Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are disorders of brain function. They have many causes and result from complex interactions between a person’s genes and their environment. Having a mental illness is not a choice or moral failing. Mental illnesses occur at similar rates around the world, in every culture and in all socio-economic groups. The statistics are staggering, 1 in 5 young people suffer from a mental illness, that’s 20 percent of our population but yet only about 4 percent of the total health care budget is spent on our mental health.

The impact is more than in statistics and factoids, it’s in feelings and emotions.

It’s in our families, with our friends and in our communities. Having a mental disorder should not be any different than experiencing a physical illness. And it doesn’t have to be; you can help make a difference.

Mental Health Practitioner
Mental Health Practitioner Christel Maritz +27 72 242 5857

A mental illness makes the things you do in life hard, like: work, school and socializing with other people. If you think you (or someone you know) might have a mental disorder, it is best to consult a professional as soon as possible. Early identification and effective intervention is the key to successfully treating the disorder and preventing future disability. As a health care professional we can connect the symptoms and experiences the patient is having with recognized diagnostic criteria  help formulate a diagnosis.

As a parent, there are few things more difficult than seeing your loved once suffer and not being able to fix it.

Watching your loved once deal with depression in particular can leave you feeling helpless and frustrated. But while mental illness might not be something you can make go away, there are things you can do to be supportive and help them get through it.

As a health care professional, I Christel Maritz  – as a Psychologist – can connect the symptoms and experiences you are having and with recognized diagnostic criteria help formulate a diagnosis. If you feel Overwhelm you can contact me and together we can embark on finding your solutions. Don’t let a mental illness be the end of your world.


When is a feeling a mental health problem?

When we experience mental health problems, our day-to-day lives and our relationships with those around us can suffer.

We all have bad days and times when things are not going right for us. That is just part of life and nothing to get worried about.Christel Maritz Psychologist

However, there are times when those bad days turn into bad weeks and we can begin to feel stuck.

mental health problemS?

It can be considered a ‘mental health problem’ when our feelings, thoughts, beliefs or behaviour negatively affect our day-to-day lives and activities and we cannot seem to, or don’t know how to, move past those feelings, thoughts, beliefs or behaviour.

Mental health problems can range from temporary feelings of stress or depression to longer term feelings of deep depression, despair or anxiety. In more extreme cases, it can seem like someone is losing touch with reality, at least in the eyes of other people.

There are a number of different ways of understanding mental health problems.

Some people believe that a medical understanding of mental health problems is the most valid approach. Others believe that a social understanding, taking account of life circumstances, should come first.

Causes of mental health problems

Mental health problems can affect absolutely any of us. While it’s not always know what causes a mental health problem, there are number of factors associated with the onset of a mental health problem.

Some of these factors include:

Stressful life events – stressful experiences like grief or loss, experiencing violence or a traumatic accident may trigger mental health problems.

Family environment – if people grow up in a family where they never felt loved or cared for or have been abused, this can affect mental health. Sometimes parents themselves felt unloved or had problems growing up and therefore may not know how to show love or care to their own children.

Drug abuse and alcohol – there is a relationship between drug and alcohol abuse and mental health problems, it’s not always clear which comes first though.

Family history – many mental health problems are related to family history whether based on genetics (nature) or experience (nurture) – meaning if a family member has a mental health problem, others in the family may be at higher risk of experiencing one as well.

Signs to look out for:

  •  Increased stress
  • Anxiety or unexplained fear
  • Withdrawal from friends, family or social activities
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness.

It is normal for our attitudes, mood and behaviours to change from time-to-time.MH

But, if you notice any of the above signs in yourself or someone you know that last for a couple of weeks or longer, it is important to act on those concerns.

Reaching out

Acting on concerns about a mental health problem will usually mean reaching out for some extra support. That support can come from many different places.

It can mean speaking to a trusted friend or a family member or it could also mean accessing support service in the community or speaking with a GP.

The source of support will depend on the nature of the problem and personal circumstances. Whatever support is used a starting point, the earlier you get support, the better.

Different types of mental health problem

There are hundreds of different ‘labels’ put on mental health problems. While some people don’t like the idea of putting a label on mental health problems, others find it reassuring and helpful to be able to describe what they are feeling or experiencing.

