Types and causes of mental health illness Essay

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Mental health is often described in a negative way; there are many reasons as to why mental health may occur and how it affects the person. Aspects of mental health are in relation to self acceptance-this is an extremely important feature, when a person has low self esteem, depression and anxiety, mental illness can arise. A positive self esteem will boost confidence and prevent this from happening. Independence also encourages a positive self esteem. Often people with mental illness will have a inaccurate perception of reality-information will be highly exaggerated and emotion will rise due to the inaccuracy, this will encourage dramatic behaviour (can be seen as irrational) to the topic.

This also occurs in situations they come across; mental illness will encourage irrational and ineffective treatment of the situation. The person will suffer from distress and agitation in everyday life. The person may act in ways that are seen as unacceptable, irrational and unpredictable. They will see situations in a different light to others; everything will be over-dramatised, which can conclude in a negative or positive way depending on the mood of the person at the time.

Alzheimer’s is an aging mental illness. It is often described as dementia and will affect the person’s memory, their reality of life and their personality/behaviour. It is where brain tissue wastes away- parts of the brain will no longer work and some of the important chemicals within the brain are not present. This will lead to physical, mental and emotional disfunctioning. The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s will be scans on the brain, to identify absent tissue. People who surround the subject will often find things they say or do funny.

It is generally accepted in society as an ageing disease, and is quite well known about and common. However when a younger person develops Alzheimer’s it can be seen as ‘weird’, it is less accepted at a younger age. There are several films related to Alzheimer’s disease which explore strengths and weaknesses, the positives and negatives and the physical, emotional, social and intellectual stress related to it i.e. ‘Iris’. They show the emotional trauma that the friends and family of the person will encounter.

There is no exact cause of Alzheimer’s, it is often genetic or come about from a physical problem i.e. brain trauma, born disease. It is not known to be a societal disease, although there has been research into the effect of aluminium on the brain, and how it can cause/effect Alzheimer’s. Again with socio environmental issues, these cannot cause the illness but can dramatically encourage it. For example, Alzheimer patients will often become angry and upset that people stamp them with this disease, if the person living with or taking care of them become aggressive or angry back at them, this may worsen the symptoms.

Although it is often a genetic disease this does not mean the person will have a mental illness chromosome, like downs syndrome people have a downs syndrome chromosome, but it means that the person will be prone to and have a pre-disposition to the illness. It is likely that a number of factors will affect the reason someone suffers from Alzheimer’s. These could include; age, genetic pre-disposition and environmental factors. All these factors however will closely link together, if 3 of the factors that suggest a link towards alzheimers are present but all fairly mild the liklihood that a person will develop alzheimers is higher than that of someone who only has one factor that affects the possibility.

For example if a lady has an extreme pre-disposition to the illness i.e. every elderly person in her family has suffered from the disease but there are no other factors that suggest a link, her liklihood of developing the disease is less of that who has been in close contact with aluminium, only her mother developed alzheimers and she has experienced living with an extremely violent man, the chances that she will develop the disease is greater than that of lady number 1. The reason for this is that there is no one underlying cause that ‘creates’ the disease.

There are just factors that suggest links. The more factors the person has the higher the liklihood of developing dementia. Dementia affects one in 14 people over the age of 65 and one in six over the age of 80. Research has also shown that people who smoke, have high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels have an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

People with Alzheimer’s will initially loose parts of their memory; however this is fairly common in old age and so may begin as a ‘normal’ occurrence. The disease will then progress to further loss of memory and people will often become confused, they will frequently forget the names of people, places, appointments and recent events. They may also experience extreme mood swings, feelings of anger and upset will become obvious due to their increasing memory loss.

They will become withdrawn and self conscious, which will affect their ability to communicate with others. Unfortunately this will affect every day life dramatically; normal activities such as supermarket shopping may become very stressful. They may forget what they needed to buy and where to find it. They may not remember how to wash their own clothes, so will do things out of the ordinary like put their clothes in the bath, thinking that that is the way to do it.

From their perspective there will be nothing wrong with this method, however the people living around them may become very concerned and angry with their behavior. It can be extremely worrying for people living with the person. The people around the Alzheimer’s sufferer may feel embarrassed about taking them out but worried about letting them go out on their own. It can often become a catch 22 situation. When talking to an Alzheimer’s patient they will quite often feel very confident about what they are saying, but it will come out completely abstract to the normal ear.

For example, a lady I knew was in her late 70’s and she developed a very severe form of Alzheimer’s, I knew she had a daughter, who was then early 40’s, however when we spoke about her daughter she thought she was 18 months old now. Alzheimer’s people can often remember very long term; their short term memory can be so faded that they can repeat themselves five times in one sentence. Their short term memory is literally a sieve.

Due to parts of the brain wasting away other important functions that we take for granted in every day life, such as communicating, learning, thinking may all become very difficult for the sufferer. Also due to the tissue degeneration of the brain, important symptoms of alzheimers pateints can include:

* Finding difficulty planning and completing everyday tasks such as shopping. They may loose track when cooking and preparing a meal, making a teleophone call or even going to the toliet.

* Their langauage may alter dramatically, mainly due to their memory loss, their speech may become that of a 5 year olds (in severe cases). They wil often forget simple everyday words like tooth brush and so may ask the question “wheres the thing that goes in my mouth”.

* They may become lost in their own environment. They may become lost on their ‘normal’ walk to town.

* Another common syptom is poor judgement, often misjudgement of ‘normal’ day to day judgements. For example you need to judge how far away you need to drive past a car not to hit it, you need to judge what clothes to put on for a warm or a cold day and we need to judge at what time it will get dark (due to the season) as to when we need to be home by. All these simple judgements may become a lot harder for an alzheimer sufferer.

* Most alzheimers behavour is thought of as a bit strange but this problem that a lot of dementia sufferers encounter is that of misplacing items, but not just forgetting where you last out your keys or your purse, but actually putting certain items in places where they think is correct but to the ‘normal’ eye is very strange. For example they may put the iron in the freezer or their wrist watch in the sugar bowl.

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