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Since childhood, we’ve been told that physical pain was the only reason to visit a doctor. We think that we’re always anxious due to a hectic lifestyle, sleepy because of an over-packed schedule, and exhausted because of our age. But doctors nowadays worry that these could also be the signs of mental disorders and diseases that affect how the brain works and are literally killing the body day by day.
Bright Side encourages everyone to take care of their mental health and wants to prove why we shouldn’t be afraid of going to the doctor in the 21st century.
Why are more and more people turning to psychologists for help?
Thanks to achievements in modern science, the inner workings of the human mind aren’t mysterious. There are tools that study the brain’s activity and methods of treatment and diagnostics have also changed. Traits that were attributed to a bad temper are now considered part of a mental disorder or a sign of a disease. People don’t go crazy more often then they used to in the past, they just speak about what they feel and what worries them more. The Internet has given us access to all necessary information, so we read other people’s stories and find warning signs within ourselves. As a rule, turning to an expert helps to solve a problem and allows a person to resume an ordinary life.
We’ve started saying “goodbye” to myths. For example, the number of people with autism has grown since the 1980s. In the past, it was believed to be connected with vaccinations. But in fact, the diagnostic methods have changed and the definition of the disease has broadened. Today, there are more concepts. For example, autism spectrum disorder includes infantile and atypical autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and Rett syndrome. Autism spectrum disorder can be diagnosed in a person who looks shy and is considered to be an introvert, but this doesn’t stop the person from being a part of modern society. Also, long-term observations help to detect such disorders in childhood. For example, if a baby is building a tower of blocks following a certain color pattern, it could be a good reason to turn to a doctor.
What kinds of diseases and disorders have appeared in the 21st century?
There are several diseases that doctors have just recently learned to diagnose, and in the past, they were considered to be a kind of emotional state. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the 1970s helped scientists to take a look inside the human brain and prove that depression is a disease that results in the failure of signals being sent between neurons. What’s more, some emotions such as anger are considered to be as dangerous as depression or addiction and require treatment if a person can’t control themselves in such a state.
“My friend asked me to portray my depression. My treatment has started with this very picture.” waynedewho
34% of people suffering from mental disorders don’t experience any evident symptoms. Most of them just think it’s all due to age, fatigue, a bad mood, or stress. Such people even don’t realize they need help. For example, if a person often feels anxious or dizzy, experiences headaches, a rapid heartbeat, solar plexus pain, and sweats a lot, it might be more than just awe or excitement — it could be generalized anxiety disorder that’s almost impossible to treat with medicine. In 2011, more than 29 million Europeans were treated for this disorder. But there are some disorders that have appeared as a reaction to the events of the new century. For example, cyberchondria, which is when people give themselves a diagnosis based on symptoms described on the Internet.
In the 21st century, experts have started to register more phobias that aren’t diseases but can be the first signs of one. Peladophobia, the fear of baldness caused by an urge to stay young, is one of them. Caligynephobia, the fear of beautiful women, is also getting more and more common today. As a rule, it’s often a result of a painful breakup with an aggressive and selfish woman who tried to be perfect due to her own inner problems. There are also phobias that appeared because of scientific and technological progress like the fear of radiation, the fear of telephone calls, or the fear of robotic technology.
Many people think that they have to fight their fears. But it turns out that sometimes even medicine is useless: if you’re afraid of traveling by plane, a sedative pill wouldn’t help you, it would just slow down your reaction. But working with a psychologist on your fears and trying out a flight simulator can really help. Phobias lead to panic attacks which can result in mental disorders. So don’t assume that your fear will go away if you don’t work through it.
Changes in lifestyle can also lead to new bad habits. Phubbing is one of them. It’s a person’s uncontrolled urge to spend time on their phone, constantly checking their news feed, looking at the screen even while talking to someone in person, or eating with a phone in their hands.
By studying the way this habit affects family life, scientists have found that 46.3% of the respondents deal with regular phubbing from their partners. 22.6% say it’s the cause of conflict, and more than 1/3 of all respondents claim it leads them to a depressive state. Smartphones have led to phantom vibration syndrome which is when a person hears and sometimes feels their gadget vibrating or ringing. Some experts think that it’s something like an optical illusion like when we see a face or a silhouette in the clouds.
As for insomnia, it’s considered to be a dangerous disorder that should be treated. Sleep deprivation results in cell damage, so one’s memory suffers, the immune system fails to work properly, the metabolism worsens, and it puts a person at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Today, insomnia is considered the main symptom that triggers Alzheimer’s disease.
Other modern phenomena that may destroy us from the inside
Children develop poorly when they don’t play with other children. This makes them reserved, unable to empathize, cruel, and selfish. Playing with other kids has a good impact on a child’s personality since while interacting with each other, children learn to control their emotions, find common ground with different people, and so on. For other social creatures, games are the best way to explore the world — it’s in our nature.
Infidelity causes psychological trauma. Marriage isn’t an economic bargain anymore. Yesterday’s monogamy was the idea of the same partner forever and today’s monogamy means only one partner for this moment. We choose a person making them think they’re unique, and then we show them with our actions that they’re not. Due to this reason, cheating is more painful. A person’s self-esteem plummets, they stop trusting people, and they experience depression or even degradation. It’s not about a broken heart, it’s about a broken life.
Obesity is a more common issue than hunger today. In the world, there are more people who suffer from overeating than those who suffer from hunger. Cheap, low-quality food availability and fast food popularization have led to eating disorder development. Some people suffer from anorexia or bulimia, trying to look like models, and others refuse to treat obesity. Most people say they’re all for “body-positive” thinking which truly teaches us to love ourselves, but it actually implies taking care of our health and body.
Social media doesn’t make us closer, it makes us feel isolated. Success and wealth cults make people compete for others’ attention and avoid communication so that they don’t have to worry that they’re actually uninteresting. People show their lives to others only if they correspond to common norms.
City noises shorten our lives. Each year, the city sounds louder: the noise level is higher than the level that is considered to be harmless to our health. Noises can irritate us and make our bodies produce a stress hormone called cortisol, reduce our productivity by 60%, and create vibrations that affect our inner organ function. We literally go crazy if we permanently live in a city.
What can we do?
Listen to yourself, not others. If you feel anxious, haven’t slept without sleeping pills for a while, and feel like you have no drive to do anything at all, turn to a psychologist. In most cases, the problem can be solved rather quickly, so you’ll see the effect after the first therapy session. Don’t be afraid of psychiatrists: there are many doctors who treat their patients’ health with respect and they can really help, especially if their patients are willing to be treated. It’s more difficult to deal with those who don’t think they’re sick. Do what you really like. This is one of the main principles that helps one to get rid of low self-esteem and out of a neurotic state. For example, in a short time, you can achieve great results at work even if you hadn’t been doing what you liked from the beginning. Follow a comfortable schedule. The body works best if most of your sleep lasts from 10 PM to 3 AM. It’s the time when the hormone that relieves us of stress is mainly produced. It’s recommended to perform work involving the brain’s activity in the first half of the day and leave the second half of the day for physical activities. Thus, you let both your brain and body get enough rest. Surround yourself with things that calm you down and give you joy. Go for a walk more often. After a long working day, listening to sounds that help you relax can stabilize your breath and heart rate, according to scientists. Avoid nasty people even if they’re your relatives and spend more time with those who share pleasant emotions with you. Don’t forget to partake in sports.
Keeping calm and finding a path to yourself is a complicated task. What methods help you recharge your internal batteries and find an inner balance?
Preview photo credit NoJin / Wikimedia, Manfred Werner – Tsui / Wikimedia