Disclaimer: Everything mentioned in the post and the series are based on personal experience and knowledge gained from freely available articles.
Happy Mental Health Awareness Month! In the first part of the month-long series, we talk about what various mental health issues like depression, anxiety, panic attacks etc are, what the common symptoms are and how one can cure these problems.
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. 
First and foremost, depression is not the same as being sad over an external situation. While grief does cause immense sadness, one does not lose their self-esteem or ability to go on with real life. In depression, sadness is eternal and small things do not bring in happiness. Depression interferes with your normal life and does not see a way to get out of the pit of sadness. A noteworthy point from the definition above is that depression is truly treatable and if treated earlier can be nipped in the bud before it turns serious.
Symptoms of Depression
- Continuous weeping with immediate cause
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and guilt
- Unable to sleep in the night
- Finding it impossible to wake up in the morning
- Loss or change in appetite
- Unexplained body aches
- Thoughts about self-harm or ending life and finding life meaningless
- Continuous negative thoughts than positive ones
Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life. People often experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as a test, examination, recital, or interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to sleep or otherwise function. Generally speaking, anxiety occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation. 
Anxiety is usually triggered by an external situation. When such a situation presents itself, the subject has an overwhelming, uncontrollable, and unwarranted fear of the situation. Again, anxiety is also curable and can be easily controlled.
Symptoms of anxiety
- Sudden fatigue
- Unable to concentrate on a task you were previously working on
- Sudden mood shift from joy to fear and unhappiness
- Worrying thoughts about other aspects of life
- Unable to shake off the feeling even after the situation has passed
A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear. Your heart pounds and you can’t breathe. You may even feel like you’re dying or going crazy. Left untreated, panic attacks can lead to panic disorder and other problems. They may even cause you to withdraw from normal activities. But panic attacks can be cured and the sooner you seek help, the better. With treatment, you can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of panic and regain control of your life. 
Everybody experiences fear and heart palpitations when faced with a possible threat. Panic attacks mimic such a situation with no visible or possible threat to the subject. It can happen while the person is normally going through his day even with zero external agents. Panic attacks in your normal life can be self-handled. But, if there are other underlying conditions, mitigating them will help reduce the frequency and duration of the attack.
Symptoms of panic attacks
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling weak or dizzy
- Body trembling or shivering
- Tingling or scratching sensation in palms
- Difficulty in breathing
- Panic and fear of everything
These mental health issues mentioned here are very common and can happen to anybody because of the stressful lives we lead these days. But, one thing they all have in common is that when under correct supervision, they are easily treatable.
There are multiple ways to self-handle these situations and we will talk about them in the upcoming posts. But these are what you need to do if you feel you have the aforementioned symptoms since more than two weeks.
- Understand and accept that you may have depression/ anxiety.
- Find a loved one (Mom, sibling, best friend or partner) and tell them about the way you feel
- Take a doctor’s appointment and go with your loved one
Please understand that there is no alternative to professional medical help and it has to be taken if the situation persists and there is no shame in going to a doctor.
 Panic Attacks