Mental illness has become a common ailment that affects a large number of people in Australia. The situation has been worsened by the challenges facing people in their day-to-day endeavors such as drug abuse, medications, conflicts, personal problems, chronic illnesses, genetics, and many more. Mental illness is a serious condition that can negatively impact on the mental and physical health of an individual. Therefore, any case of mental illness should be taken seriously by adopting an appropriate treatment and management strategies that can put the patient in the right path of recovery and restoring the health status. This is what Mary deserves because, after enjoying a happier life, she suddenly changes at the age of 41 years when her mental situation worsens. Instead of living comfortably with her family, Mary is troubled because she sees no reason for living normally as a wife, mother and a responsible employee she used to be. This paper uses the case of Mary to explain much about mental illness.
Mary’s Mental Illness
From the information presented in the case study, it is evident that Mary has a serious case of depression. By simple definition, depression refers to a mental condition in which results into emotional anguish in an individual. A person suffering from depression can experience a lot of changes in the physical and mental health such as withdrawal, isolation, anxiety, and chronic physical conditions. As a serious mental condition, research has proven that depression is caused by a large number of factors: death of a loved one; genetics; serious illnesses; personal problems; conflicts; certain medications; stressful life events: and emotional, sexual and physical abuse (Schlicht, Morgan, Fuller, Coates & Dunbar 2013).
From the information provided in the case study, it can be deduced that Mary is at a high risk of contracting depression because of different reasons. First, she has inherited the condition from her parents. Given that research has established that such a mental condition can be transmitted along the family tree, it is no doubt that Mary has inherited the same from her biological mother who is known to have lived with the condition for 35 years. This implies that there are certain depression genes that were transmitted to Mary by her mother. However, her vulnerability intensified when she kept on interacting with the depressed mother on day-to-day basis (Lowe, Plummer & Boyd 2013).
The other possible cause of Mary’s mental illness is stressful personal experiences. Although Mary is known to have lived a fulfilled life, she gets depressed because she cannot bear with the situation at hand. She feels withdrawn because of her belief that she has become a burden to her family. May be, she has been frustrated in her workplace because of the heavy duties and responsibilities she performs daily (Otte, Wingenfeld, Kuehl, Richter, Regen, Piber & Hinkelmann 2015). Also, she might have the same feelings because all her family members are more successful than her. Therefore, she might feel inferior and less important. This simply shows that Mary has personal problems that might increase her vulnerability to this kind of mental disorder.
Last, but not least, Mary’s mental status can be linked to her medical history. From the information provided so far, it is clear that the patient has a history of depression. The fact that Mary had been diagnosed with clinical depression 2 years ago complicates her situation. The medications given to her might have put her at a risk of contracting the condition later in life. This is possible because researchers have found out that the eruption of depression can be linked to certain medications such as acne, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, zentane, anticholinergics, morpine, and absorica that are used for treating different kinds of illnesses affecting human beings (Schlicht, Morgan, Fuller, Coates & Dunbar 2013). Therefore, the use of medications like Citalopram might have complicated Mary’s situation by making her vulnerable to depression.
Effects of Depression on Mary’s Physical Health
The report from Mary’s husband clearly demonstrates that the mental condition, in which Mary is in, has greatly impacted on her health. Just like any other mental disorder patient, Mary is obviously at a risk of a numerous health challenges. First, she has lost her sleep. As pointed out by her husband, Mary does not enjoy her sleep as she used to do earlier. The lack of sleep experienced by Mary has been caused by the depressive conditions she has been experiencing. According to scientific research, depression deprives one from sleeping because of the changes it causes in the brain. When suffering from depression, Mary’s brain cannot function in a normal way (Lowe, Plummer & Boyd 2013). The changes in the functioning of the brain affect a neurotransmitter known as serotonin which of course hinders her ability to sleep well. It is for this reason that Mary has been found to be awake and only staring at the bedroom windows at the time when she is supposed to be deep asleep.
The other effect of depression that Mary is likely to undergo is loss of appetite and sex drive. Once her brain is interfered with, it cannot function normally. As a result, it cannot perform its functions because of the impairment of the Central Nervous System (CNS). For example, the interference with the activities of neurotransmitters can lead to appetite and sex loss (Morse, Salyers & lins 2012). Meaning, Mary will not be in a position of feeling hungry and having the drive to eat food. The same will happen to her sexual life because she will lose interest in sex and have no urge to engage in sexual affairs as she is supposed to do as a normal human being.
In addition, Mary’s metal illness will affect her by making her to feel a lot of pain in her body (Palagini, Gemignani & Guazzelli 2012). The changes experienced in the CNS can expose the patient to other risks such as excessive pains. This may occur because the alteration in the brain functioning can make the pain receptors to be too sensitive to pain to the extent that any small pain can be magnified in the body (Harrison, Hauck & Hoffman 20140. Although the pain receptors play a significant role in detecting pain stimuli, any such alterations can make them to fail to effectively perform their functions. The multiplication of the levels of pain can affect the patient because it can make her to undergo painful experiences like back pain, an unfortunate situation that might deprive her of happiness and prevent her from leading a comfortable life like other members of her family.
