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8 mental health myths to get out of your head
8 mental health myths to get out of your head

Some diseases are still not accepted to be discussed: they are frightening. And mental disorders are record holders in this regard. It's time to change your attitude towards them.

8 mental health myths to get out of your head
8 mental health myths to get out of your head

Mental illnesses are one of the leading causes of disability. 4,044,210 - this is the absolute number of patients with mental disorders in Russia, as of 2015. And these are just the official figures.

The WHO expects that in just three years, depression will become the second most common disease.

But we still have little idea of how you can get sick, and the word "psycho" is abusive. Mental illnesses and disorders are surrounded by myths. Partly because psychiatry lags behind other branches of medicine: we are just getting to the question of how the human brain works. Partly because of a difficult past and the phrase "punitive psychiatry."

So it's time to dispel some of the misconceptions about mental illness and disorder.

Myth 1. Strong people do not suffer from mental disorders

Fact:psychiatric diagnoses are not made for weakness of character. Mental health can be compromised by malfunctioning in the body and by traumatic experiences.

"A normal person does not need psychotherapists." "Pull yourself together." "Look at the situation from the other side." "Do you really have a problem?" What a person with symptoms of mental disorder does not have to hear! And this attitude adds shame and guilt for being weak to the underlying disease.


Alina Minakova psychiatrist at the Z. P. Solovyov Scientific and Practical Psychoneurological Center

Anyone can get into a stressful situation, earn depression, sleep disturbances, neuroses or other mental disorders. These conditions are difficult to tolerate without professional support.

Mental illnesses are illnesses like others. Someone has a predisposition to them simply because genes have been identified that way. And each of us has our own experience, our own problems and characteristics that lead to disorders.

Symptoms of mental illness are the body and mind's natural response to trauma. For example, a victim of domestic violence suffers from depression, PTSD, or anxiety. Some people experience schizophrenia for the first time after stress. It is impossible to cure all this only by will and positive thinking.

Weakness or strength has nothing to do with it. On the contrary, a person who has to deal with a mental disorder can be very strong.


Zoya Bogdanova psychotherapist, lecturer at Novosibirsk State University

If a person himself came to a psychiatrist, asked for help, this alone indicates his consciousness.

Myth 2. Only adults suffer from mental disorders

Fact: 1 in 5 children has had an episode of mental illness at least once (according to the US National Institute of Mental Health).

Yes, children also get sick, and not only with a runny nose. And they often do not receive the help they need because they are not being paid attention to. Children, just like adults, suffer from anxiety, depression and many other illnesses.

Myth 3. Psychotherapy is a waste of money

Fact: psychotherapy combined with medication is an effective way to treat mental disorders.

In our country, psychotherapy is known more from films in which patients lie in front of doctors and answer silly questions. We are more likely to speak out to a friend, a dog, or suffer alone.

But psychotherapy is not a caricature, but a working method of treatment. It helps to understand the disease, to learn to live with it. In addition, psychotherapists teach patients special techniques that allow them to cope with the manifestations of the disease, recognize the signs of exacerbations and prevent them.

Psychotherapy improves the quality of life, which means it is not an empty exercise.

There are several directions in psychotherapy that have been shown to be effective. And to become a psychotherapist, you need a higher medical education and experience in psychiatry.

Myth 4. Mental disorders are incurable

Fact:patients with mental disorders control the disease and recover at least partially.

For example, when a person goes to a doctor, the strength of his depression can be determined at 100%. After taking medications and regular psychotherapeutic consultations, this level drops to 60%. The patient gets better, he begins to comply with the regime and play sports, the level of depression reaches 40%.

If a person, after the improvements, does not give up monitoring his health, then he will be able to achieve a conditional 20% depression, in which one can live without suffering. Even if the disease has brought you to a dispensary, this does not mean that you are tied to a medical facility forever: with persistent remission, visits to doctors become less frequent.

A year later (after a regular visit to the dispensary), the patient is discontinued. After three years (after being removed from follow-up), it will be possible not to visit the dispensary. After five years, the patient's record is sent to the archive, and the diagnosis is considered withdrawn.

Zoya Bogdanova psychotherapist, lecturer at Novosibirsk State University

Can the disease get worse again? Without a doubt. But the patient will at least know what helps him and how to act for this.

Myth 5. People with mental illness cannot work

Fact:mental illness is different both in the strength of the effect on the patient, and in the mechanism of occurrence. Sometimes illness can ruin almost all areas of life, but not affect work.

Much depends on the diagnosis and the severity of the disease. A person who takes medications and controls the disease, professionally, can be in no way inferior to healthy colleagues. Therefore, one cannot equate all patients with incapacitated ones.

