Adverse Conditions That Affect Our State Of Mental Health

Adverse Conditions That Affect Our State Of Mental Health

Anxiety, a feeling of inner tension, sleep disturbances, irritability, inadequate emotional reactions – today one can observe a significant prevalence of these disorders in the population, which may be associated with the tense rhythm of modern life, as well as a decrease in stress resistance under time pressure, and excess of information as a consequence of rapid technological progress. The frequency of these conditions is quite high and amounts, according to different authors, to 15-25%. The state of anxiety, during the progression of a particular condition, leads to significant disturbances in daily activity, professional activity, social contacts, etc… Therefore, adequate therapy of such cases is of great social importance.

Stress

Stress is the body’s normal defense response necessary for survival. Doctors call this condition ‘adaptation syndrome’. This is not a punishment for working 24/7 or multitasking. On the contrary, it is the body’s attempt to adapt to changing conditions.

Not many people know that the human body is capable of experiencing two types of stress. They are provoked by positive and negative factors. Stress that has a negative effect on the body, as well as the body’s response to it, is called distress, while the positive effects of stress are called eustress.

Early waking up, playing sports, quarterly reports at work, being stuck in traffic jams, etc. – these are all called “stress factors”. As we have said above even positive events can lead to stress: a wedding, a date, a promotion at work… In other words, any change in your daily routine is a possible pathway to a stress disorder. Any changes, be they negative or positive knock us out of our usual course and force us to adapt to new life circumstances to which we are not yet accustomed.

The human body has the ability to instantly respond to stressors with a readiness to “fight or run” (active reaction) or “freeze” (passive reaction). The activation of the body under stress is manifested by an increase in the work of the adrenal glands, thyroid and parathyroid glands, as well as the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and other parts of the brain. There is an increase in blood pressure, an increase in the frequency and strength of heart contractions, hydrochloric acid is secreted in the stomach, cholesterol and glucose levels rise in the blood, breathing quickens, and muscles tense.

Obviously, during acute stress, such changes help the body to “fight or flight”. However, with prolonged exposure to stress, they can lead to an overload and depletion of the body’s resources. That is why it is so important to be able to withstand stress, learn to control the reactions of your body, and deal with the negative consequences of stress in time.

Stress, according to the concept of Hans Selye a Hungarian physiologist (1974) [2], has three stages of development:

  1. Stage of anxiety: an unfavorable factor occurs – anxiety and fear arise and mental stress increases;
  2. Stage of resistance: the body begins to react to this adverse factor, it struggles with stress, adapts to it, or further immerses into the stress condition;
  3. Stage of exhaustion: if the impact of the adverse factor is too strong and no measures are taken to eliminate the source of stress, it becomes chronic. The body’s resources are depleted. Serious health problems can arise.

Even though challenges make us grow personally and professionally, stress is detrimental to our health. Under its influence, immunity decreases, the activity of the digestive system worsens, it can lead to cardiovascular diseases, headache, irritability, weight gain, decreased sex drive, depression, asthma, heartburn, insomnia, anxiety, agitation, or apathy. The list is endless. So if you observe stress in your life you might want to ask for professional medical advice on how to help your organism cope better or consider adequate supplemental treatment.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

If you are lacking motivation for a long period of time (over one month), it is most likely the “disease of the century” – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Generally, people aged 25-45 are most susceptible to it, since at this age they are most productive and strive for success and career growth coping with a lot of professional strain. In women, the vegetative-vascular and endocrine systems are the first to fail, in men – those are heart, liver, and sexual activity.

The syndrome of chronic fatigue has been studied by medical scientists worldwide and there are numerous methods to help oneself through this condition. Russian scientists suggest Selank, a drug capable of unloading the nervous system and restoring the work of neurons. It produces a mild yet noticeable effect with very few side effects. Those who are looking for a nootropic to help them cope better with exhaustion might be also interested in Nanotropil (previously known as Phenotropil). It was developed by the cosmic branch of the pharmaceutical industry in Russia in the 80th, and included in the cosmonaut’s kit. As one famous Russian astronaut Alexander Serebrov said, Entrop (Phenothropil) worked for him as a “normalizer”: it decreased impulsivity and irritability – conditions that will always happen during a long-term stay in space. You can also consider Pantogam (hopantenic acid) for use in healthy individuals to increase mental and physical capacity and to relieve chronic fatigue. It also may improve memory and attention.

