Imagine a scenario where you’re perfectly fine. Physically, you’re in the best shape of your life. Medical reports are all clear, there are no health concerns. Yet, you don’t feel fine. There’s something wrong, which you cannot put your finger on. Alternating moods of depression and mania drive you crazy. You look around for someone to confide in, but why would anyone believe you? You’ve been perfectly healthy all this while, why would anyone suspect anything wrong?
Thus, you’re left fighting the illness alone.
Mental illness dramatically differed from physical illness. One manifests itself in the body. Symptoms are present, which tell you what you’re afflicted with. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that a runny nose coupled with a lot of sneezing and fever means you’re down with the flue. Similarly, there are chances you throw out your back, lifting something heavy, or you contract, in the worst of cases, an STD. You still have something tangible to take to the doctor, who, after a thorough evaluation of your condition, will prescribe medication.
You cannot treat depression in the same way as you would treat a gunshot wound.
Personality disorders, and anxiety disorders together with depressions are learned behaviours. These manifest over a period of time, and do not occur suddenly one day. This is one of the primary differences between mental and physical disorders. One does not know how to deal with sudden anxiety or a panic attack if one has not had it before.
The level of patience that people exhibit when recovering from a physical illness is much higher when compared to mental illness. For example, you would be patient for a week, if your spouse was in bed because of the flu. Now, imagine a scenario that your spouse does not leave bed for a week. There’s seemingly nothing wrong with him/her at the physical level. There is just the feeling of being “down”. It takes a great deal of patience to understand that this might be due to a mental disorder. It could be bipolar disorder, where a person experiences depression and mania in alternate phases.
Most importantly, some insurance policies have certain terms and conditions when it comes to providing coverage for mental illnesses. In general, it is easier to claim insurance for a physical ailment than it is for a mental illness.
There are many points of difference between mental and physical illness. One must keep in mind, that anything to do with the mind requires professional help, and cannot be treated with OTC medication like a common cold.
It is important to carry out a thorough professional evaluation by a seasoned mental health professional, should one come across signs of being mentally ill.
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