Mood disorders, a major health issue

Source: By Dr. Siva Sivakantha | By I.G. Bhatkali | Published on 16th November 2019, 2:54 PM | Coastal News | Special Report |

Mood disorders are the commonest mental health issues seen among the general public. Such patients are usually referred to primary care general medicine doctors, who treat them  and, if required, direct them to the psychiatry department. Among mood disorders the commonest are anxiety disorders and depression.

Mood disorders are among the first ten global public health issues. Hence the impact of such disorders on morbidity, mortality, public health services, finance and manpower are significantly high. It is widely prevalent among people of all age groups, gender, race and economic status. Consulting a doctor and adequately addressing the issue will help in alleviating the problem and help the individual concerned to come back to normal life. If not, the condition could worsen and significantly impact his or her personal and social life, occupation, education and so on. In India mood disorders are,  in general,  under-diagnosed, and patients do not get appropriate treatment. Other than the stigma involved, ignorance and being in denial are the reasons for not seeking help. Public awareness is the key. Training teachers, students, health service providers as well as other public service providers will help in early diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Also, if patients who have received treatment and have recovered share their experience with others, that will help to a great extent in getting rid of the social stigma. An individual’s quality of life would depend on his or her physical as well as mental health.

Just addressing one and not the other could jeopardise both.   

Concerns about social media
There are concerns about the excessive use of social media causing mental health issues. Though there is no conclusive evidence, the general consensus is that this would affect health in general. There are case reports about behavioural issues occurring among children and adolescents, decline in academic standard, and mood changes because of the excessive exposure to social media. However, we have to keep in mind that social media can also be used as a therapeutic tool to build social and family support network, especially for the elderly and the home bound. It can also be used effectively to create public awareness about health education and also create support network for the mentally ill.

Medication and psychological help
The primary healthcare modality in treating mood disorders comprises medications and psychological therapy. The outcome of this combination seems to be better than resorting to only one of the two. There have been immense advances made in the past two to three decades in the field of medications, and now many new medicines are available that can effectively alleviate mood disorders with minimal or negligible adverse effects. Medications are highly effective in majority of the cases, and when combined with therapy, long term recovery seems to be possible. It has been found that owing to their robust effect, any of these newer medicines, can effectively be used to treat patients in a short period of time, and usually in 2 to 3 months’ time, patients have been reported to have shown significant improvement in their mood and daily function. Among the different modalities of therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has beenfound to be the most effective in treating mood disorders. Through CBT, patients are trained to recognise their negative thoughts, and by changing them to positive thoughts, patients are able to regulate their mood, behaviour and actions. CBT comprises a holistic approach in which maintaining physical health, exercise, yoga/meditation, taking up
hobbies and a positive lifestyle are stressed. Here at Indiana Hospital, we provide all modalities of treatment including medication, CBT, and when appropriate, other forms of therapies as well. These include educating the patient as well his or her family, which involves care givers and family in treatment. The hospital also addresses co-morbid medical related issues (many adults tend to have medical issues along with depression), and substance/alcohol/drugs issues and their impact on mental health. We also undertake grief counselling, marital or couple counselling, dress personality disorders, identify stressors, and in a healthy manner, help patients to improve their self-esteem, self-assertiveness, as well as identify their role in inter-personal relationships.

Writer of this article Dr. Siva Sivakantha is an MBBS, MD (PSYCHIATRY), associated with Indiana Hospital  & Heart Institute , Mangaluru, as Consultant Psychiatrist.

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