Some common terms used in describing mental health problems include:

Anxiety – which can be described as an uncomfortable and sometimes irrational feeling of fear or dread usually brought on by specific situations or circumstances e.g. social situations.

Depression – the word ‘depression’ is sometimes used to describe everyday feelings of sadness. Depression is also a clinical term used by doctors and other health professionals to describe an ongoing experience of low mood and other symptoms such as poor appetite, disturbed sleep, waking early and a lack of interest in everyday activities and hobbies.

Eating disorders – are complicated and severe disturbances in eating behaviours which can involve eating too little and an unhealthy obsession with wanting to be thin. They can also involve binge-eating, sometimes with strong feelings of guilt and the need to get rid of the food.

Bipolar – in clinical settings ‘bipolar disorder’ replaced the term ‘manic depression’. It is usually associated with fairly extreme ups and downs that are sometimes described as ‘mood episodes’.

Schizophrenia – schizophrenia describes a mental health problem involving disturbances in a person’s thoughts, perceptions, emotions and behaviour. It can involve hallucinations and the appearance of being out of touch with reality.

Hearing voices – there are other ways of understanding or describing mental health problems and some people who might be given a diagnosis of schizophrenia because they have hallucinations or hear voices others don’t hear, prefer to identify as ‘voice hearers’.

Getting support for a mental health problem

Whatever the issue, whether it has been going on for a short while or for longer, whether it only impacts your life a little or a lot, get some support.

Speak with a friend, a family member or someone else you trust. Support can also mean ‘self-help’ which might simply involve doing things that make you feel better.

Getting past a mental health problem, or learning to cope with the experience of having an ongoing mental health problem, is a journey. However small the first step is, it doesn’t matter, just take it, begin your journey.

Step-by-step, mental health problems can be tackled. The earlier we start tackling them, the better.

If you feel overwhelmed please contact me and together we can work towards inner healing.Christel Maritz Psychologist Somerset West

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Many studies have identified a strong link between suicide and diagnosable mental illness, especially depression. So because women suffer from depression at a much higher rate than men, they would seem to be at higher risk for suicide. But women actually commit suicide about one-fourth as often as men.

Writing in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry, George E. Murphy, M.D., an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says that women may be protected because of the way they think about problems and interact with others.

“Women process their experiences with friends. They discuss their feelings, seek feedback and take advice,” Murphy says. “They are much more likely to tell a physician how they feel and cooperate in the prescribed treatment. As a result, women get better treatment for their depression.”

That treatment may help protect them from suicide, but Murphy says there is more to it. The approach to problem-solving is what lands a woman in a psychiatrist’s office in the first place. And that approach may be keeping female suicide rates lower than those of men.

Suicide vs. attempted suicide

There are roughly 30,000 suicides in the United States each year, and three-fourths of those are men. But the number of attempted suicides is at least 10 times that, and even that estimate may be low because many suicide attempts are euphemistically classified as lacerations or accidental poisonings when patients receive treatment in hospital emergency rooms.christel maritz psychologist

Although suicide rates are lower among women, women lead men two to one in suicide attempts. So, Murphy says at least 200,000 women are involved in suicide attempts annually. But he points out that attempted suicide most often is not an attempt to actually end one’s life. Its purpose, he says, is to survive with changed circumstances.

“An attempted suicide is not really an attempt at suicide in about 95 percent of cases. It is a different phenomenon. It’s most often an effort to bring someone’s attention, dramatically, to a problem that the individual feels needs to be solved. Suicide contains a solution in itself,” he says.

In attempted suicide, both men and women tend to use methods that allow for second thoughts or rescue. Murphy says that when people intend to survive, they choose a slowly effective, or ineffective, means such as an overdose of sleeping pills. That contrasts to the all-or-nothing means like gunshots or hanging used by actual suicides.

In the past, researchers who looked at the high rate of attempted suicide in women concluded that women were just not as efficient as men at taking their own lives. Murphy calls that “sexist baloney” and points to statistics that show that like men, women who commit suicide most often use guns. However, even as the number of women using the most lethal means increases, the suicide rate in women has slowly declined.

“So it really goes back to the same thing — that women, when they intend to do it, can be just as effective as men in committing suicide. But they aren’t so inclined,” Murphy says.

Cognitive differences

Murphy believes women are less inclined to commit suicide because their thinking is more inclusive. While a man might tend to throw aside seemingly peripheral issues to get to the core of a problem, a woman might take more things into account. She may continue to seek input and process problems long after the point where men decide on a course of action.

