Mental illnesses tend to, generally speaking, be harder to diagnose and cure compared to many physical illnesses. This is because, unlike their physical counterparts, mental illnesses, and their origins, are harder to pinpoint. Now, you might be wondering why this is the case. Well, we can see it to be the case when we look at the inability for doctors to prove what is ‘wrong’ with patients presenting with mental health problems. Unlike physical health concerns, where the diagnosis is easy to conclude via a simple blood test or a scan, mental health concerns are not quite so straight forward to diagnose, this being due to the complexities involved in the field of mental health.
Because of how complex a field mental health is, prior to a formal diagnosis being made, health care professionals must carefully consider all the contributing factors that could’ve potentially led to the presence of their patient’s mental illness. Furthermore, professionals must also consider all the available treatment options, to ensure that their patient is given the best possible chance of making a full recovery.
Unfortunately, though, even when (or rather, if) a diagnosis is made, an individual with a mental illness will face an ongoing battle as they seek to remain in ‘remission.’ Using the example of cancer, an illness that is very much physical, the illness can, often, be cured with intensive treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Whilst there is still a chance that the cancer will return in the future, such an occurrence poses little risk due to the tried and tested treatment options on offer being highly effective. In contrast, mental illnesses such as depression are, to many people, seen as ‘incurable.’ They can, of course, be managed with medication and therapy, thus allowing sufferers to go on to live fulfilled lives, however the illness cannot be ‘removed’ from the body completely in the same way that cancer often can be, not least because it’s incredibly difficult to identify just one area that needs addressing. This ultimately means that, in some respects, mental illness will always be there, lying ‘dormant’, just waiting to be triggered.
In today’s society, the risk of the above occurring (i.e., the risk of an individual’s mental health being triggered) is very high, this being due to the day-to-day complexities of modern-day life. Even things as simple as the weather, or the news, can easily trigger mental ill health. Again, this provides us with stark reasoning as to why mental illnesses are so hard to cure compared to physical illnesses. We can take anti-depressants and engage in all the therapy the world has to offer, but the fact is that there will always be challenges thrown our way that can set us back and cause our mental health to worsen. The same, however, cannot be said of most physical illnesses, whereby they remain largely unaffected by external ‘goings on.’ A day full of ‘heavy’ news, for example, could not cause someone’s cancer to return, but it could, very easily, cause someone’s depression to return..
It is for the reasons discussed in this blog post why it is so important that mental health is treated in a way that is proactive as opposed to reactive. This means that, instead of waiting for our mental state to suffer before we seek help and support, we seek help and support before it gets to a ‘critical’ stage. Why? Because, engaging in preventative measures will increase the chances of sufferers remaining in long-term recovery, thus preventing them from ‘falling at the first hurdle’, this being personally beneficial to themselves and to their own recovery journey. It will also help other people, too, by giving them hope that recovery is possible, that living another way of life is possible, and that being free from the constraints of their mind is possible. Knowing these things- just knowing that there is more to life than that which they are currently experiencing, and knowing that, just like recovery from physical illness is so very possible, so too is recovery from mental illness- should encourage people who have previously felt apprehensive about seeking help, to, in the words of Nike, ‘just do it.’ And, most importantly, it should, ultimately, save lives.