Early detection of mental disorders provide best results: experts

CHENNAI, OCT. 11. While the stigma attached to mental illness should be broken through increased awareness and education, the focus should be on early detection of disorders to achieve best results in treatment, said psychiatrists at a public interaction on mental illness yesterday.Early diagnosis was crucial as intervention could go a long way in arresting deterioration. Family and friends were the pivotal points around which the detection and treatment revolve, they emphasised.

The panellists included Sheshadri Hariharan, V. Muthukrishnan, S. Viswanathan, Bharathi Visveswaran and S. Mohan Raj, all consultant psychiatrists at Apollo Hospitals.

The doctors said depression, a common form of mental illness usually preceded by stress, would be the world's second largest disability factor by 2010. The requirement, therefore, was dissemination of adequate knowledge on mental illness and an attitudinal change in society.

Broadly categorising depression into three — reactive, biological and organic — the panellists said the common symptoms were sleep disturbance, loss of appetite, disinterest, negative view of self, feeling of worthlessness, decline in sexual urge, guilt, and fall in performance levels. In children, irritability could be an indicator.

They also explained about schizophrenia, dementia, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder and Alzheimer's disease.

Actions that interfered with work, relationships, mood and social behaviour of a person could be termed abnormal and early indicators of mental illness. Friends, neighbours and immediate family could check for early symptoms and seek medical aid.

Treating the mentally ill with medicines, they said, was only one aspect of management of the disease; it involved rehabilitation, occupational therapy and several other interventions.

The portrayal of the mentally ill in mass media had an impact on the people seeking treatment and the doctors urged a self-critical evaluation of the materials brought out by the media.

Radha Rajagopal, Director, Medical Education, Apollo Hospitals, said the community could help each other by forming self-help groups to help the patients come out of the dips.

A self-help group for patients with schizophrenia met at the Apollo Hospital at 3 p.m. on the last Sunday of every month.

Human chain

Students formed a human chain to mark the World Mental Health Day on the Marina yesterday. Placards with messages against the discrimination of mentally ill people went up as the students spread out in single file.

The event was organised by the department of social work, Mar Gregorios College.

Participating in the event, psychiatrist R.K. Rudhran said: "A healthy mind is one that is able to successfully manage emotions, as well as cope with external demands."

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