“She’ll consider not just her feelings but also the feelings of others — her family, the children, even acquaintances, and how those people will be affected by a decision like suicide,” Murphy says. “A man is much less likely to take those things into account. He makes his decision, and it’s about him, so he doesn’t feel the need to share it with anyone else.”

But before they ever get to the point of considering suicide, Murphy says, women are much more likely to seek help with their problems. The classic example is asking for directions when driving. Many men refuse to do that, perhaps seeing it as an admission of weakness. They believe they are supposed to be competent in all areas. Because they are not, they are at risk. Women, on the other hand, are much more likely to seek advice and take it.

Even though depressed or alcoholic men are less likely to look for help, it still may be possible to prevent many suicides, Murphy believes. He says alert physicians might be able to pick up on risk factors and refer men into treatment to help them look for ways to solve their problems without ending their lives.

“Half of all people who commit suicide have seen a physician within a month of their fatal act,” he says. “Mostly they didn’t get diagnosed, and if they did, they didn’t get treated very vigorously.”

That requires recognition that depressed men may understate their pain or their difficulty with a particular problem. Murphy says such recognition is essential if men are ever to benefit from the treatments that protect women from suicide. Murphy and the late Eli Robins, M.D., conducted the first comprehensive study of suicide 40 years ago, studying every suicide that occurred in St. Louis and St. Louis County during a one-year period.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Washington University In St. Louis.

Sleep contributes to overall happiness!

Sleep contributes to overall happiness!  Is chronic sleep problems adding to you being tired, crabby, irritable and not productive, contributing to your mood disorder.  Sleep problems are especially common in individuals who have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.

According to a Harvard Health Publication, chronic sleep problems affect 50 percent to 80 percent of patients in a mental health practice and only 10 percent to 18 percent of adults in the general public.  Sleep problems are especially common in individuals who have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. Did you know?

• 65 percent to 90 percent of Individuals clinically diagnosed with major depressive disorder have sleep problems.

• 90 percent of children diagnosed with depression experience a sleep problem.

• Evidence suggest that individuals with depression and sleep problems are less likely to respond to treatment than those who have no sleep problems.

• Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder are 69 percent to 99 percent more likely to experience insomnia while experiencing a manic episode. However, when an individual experiences a depressive episode (bipolar depression) 23 percent to 78 percent of those same individuals sleep excessively.

• 50 percent of individuals clinically diagnosed with anxiety experience difficulty falling asleep.

Treating sleep problems may alleviate or reduce mental health symptoms. An overtired adult is no different than an overtired child — tired and crabby, irritable and not productive, which contributes to mood and behaviors. What does sleep do? Every 90 minutes a normal sleeper changes between two categories; “quiet” sleep and REM (rapid eye movement sleep). During quiet sleep, an individual’s body temperature drops, muscles relax and breathing slows down. This stage of sleep actually boost an individual’s immune system. This is where the body truly rests and rejuvenates.

Following a few behavioral changes that can be implemented to benefit your overall happiness and well-being.

• Restrict or limit alcohol and nicotine. Did you know that alcohol and nicotine contributes to sleeplessness? Alcohol initially depresses the nervous system, which helps some people fall asleep, but the effects wear off in a few hours and people wake up. Nicotine is a stimulant, which speeds heart rate and thinking. Avoiding these substances is best, but not using them before bedtime is another option.

• Start moving. Exercising regularly can help with sleep patterns. People who exercise fall asleep faster and spend more time in deep sleep.

• Create good sleep habits. Many experts believe that people learn insomnia and can learn how to sleep better. Having good “sleep hygiene” includes maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping or sex, and keeping the bedroom dark and free of electronics.

• Get into a state of relaxation. Using relaxation techniques such as meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation (alternately tensing and releasing muscles) can help reduce anxiety and slow down your thought process as you prepare for sleep.

• Changing negative expectations. If a person has insomnia, they may have a tendency to focus on the fact they can’t fall asleep. By using cognitive behavioral techniques, individuals can try to change negative expectations and build more confidence that they can have a good night’s sleep.

Eight hours of sleep, especially if taking medication is recommended. Sleep is vital to healthy growth and development. It also is necessary to maintain mood and stress level.


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