Signs of chronic fatigue:

  • The most important symptom is when a person cannot feel normally rested, no matter how much they rest. And the reason for this poor condition cannot be explained;
  • There is also a decrease in immunity and performance, accompanied by nervous disorders;
  • Unreasonable headaches and pain in muscles and joints;
  • Insomnia or restless sleep, etc.

If you observe any of the mentioned above signs of chronic fatigue you might want to pay extra attention to your mental and physical health.

Depression

Millions of people around the world feel unhappy and need help. But what is depression and how to deal with it?

Depression is a mental disorder, an illness that can severely compromise health, cause disability, and, in the worst cases, lead to suicide. Depression is one of the most common mental disorders. According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people of all ages around the globe suffer from it, and most of them are women. And these are only the people with a confirmed diagnosis. To one degree or another, almost everyone experiences a depressive episode at least once in their life.

Signs of depression:

  • Low mood, lack of interest in what is happening around, apathy,
  • Self-doubt, weakness, helplessness, feeling empty, doomed, hopeless,
  • Decreased activity and productivity at work,
  • Thoughts of death, suicide (often obsessive),
  • Loss of appetite/overeating,
  • Anxiety, fear of the future,
  • Unjustified feeling of guilt,
  • Tearfulness, irritability,
  • Sleep, breathing, heart rhythm disturbances,
  • Constrictive headache, bursting feeling in the abdomen and chest.

It is like all the colors of life have disappeared and there is only one left – black, it is like joy and hope have left and only longing and grey uncertainty remained.

What can trigger depression?

  • Dissatisfaction with yourself, your life, and close people,
  • Unfulfilled ambition or unresolved problem,
  • Psychological trauma from childhood and hereditary predisposition,
  • Somatic and neurological diseases (Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s syndrome),
  • Alcohol and drug addiction,
  • Phobias, anorexia nervosa, and other mental disorders,
  • Changing seasons (seasonal depression or mood disorder),
  • Childbirth (postpartum depression is common in new mothers),

There are situations when a depressed state occurs against the background of the general well-being, which makes it even more difficult to diagnose.

Usually, a depressive episode lasts no longer than a month and ends safely. But if the feeling of unhappiness continues and intensifies, getting out of this kind of depression is impossible without professional help. Depression can and should be treated, otherwise, it will worsen or become chronic, aggravated by relapses. Many people try to get out of depression on their own, but only a doctor should diagnose and prescribe the correct therapy. Unfortunately, very often people with a depressive disorder are shy or afraid to seek help. They withdraw into themselves, lose touch with the world and the family.

Generally in modern practice, depression is treated quite successfully if you do not delay a visit to the doctor. For mild cases, psychosocial therapy is usually sufficient. However, moderate to severe depression does not go away without medication. To solve this problem, various antidepressants are prescribed along with psychotherapy, and tranquilizers and nootropics are used to help them. For each case, a comprehensive treatment is selected by a specialist individually.

Anxiety Disorder (AD)

Anxiety is common for any person in this or that situation: when a child gets sick, when we move to another city, when troubles at work pile up. This state passes in a week or two because circumstances change and ways of solving our problems are found. But for some people, anxiety plagues for months and years. This drains both mental and physical strength; problems with close people and health may occur.

AD is a stress-related disorder of the nervous system. It manifests itself in a tense and restless attitude, practically without reference to a specific situation.

Types of AD:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – persistent state of anxiety, unjustified fears, a constant worry for any reason, obsessive premonitions.
  • Anxiety-panic disorder – spontaneous panic attacks, fear of death, accident, insanity. Often (but not always) accompanies depression.
  • Anxiety-phobic disorder – an irrational fear of one or more phenomena, situations, events of the past or future. Fear attacks cause an obsessive and unreasonable sense of danger in a person, which increases anxiety. This also includes social phobia – fear of people, as well as everything that may be associated with them (criticism, condemnation, physical threat).
  • Anxiety-depressive (mixed) disorder – in this condition, there are signs of depression and anxiety in equal measure, making it difficult to diagnose and choose the right treatment.
  • Adaptive disorder – increased anxiety because of the difficulty in adjusting to a complicated situation.
  • Organic anxiety disorder – is a consequence of internal diseases of the body, since not only emotional, but also physical manifestations are observed – headaches, memory problems, heart failure, and so on.
  • Anxiety-hypochondriacal disorder – excessive worry about one’s own health and a tendency to scout out an illness, complain about regular pains without any deviations during the examination.

Reasons behind AD:

  • Chronic stress;
  • Personal characteristics (concentration on threatening moments only, presumed inability to control one’s own life);
  • Increased self-exactingness (possible inconsistency, incompetence, imperfection in any situation);
  • Psychological trauma, usually from childhood.

