No matter how much we learn about mental illness, its causes and its uncontrollable nature, it is still a stigma for the sufferer. They’re not just wracked by mental demons, they also have to deal with being ostracized by society and sometimes even their family members. Some forms of mental illness are caused by old age – Alzheimer’s and dementia are now becoming even more common nowadays; others are caused by trauma – the sudden loss of loved ones through accidents or breakdown of relationships leads people to act irrationally and become mentally affected; and yet others come about because of neglect and loneliness – people who live alone with hardly any contact with fellow human beings tend to become mentally unstable and forget their people skills over a period of time.
Whatever the reason for mental illness, it is imperative that the affected person be treated immediately. Drugs and therapy are two standard and well-accepted forms of treatment for mental illnesses ranging from dementia to depression. However, there are other alternative treatment forms that are competent and free of the side effects that are associated with drugs, and if the patient is open to trying them, they can be used effectively to help improve the quality of their life:
• Emotional conditioning: The condition of people with depression and similar forms of mental illness improves when you’re able to infuse in them some self-confidence and the ability to believe in themselves. This mental conditioning can be done by a qualified therapist, or better still, by the loving care and support offered by friends, family members and co-workers. The patient needs to be encouraged to take up activities that boost their feeling of well-being and their happiness quotient – if they are creative, they could paint or write; if they like physical activity, exercise and chores like gardening help relax both body and mind; and if work helps, they can be encouraged to keep busy at the office. The key to emotional conditioning is that it has to be tailored according to each individual, based on what they like and are comfortable doing.
• Yoga, acupuncture and other complementary methods: Some people find that yoga, Ayurveda, acupuncture and other traditional practices of medicine help people with mental illness when used in conjunction with their regular medication. They’re able to relax and avoid the thoughts that drive them to depression or manic behavior. They gain more control over their bodies and their minds. And they feel at peace with themselves and the world at large.
• Social activities: Most forms of mental illness are caused by loneliness or a sense of being unloved and unwanted. An active social life helps prevent the onset of such kinds of depression and also helps alleviate mental illness when it starts to manifest itself. When you stay active and meet and interact with people on a professional and personal basis, you feel good about yourself and your brain gets a positive boost of uplifting energy.
Besides this, the right diet and nutrition and regular exercise can help bring about some routine to a mentally ill person’s life and hasten their journey back to normalcy.
This guest post is contributed by Maryanne Osberg, who writes on the topic of RN to MSN Online. She can be reached at mary.anne579(AT)gmail(DOT)com.