Health is defined as the state of physical, mental and social well being. But in reality, most of us believe that medical attention is required only in the case of a physical illness. Mental disorders are widely ignored and when one suffers mentally, he usually wouldn't visit a psychiatrist fearing that others might laugh at him and call him "mad".

Quite contrary to popular belief, suffering from a mental illness doesn't exactly make a person "mad". In fact, he can be as sane as you and I. Presently, 7% of the Indian population suffers from mental illnesses but over 90% of these remain untreated, thanks to our ignorance

Mental disorders are of various types from phobias to eating disorders to depressions etc. Some suffer from a disorder called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which makes them do things like washing their hands continuously, touching all things in a room before exiting it, ending a fleet of stairs with a particular foot etc. Development disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome occurs initially in the childhood and can continue into adulthood.

The causes of these disorders include genetics, injuries, drugs, the society and culture and also life experiences such as the death of a loved one.

What makes mental disorders more dangerous is that they can affect physical and social health as well. For example, a person suffering from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder, is extremely conscious about her weight and tends to have a low Body Mass Index(BMI) and various other health conditions such as lack of energy, slow thinking and poor memory, yellowish skin and brittle nails, dizziness and headaches. It can ultimately lead to death. A person suffering from autism tends to keep to himself most of the time and talks to inanimate objects and thus is made fun of by others.

Most mental disorders cannot be cured by just popping a pill. A psychiatrist is required to talk to the patient and help him out. The most important part of the cure is to make the patient accept that he suffers from a mental disorder and that the cure depends on his determination to get rid of it.

Did you know that there is less than one psychiatrist for every four lakh Indians? The reason behind this is our attitude towards them; most of us do not even consider them as doctors. It is important to clear the mist of ignorance covering our eyes. Never look down upon someone suffering from a mental disorder; it would only make it worse. Love and affection would surely add to their cure.

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