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Mental illness gets more common

11 May Times of India

Although less than 6% adults suffer from severe mental illness every year, according to a study of 2005, almost 25% of all adults will have a diagnosable mental problem during their lifetime, said psychiatrist of Moti Lal Nehru Medical College Dr Anurag Varma.

"People often don't realise how unwell they are. It is hard to tell if we are mentally as healthy as we were a generation ago. We are better off now at detecting mental illness with the technique of genetics and brain imaging for diagnosis and if we detect it timely, we can, intervene to reduce the intensity and/or frequency of symptoms," he said. Hyperactivity, depression, or substance abuse are more likely to be recognised and diagnosed now than before and increased awareness and can check mental illness better, said the expert.

"We are actually getting "mentally sicker". More of us are mentally ill than in previous generations, and our mental illness is manifesting at earlier points in our lives. One study supporting this explanation took the scores on a measure of anxiety of children with psychological problems in 1957 and compared them with the scores of today's average child. Today's children-not specifically those identified as having psychological problems, as were the 1957 children-are more anxious than those in previous generations", said Dr Varma.

An additional study supports the explanation that more people are diagnosed with mental illness because more of us have it. Collectively, this line of research indicates that more is going on than simply better detection of mental illness.Some of the behaviours, thoughts, and feelings that were within the then-normal range of human experience or attributed to supernatural powers are now deemed to be in the pathological part of the continuum. This explanation implies that we, as a culture, are more willing now to admit mental illness in ourselves and in others.Increased work expectations are another factor. The pace and demands of jobs has increased. Many companies maintain as few workers as possible to get the work done, and if an employee can't reliably perform up to the (more intense) pace, he or she risks getting fired on top of other problems, Dr Varma added.

 

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