Finally, Mary’s condition can expose her to a wide range of physical illnesses. Topping the list of such illnesses is heart diseases such as heart attack, congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, and coronary heart disease. These are illnesses that are linked to the changes in cholesterol and blood pressure. Therefore, given the changes made on blood pressure by depression, a patient becomes vulnerable to such conditions (Brunero & Stein-Parbury 2007). The other physical illness that might result from depression is substance abuse. The poor status of Mary can lure her into drug use with the belief that it will enable her to deal with her stressful situation. If not checked in time, the drug use can result into the addiction of the patient. So, if no immediate intervention measures are taken, Mary might be at a real risk of suffering from these conditions.
Having enumerated the above conditions, it can be concluded that Mary’s mental illness has a direct impact on her physical health. This can be explained in many ways. The reason is that chronic physical conditions from which Mary might be suffering are caused because of the fact that such conditions rely on poor mental health as a risk factor. Research has proven that the individuals suffering from mental conditions are usually more vulnerable to chronic physical illnesses like heart diseases. This happens because the presence of mental illnesses interferes with the body’s immune system, an unfortunate change that makes the body susceptible to physical illnesses because it renders the body defenseless (Chu, Yang, Lin, Ou, Lee, O'Brien & Chou 2013). When the body has a dysfunctional immune system, it becomes defenseless and cannot operate well to protect the body from any illnesses that might affect it. Meaning, the situation becomes worse as it creates room for the existing and other opportunistic diseases.
Management Strategies for Mental Illness
The fact that mental illness adversely affects the body in different ways necessitates that it should be properly managed. Therefore, having been found to be behaving in a strange manner because of her poor state of mental health, Mary deserves to be offered an immediate medical intervention. If this is done, the patient can be empowered to manage her conditions and be in the right path of recovery to regain her health (Willis, Reynolds & Keleher, 2016). Therefore, to do this, the following measures should be taken:
Most importantly, Mary should be given an opportunity to acquire medical intervention. Apart from relying on her GP, Mary should acquire adequate support from her family members (Leontjevas, Gerritsen, Smalbrugge, Teerenstra, Vernooij-Dassen & Koopmans 2013). Should this happen, Mary would get to acquire important mental illness management strategies as outlined herein:
First, Mary should be supported to adopt lifestyle change. To do so, she should be helped to make the following changes in her lifestyle:
Active Engagement in Physical Exercises: It is recommended that a mental illness patient should take some time to participate in physical activities. This is what Mary should be advised to do because it has lots benefits for her. In the first place, physical fitness can enable Mary to relieve her of depression because it has a potential of acting in a similar manner like antidepressant which has a potential of triggering the growth of the development of new brain connections and brain cells. This is possible because physical activity can play a significant role in boosting the secretion of endorphins, seronin, and other important body secretions that play a significant role in the human body (Fairman, Rowe, Hassmiller & Shalala 2011). Therefore, Mary should not hesitate to spare her time to regularly engage in activities like walking, running or any other physical activity that might be comfortable for her.
Eat a balanced Diet: The other important strategy that Mary should use to help in the management of her depressive condition is the adoption of a healthy eating style. It is recommended that a mentally-ill patient should make a proper choice of diet because it plays a significant role in boosting a healthy living. A balanced diet can help in providing the body with the required energy, protection from diseases, and boost the mood. Therefore, to help in managing her condition, Mary should be ready to change her eating habits and start using a balanced diet (Bogner, Joo, Hwang, Morales, Bruce, Reynolds & Gallo 2016). This can help her to address minimize the mood swings and be in a position of leading a healthy life. So, to achieve this goal, Mary should be encouraged not to skip any meal and frequently use food products such as energy-boosting snacks.
Have Adequate Sleep: Since sleep deprivation is a major cause of mental illness, it is recommended for a mentally-ill patient to have enough sleep. Sleeping difficulties are not good for a mentally-ill patient because it complicates the situation. This is why Mary’s condition has been worsening because, instead of sleeping, she spends her time worrying and thinking about the stressful experiences she has been undergoing. However, to regain her health, she should change her lifestyle and sleep well (Brunero & Stein-Parbury 2007). This will help her to manage her depressive condition since enough sleep will be instrumental in eliminating depression-related challenges such as moodiness, fatigue, sadness, and irritability (Worlein 2014).
Medical Intervention: Apart from lifestyle change, Mary should be encouraged to seek for social support from her family members as well as healthcare providers. From her family, Mary can be given company, and other social support that can help her to overcome the problem of isolation that might worsen her situation. On the other hand, working hand in hand with her GP and other healthcare providers can enable her to get the required therapy and medications that she really requires (Barlow 2012). Once this is properly done, Mary can be in a better position to manage her condition and be in the right path of recovering from her troubling mental condition.
Mental illness is a very serious condition that brings a lot of challenges to people in the society. Apart from causing mental distress to the patients, mental illness can result into physical chronic diseases like heart failure and fatigue. Therefore it should be properly managed by adopting appropriate managerial strategies. This is the situation in which Mary that has been credited as a successful mother and career woman is currently going through. Her condition demonstrates that there is a thin line between mental illness and physical health. However, to improve her conditions, Mary should get the necessary help from her GP and family members and be ready to adopt a healthy lifestyle such as adequate sleep, physical fitness, and the use of a balanced diet.
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