Mental health disorders are complex and can take many forms. The broad definition incorporates many forms, including depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders and schizophrenia, etc.
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The feeling of fear and anxiety are crucial feelings that all humans experience. They are both released by the body in response to danger or possible injury. However, fear and anxiety are often confused and it is important to note that fear occurs in response to danger that is observable while anxiety is associated with objectless, unfocused and disoriented worries. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. Anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental health disorders and has affected 4.26% of the UAE population in 2017. Prolonged feelings of anxiety can disrupt the quality of a person’s life as it influences concentration, productivity, eating habits and sleep. Anxiety presents both emotional and physical symptoms that can fortunately be managed both psychologically and medically.
Anxiety is not characterized by a triggering stimulus. However, factors such as childhood experiences, previous trauma, stress and genetic vulnerability influence neuropsychological or neurobiological complications.
Depression is a major public health concern and produces a decline in health that is equivalent to other chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes. It includes feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness as well as weight changes and sleep disturbances that directly affect a person’s enjoyment of life. Depression affects approximately 2.88% of the UAE population per year. Anti-depressive medication has no doubt revolutionised our understanding of the disease and has helped millions of people globally. Psychological treatments have also been proven to manage depression as well as other self-management strategies.
Although depression can be triggered by external life-changing events that result in uncomfortable emotional symptoms, depression could also emerge due genetic factors and imbalances of serotonin levels in the brain.
Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders in children and adolescents. It is characterised as the inability to present appropriate levels of attentiveness as well as having high levels of impulsivity and hyperactivity. It usually presents in children before the age of 12 and affects impulsivity and frustrations, which therefore negatively impact their social interactions. It affects approximately 12.5% of children in the UAE. It is also the most heritable psychiatric disorder, having a heritability rate of 76%. Pharmacological treatments as well as psychosocial and behavioural treatments are available to patients with ADHD.
ADHD occurs as a results from a small frontal lobe, the part of the brain that is responsible for attention, decision making and emotional regulation. Symptoms of ADHD can further worsen in response to triggers such as stress, poor sleep and nutritional intake.
Eating disorders are characterised as behaviour aiming to control weight mostly due to body image disturbances which leads to a severe decline in physical health and psychological wellbeing. There are 3 main types of eating disorders firstly including Anorexia Nervosa which is weight loss in response to excessive dieting and exercise. Secondly, Restrictive Food Intake Disorder which is avoiding certain foods due to their texture and odour. Finally, Bulimia Nervosa which is described as extreme overeating to a point where a patient feels loss of control about eating. Eating disorders seem to develop during childhood and are more prominent in women, affecting 0.25% of the population in the UAE. They can lead to physical and mental complications that are addressed both medically and psychologically.
There are no particular know triggers for eating disorders. However, they are associated with psychological and medical issues such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and substance abuse.
Substance abuse disorders
Substance abuse disorder is described as taking psychoactive compounds in amounts or by methods that impose harmful effects to a person. Substances of abuse can be legal such as tobacco and alcohol or illegal such as cocaine and heroin. Prescribed and non-prescribed drugs can also misused in toxic dosages, all of which physically and socially disrupt and individual’s life and in many cases, leads to overdose and death. Substance abuse affects 0.76% of the population in the UAE and is a major public health concern as it not only imposes a risk on the lives of those who misuse, but also others around them.
Stress is a well-established risk factor for substance misuse as it increases vulnerability to addiction. Moreover, drug addiction can emerge with experimental use to recreational drugs in social events. This usually develops to more frequent occurrence. Furthermore, with exposure to prescribed medication such as opioids, the painkiller relief may become addictive.
The feeling of anger is natural and necessary for human survival during threats. However, anger can sometimes become a concern when an individual has difficulty controlling it often leaving a person feeling regretful. Uncontrollable anger can have harmful effects on physical and emotional health. It can also impose negative effects on relationships and professional life. It moreover may lead to violence, depression and suicidal thoughts. It is therefore important to identify healthy feelings of anger from anger issues in order to know when to seek help.
Stress, financial and family issues can often cause anger issues. Furthermore, it can also emerge from other problems such as alcoholism and depression.