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Mental Health Series

UNDERSTANDING “MIDLIFE CRISIS”

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In a recent engagement, an issue was brought up in reference to many in the 40s whom are behaving somewhat abnormally. One cited example was the one of a 42 year old whom suddenly became fashion conscious going along with the current trends and clubbing endlessly!

Many were of the view that such individuals should be classified as having a mental health disorder whilst others were of the view that it is inconsequential and it is only people putting themselves under pressure with unachievable targets.

The sudden behaviour and habit change can be alluded to the phenomena “midlife crisis.” It is life transition stage occurring at around the ages of 40 which in women is often linked to menopause. During this phase you practically have no one to mentor or coach you and everything is upon you.

Constant regret and feelings of failure take centre stage as many will look at the prospects of retiring soon yet have nothing to show for many years worked! It is characterised by changing your entire life in a haste trying to compensate for the past failures.

Individuals experience a decline in career prospects, have self-doubt over the future, have increased physical problems and have increased fear of aging (some literally dye hair). Other manifestation may include the following;

Job changes(venturing into a different job altogether)
Poor interpersonal relations
Marital problems
Adoption of strange lifestyle

The consequence of this may result in excessive use of alcohol and other substances. There may be also incidences of anxiety and depression as a result of this transition.

Whilst this is not a mental disorder per se, psychological counselling maybe of help to those whom may be overwhelmed by the transition especially those with depression and abusing substances.

What is paramount though is that we should all be content with what we have and have achieved, also have realistic set targets for the future. Age should never determine success or failure!

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Mental Health Series

WOMEN AND MENTAL HEALTH

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March the 8th marked the International Women’s Day under the theme ‘balance for better”. “The Mental Health Series” would like to glorify all women and bring to the fore pertinent issues in relation to their mental health.

Women to a greater extent are affected by mental health problems more than men. Notably depression and anxiety are the commonest mental disorders that affect women. According to the World Health Organisation, depressive disorders account for close to 41.9% of disability from neuropsychiatric disorders among women compared to 29.3% of men.

Apart from gender specific determinants, a lot of socio-economic factors make women susceptible to having mental health problems. Women incur pressures from their many roles especially as single parents in many of the households. Gender discrimination in the workplace and political sphere, violence in various forms, sexual abuse, income inequality and poverty all account for the development of mental illness in women. Women also experience bullying in social media which as well can lead to lead to mental illness.

We all need to acknowledge the risk factors to mental illness that are peculiar to women and find ways to mitigate against them. Women often find it essential to seek health services and thus need to be encouraged to continue the feat as that will go a long way in helping women. We indeed need to balance for better the programmes that can empower women and serve as protective barriers from development of mental illness.

Women should have equal opportunities for economic growth, jobs and enabled to lead as that will augur well for their mental health. A worrisome issue in sport is the income inequality which renders women as inferior; has to be addressed as a matter of urgency!

There is need to nurture the mental health of women. It is nigh men reflect and do away with gender based violence. The effects of violence are far reaching hence the need to change for upliftment of mental health.

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Mental Health Series

WHAT REALLY CAUSES MENTAL ILLNESS?

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Over the weekend, one reader put it to me that I explain if indeed witchcraft causes mental illness.

My position was that I cannot confirm or deny that witchcraft does cause mental illness. However, it is an open fact that there is no exact cause for mental health disorders but there are various risk factors that can lead to development of mental illnesses. Research does indicate that many of the mental health conditions are caused by a combination of environmental, biological and psychological factors.

Like many of the diseases, mental illnesses as well have a genetic predisposition meaning the illness runs across families. This is suggestive of the fact that if one has a family member with mental illness, there are highly likely to develop one themselves because it has been passed through genes. Having genes for mental illness does not translate to the conclusion that one will have the illness as there are also environmental factors needed to trigger the illness. Brain injuries have been seen to facilitate the development of mental illness.

For example, people who have incurred brain injuries often display aggressiveness which could be linked to certain areas of the brain being affected. Some individuals develop mental illnesses as a result of factors during birth and childhood. A case point is when an infant is deprived of oxygen during a difficult delivery; mental health problems like autism spectrum disorders may suffice. Malnutrition during child development may hinder brain development hence development of some mental illnesses. We previously discussed how poor attachment goes on to facilitate development of mental health problems later on in life.

Substance use has an influence in many of the mental disorders. Illnesses like anxiety, depression, paranoid schizophrenia are somewhat influenced by long term substance use even though there may be other influencing factors as well. Lastly relationship problems, marital problems, work stressors, marital problems and poverty have all been seen to influence mental illness development. Mental illness is complex. We all need to acknowledge the fact that it is an illness like any other and avoid myths surrounding the illness as they are not in any way helping!

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