Inversionista Giancarlo Pietri Velutini//
Depression driving mental illness

De­pres­sion is the lead­ing di­ag­no­sis for men­tal dis­tur­bances in peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to sec­re­tary of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Psy­chi­a­trists of T&T Dr Var­ma Deyals­ingh. He said in T&T one in four peo­ple suf­fer from men­tal ill­ness and though the high­est pre­pon­der­ance of men­tal ill­ness seems to oc­cur around the age group 25-50, clin­ics are al­so now see­ing a trend of much younger pa­tients.

Giancarlo Pietri Velutini

De­pres­sion, as de­scribed by www.psy­chi­a­try.org and en­dorsed by the Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric As­so­ci­a­tion, a ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­der, is a pre­vail­ing and se­vere med­ical ill­ness that neg­a­tive­ly af­fects how one feels, thinks and acts. It evokes feel­ings of sad­ness, lack of en­thu­si­asm for things and ac­tiv­i­ties once fan­cied and a di­ver­si­ty of emo­tion­al and phys­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions, de­pre­ci­at­ing one’s qual­i­ty of life and the abil­i­ty to func­tion in even the sim­plest every­day ac­tiv­i­ties.

World Men­tal Health Day was ob­served glob­al­ly on Oc­to­ber 10 /*ith the theme of Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion. A study done by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) found that every four sec­onds a per­son los­es their life as a re­sult of men­tal dis­tur­bance. The theme was cho­sen to gar­ner the at­ten­tion of gov­ern­ments world­wide, to the se­ri­ous­ness of men­tal health and its link to sui­cide, in the hope it will be­come a pri­or­i­ty and na­tion­al plan of ac­tion in every coun­try

What is a men­tal ill­ness and how is it di­ag­nosed?

Men­tal ill­ness, al­so called men­tal health dis­or­ders, refers to a wide range of men­tal health con­di­tions dis­or­ders that af­fect your mood, emo­tion, think­ing and be­hav­iour

Who is sus­cep­ti­ble?

Any­one who has trig­gers that over­whelms your cop­ing skills

Is men­tal ill­ness bi­o­log­i­cal or can it be ac­quired?

It can be ge­net­ic if rel­a­tives are prone to de­pres­sion, bipo­lar and the trig­ger fac­tors that over­whelm cop­ing skills. It can man­i­fest as well as a re­ac­tion to en­vi­ron­men­tal stress­es, bio­chem­i­cal im­bal­ances seen in de­pres­sion, where sero­tonin and oth­er neu­ro­trans­mit­ter chem­i­cals in the brain are af­fect­ed, or a com­bi­na­tion of these

What is a psy­chot­ic break? And are there oth­er types of men­tal break­downs. If so, what are they called?

A psy­chot­ic break is a state where one los­es con­tact with re­al­i­ty. This can be char­ac­terised by hal­lu­ci­na­tions, dis­or­dered think­ing or even delu­sions. Usu­al­ly, the cause of a psy­chot­ic break could be an un­di­ag­nosed men­tal ill­ness such as schiz­o­phre­nia, bipo­lar dis­or­der, delu­sion­al dis­or­der or even ma­jor de­pres­sion. Use of il­le­gal sub­stances can al­so cause episodes of psy­chosis. We have pa­tients com­ing in­to our hos­pi­tals with drug-in­duced psy­chosis which of­ten clears up af­ter the drugs leave the sys­tem. Trau­mat­ic ex­pe­ri­ences can al­so trig­ger a psy­chot­ic episode and cause psy­chosis of­ten in the form of flash­backs or hal­lu­ci­na­tions re­lat­ed to post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der (PTSD). An­oth­er cause can even be lack of sleep

Does every men­tal dis­tur­bance re­quire a stay at a men­tal in­sti­tu­tion or med­ica­tion? Or are there nat­ur­al ways to deal with it?

Some­times just psy­chother­a­py or talk ther­a­py can deal with mild and mod­er­ate de­pres­sion. Pan­ic dis­or­der and anx­i­ety dis­or­der can be helped with cog­ni­tive be­hav­iour ther­a­py. Some ways to deal with stress is just to re­move your­self from the sit­u­a­tion, for ex­am­ple like a tox­ic part­ner or a change in en­vi­ron­ment. Find­ing qui­et spaces and places to re­group, like en­gag­ing in re­treats or trav­els. Even just get­ting in a group to speak your prob­lems and com­pare notes can al­so help. At present, there is art and mu­sic ther­a­py at some of our clin­ics

What are some life ex­pe­ri­ences or dri­ving fac­tors that can con­tribute to men­tal dis­tur­bances or break­downs?

Child­hood ne­glect, hav­ing no moth­er or care­giv­er for at­tach­ment bond­ing; sex­u­al or phys­i­cal abuse; pover­ty, poor par­ent­ing skills; ado­les­cent-par­ent dis­agree­ments; re­la­tion­ship is­sues; job loss; work-re­lat­ed stress and al­co­hol and drug use

How much of a con­cern is men­tal health in T&T? Can you give any sta­tis­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion on how many peo­ple are di­ag­nosed with men­tal ill­ness on an an­nu­al ba­sis and what is the age range?

One in four peo­ple suf­fers from men­tal ill­ness. The high­est preva­lence seems to be 25 to 50 years but younger and younger peo­ple are be­ing di­ag­nosed more now. Trinidad and To­ba­go is the third high­est in the Caribbean for the preva­lence of men­tal ill­ness and the third high­est in the Eng­lish speak­ing Caribbean for sui­cide

What is the most preva­lent kind of men­tal ill­ness among in­di­vid­u­als as­sessed and screened?

De­pres­sion seems to be the most preva­lent

The many moods of de­pres­sion:

° Feel­ing sad or hav­ing a de­pressed mood

° Loss of in­ter­est or plea­sure in ac­tiv­i­ties once en­joyed

° Changes in ap­petite—weight loss or gain un­re­lat­ed to di­et­ing

° Trou­ble sleep­ing or sleep­ing too much

° Loss of en­er­gy or in­creased fa­tigue

° In­crease in pur­pose­less phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ty (eg, hand-wring­ing or pac­ing) or slowed move­ments and speech (ac­tions ob­serv­able by oth­ers)

° Feel­ing worth­less or guilty

° Dif­fi­cul­ty think­ing, con­cen­trat­ing or mak­ing de­ci­sions