AD often goes side by side with other neurotic problems: panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder (repetitive obsessive thoughts or actions), social phobia.

Often patients turn to doctors with complaints about somatic manifestations, but diagnostics does not show real changes in the work of organs and systems of their body. If the patient is carefully surveyed the increased anxiety that relates to all spheres of life can be diagnosed. Sigmund Freud was the first to describe the so-called “anxiety neurosis”. This was more than a hundred years ago. He noted that somatic disorders often replace and mask the patient’s feeling of anxiety as such.

Treatment for generalized anxiety disorder in adults consists of two parts:

  1. Psychotherapy, which is intended to correct the patient’s behavior and teach them relaxation techniques;
  2. Pharmaceutical long-course treatment with anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects – from 3 to 12 months. Sometimes nootropics are added to enhance the effect of treatment.

The use of specific agents – Anxiolytics – is pathogenetically justified in the treatment of anxiety. The most widely used anxiolytics are benzodiazepines (diazepam, oxazepam, phenazepam, etc.).

At the same time, despite the popularity of benzodiazepine anxiolytics, they are characterized by some well-known adverse reactions, to one degree or another characteristic of almost all representatives of this class of drugs: psychomotor retardation, drowsiness, lethargy, dizziness, muscle relaxation, impairment of memory and thinking, development of addiction with prolonged use (over 1–2 months), increased frequency of side effects when combined with other neuro- and psychotropic drugs, etc., and the mentioned complications increase significantly with age [5].

Synthesis and introduction into practice of a new generation of anxiolytics of a non-benzodiazepine nature have become an alternative way to develop drugs to eliminate anxiety. They are said to possess the following clinical and pharmacological properties:

  1. Elimination of the entire complex of anxiety-neurotic manifestations – anxiety, tension, fear, psycho-vegetative disorders, sleep disorders;
  2. Ensuring the maintenance of the usual rhythm of life, social activity (work, study, etc.);
  3. Safety (minimal or no serious side effects);
  4. Compatibility with other somato- and psychotropic drugs;
  5. Convenience of use;
  6. Economic accessibility and the absence of severe restrictions on prescribing.

You can read more on Alternative to Benzodiazepines for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in our blog post.

Seeking medical help is necessary if anxiety and fears that have no meaningful basis torment a person for several weeks, or even months, leading to constant mood swings and sleep disturbances. Also, a visit to a neurologist or a psychiatrist would be recommended in case of frequent problems with the digestive, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems that do not respond to therapy. These “diseases” are not detected by analysis, ultrasound, and other examinations, but exist only in the patient’s subjective sensations. In these cases, adequate medical help would be necessary to prevent further deterioration of your state.

Neurasthenia

This is a disorder of the nervous system, which is caused by the depletion of the body’s strength. The main symptom of neurasthenia is increasingly rapid fatigue, both mental and physical, against a background of increased irritability. In addition, other symptoms are also inherent in this disease: increased tearfulness and anger, absent-mindedness, insomnia, morning fatigue, pain in the head (helmet syndrome) and in the body, etc.

According to the WHO, about 10% of the population of developed countries needs treatment for neurasthenia. Women suffer from this disease 2-3 times more often than men. The symptoms are also common among female patients who have reached the age of menopause.

How is neurasthenia treated? Advice like “calm down”, “pull yourself together” or “get up from the sofa and do something” are not helping. After all, it’s not about bad upbringing or lack of motivation, it is rather about a special state of the nervous system of the patient. Only a specialized treatment of neurasthenia, both medicational and psychotherapeutic, can help here.

  • First of all, it is necessary to establish a daily routine with a sufficient amount of night sleep and rest during the day, as well as adequate nutrition.
  • To reduce excitability and irritability, the patient is taught relaxation techniques, psychotherapeutic conversations are conducted.
  • To support the body, vitamin and mineral complexes are prescribed (in particular, B vitamins and magnesium).
  • To calm and improve sleep, the doctor may include sedatives and “mild” tranquilizers in the treatment plan for neurasthenia.
  • In case of serious problems with memorization and mental concentration, nootropic drugs are prescribed (they stimulate memory, attention, and thinking).
  • If the disease is severe and is combined with signs of depression and anxiety disorder, then antidepressants and “classic” tranquilizers are prescribed, and in some cases, antipsychotics.

Please note that only a doctor can assess the patient’s condition with neurasthenia and prescribe drugs. Uncontrolled medication intake can significantly worsen the situation – deepen exhaustion and disrupt the work of various body systems.

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