatric medicine is another common misconception that is widespread, even amongst the educated.

Research suggests that significant number adolescents with mental health problems face stigma and discrimination within their own family, peers, teachers and school staffs. Surprisingly, there is a widespread stigma amongst the medical professionals as mental health is given low priority by hospitals, physicians and doctors of other specialties.

What has caused stigma?

Historically, the cause of mental health problems were believed to be due to demonic or spirit possession, such explanations would almost certainly give rise to reactions of fear and discrimination. Media too had played an important role in perpetuating stigmatising stereotypes of people with psychiatric problems. The cinematic depictions of ECT (electro convulsive therapy) or so called “Shock treatment”, or schizophrenia are often stereotypic and characterised by misinformation about mental health symptoms and its treatment. There is strong negative portrayal of schizophrenia in movies, showing the schizophrenia characters as being violent, homicidal and aggressive.

Stigma not only leads to social exclusion, low esteem, poor quality of life, but also poorer treatment outcomes and recovery from mental problems. It has been seen that people tend to hold to these stigma regardless of their age, background or education. Stigma is evident in the way laws, social services, and the justice system are structured as well as ways in which resources are allocated. The solution may not be so simple but needs to be multifaceted. Simply raising voices and providing information will not help, but their is a need to challenge the existing negative stereotypes especially as they are portrayed in general media as well.

Defeat Anxiety Disorder with Yoga

How Yoga can benefit you in Anxiety Disorders?

Traditionally, Yoga has been thought of as a form of physical exercise, and its practice is often limited to maintaining physical fitness. However, research has shown significant benefits in terms of psychological well being, especially anxiety disorders.

The therapeutic potential it has for psychological and medical disorders, or so called “yoga therapy”, has become highly popular in the general public.

Stress reduction, physical relaxation, positive effects on mood, improved cognitive functioning, are some well researched psychophysiological benefits of yoga. It has shown to have significant therapeutic benefit in psychiatric problems of anxiety and depression, which by no doubt are the two most prevalent conditions in psychiatry and general public.

Furthermore, there is proven benefits of yoga in other psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction problems and even childhood disorders.

An overall improvement in physical and mental well being is likely to cause an additional reduction in disease severity.

Yoga promotes the phenomenon of “self-realisation”, which not only is a key for one in being peaceful but also helps one get detached from the materialistic gratifications and frustrations that are the root cause of many psychiatric disorders.

 

Ways yoga can improve your mental health

 

Promotes relaxation

With the practice of yoga you can gain more control over your body state, you become more relaxed and experience less anxiety. Yoga strengthen our parasympathetic nervous system over sympathetic system that promotes more relaxation and calmness.

It slows down the sympathetic nervous activity which is overly active in various anxiety disorders, which is also responsible for flight-or-fight reactions in our body.

Helps you become more confident

Through yoga, you understand yourself and become nonjudgemental. It helps resolve multiple conflicts within yourself. It promotes self-trust. Eventually, your relationship with your own self is what matters the most.

It is only if you are confident and in peace with yourself, have a balanced ego, that you can develop healthy relationships with others.

Benefits relationship with your partner

An inner peace helps instill compassion and unconditional love in a relationship with your partner. You become less reactive against your partner and more tolerant, which are important qualities of a healthy relationship.

Self awareness

With yoga you become more aware and conscious of your qualities and emotions. By being more mindful, you will have some sort of emotional release that can be psychologically soothing. It also relieves you of any physical tension in body.

With one in four people affected by mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, at some point in their lives, many people are finding yoga as an effective way to protect themselves from mental health conditions throughout the world.

Remember, yoga is not a complete solution to mental health concerns, but can be an adjunctive to primary psychiatric treatment.

For more information and related topics visit us on www.onlymindmatters.com