Indeed, there are certain types of work, for admission to which you need a psychiatrist's conclusion. These are work with toxic substances, at height, in law enforcement agencies, in the field of public transport. A complete list of contraindications is approved by the Government of the Russian Federation.


Dmitry Movchan psychiatrist, deputy chief physician of the Marshak Clinic

Some diseases and conditions will be a contraindication to work until the end of life, and some will be temporary with the right to re-examination.

Since the list of diseases that require observation by a psychiatrist is extensive, the restrictions apply only to people with severe, persistent, often exacerbated disorders, Dmitry Movchan notes. For example, schizophrenia, mental retardation, mood disorders, epilepsy, and so on. And anorexia, neuroses, anxiety-phobic disorders do not fall into this list of restrictions.

There are also a few more important aspects:

  1. Not all diseases and disorders lead to a ban on work. In fact, the psychiatrist must determine whether a person can work or not. And the diagnosis is not indicated in the certificate.
  2. Sometimes a ban is necessary. There is absolutely no need for a suicidal person to sit at the helm of an airplane or a regular bus.
  3. Not everyone can demand a certificate from the dispensary: only the court, the military registration and enlistment office, personnel departments and selection committees in the institutions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSB, the prosecutor's office or investigative bodies, if a criminal case has been initiated.
  4. After recovery or steady improvement, some of the prohibitions can be lifted.

Myth 6. There is no protection from mental illness

Fact: mental health is influenced not only by genetics, but also by the environment that can be influenced.

Some people have a hereditary predisposition to mental illness. And while genes can increase the risk of developing a disease, they do not always determine it.

Moreover, external factors influence the psyche. For example, alcohol or drugs, nicotine. And if all these factors acted on a pregnant woman, then the unborn child may not properly form the nervous tissue, and this will already lead to disorders. A separate story is stress and trauma.

So the minimum prevention of mental illness is possible: a healthy lifestyle and timely solution of psychological problems.

Myth 7. When contacting a psychiatrist, they will be registered, but I can’t do anything

Fact: such a term as "accounting" does not even exist, according to the law of the Russian Federation "On psychiatric care and guarantees of the rights of citizens in its provision."

By law, outpatient care (this is when a person is not admitted to the hospital) is of two types:

  1. Counseling supervision is when a person independently turns to a psychiatrist, undergoes treatment and is observed at his own request. It is no different from visiting any other doctor: therapist, urologist or ophthalmologist.
  2. Dispensary observation. Usually this type of observation is called accounting. The decision on such registration is made by a commission of doctors. Patients with severe chronic mental illnesses are under dispensary supervision. Then there really are bans on driving, carrying and using weapons, admission to activities with dangerous and harmful factors.

But if there is no serious illness, then the issue of admission to the listed activities is decided at the time of examination, that is, for this you need to undergo a psychiatric examination.

Contacting a psychiatrist earlier does not affect the issuance of a certificate with permission to engage in these types of activities. After all, certificates are issued not about whether a person was under the supervision of a psychiatrist, whether he sought medical help, but whether there are psychiatric contraindications to activity at the time of the examination.

Alina Minakova psychiatrist at the Z. P. Solovyov Scientific and Practical Psychoneurological Center

Hospitalization - treatment in a hospital - is only voluntary. If the patient is recognized as legally incompetent (by court decision), then with the consent of legal representatives. They can be forcibly hospitalized only if a person poses a danger to himself or others, or if he is completely helpless.

In any other case, a person can choose a private clinic. When contacting a commercial medical institution anonymously, the patient does not fall under dispensary supervision, since the clinic observes medical confidentiality and does not disclose information to third parties.

Dmitry Movchan psychiatrist, deputy chief physician of the Marshak Clinic

Myth 8. Treatment will turn a person into a vegetable

Fact: the idea of an evil psychiatrist who dreams of subduing a patient comes from films and folklore.

Once upon a time, at the beginning of the 20th century, lobotomy was a progressive method of treatment, for which the Nobel Prize was awarded. But now psychiatrists and psychotherapists have more safe remedies in their arsenal.

I recommend that if you are concerned about mental health, you first contact a psychologist or psychotherapist. If he diagnoses you with a serious psychological disorder or disorder, he will refer you to a psychiatrist and give reasons for his decision.

Zoya Bogdanova psychotherapist, lecturer at Novosibirsk State University

Medications cause side effects, and some medications have to be used all the time. But these are not prerequisites for treatment. It all depends on the diagnosis and how quickly the recovery is going. In any case, the treatment is less harmful than the disease.