‘Mad people’, right? Have you ever thought about what makes them ‘mad’?
religious Nigerians would like to think there’s something spiritual behind most ‘mad’ people, if not all of them. This notion is very wrong, so we’re going to correct that misconception.
A psychiatric hospital specialises in the treatment of mental disorders. [A modern psychiatric hospital focuses on the treatment of patients with the use of psychiatric drugs and psychotherapy, unlike older lunatic asylums which focused on containment and restraint of patients]. A mental disorder can also be referred to as a mental illness, psychological disorder or psychiatric disorder. A mental disorder is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, emotion, and behaviour, which may also affect their ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis. Some would like to think it’s a sickness of the mind, which isn’t psychical but in reality something has gone wrong psychically in the brain that manifests as a mental disorder.
There are over 450 different conditions that are recognised as mental disorders ranging from depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, to eating disorders and addiction. Check WebMD or Mayo Clinic for more detailed information on specific mental disorders if you’re interested. There are various factors that contribute to mental disorders, including genetics, environment and lifestyle. A very stressful job or traumatic life events for example could make someone more susceptible to developing a mental health condition.
Now that we’ve clarified what a psychiatric hospital is for, who really ends up in a one in Nigeria?
Contrary to popular beliefs, a large percentage of patients admitted in the psychiatric hospital are people who abuse drugs. Both male and female in-patient population consists mostly of young adults who started abusing drugs as a result of peer influence in secondary schools and higher institutions. Their substance abuse had led to changes in their behaviour, emotion, and thinking, and also affected their relationships, career and general health.
The desire to alter their state of consciousness led these patients into using psychoactive drugs such as stimulants to help them stay awake and be alert longer, sedatives to relax and calm their nerves, or hallucinogens to enable them experience new forms of consciousness. Common drugs of abuse include alcohol, nicotine (tobacco), cannabis (indian hemp, marijuana), amphetamines (speed, ecstasy), heroin, cocaine (crack), sleeping pills, cough medicine (codeine, SK), ketamine, LSD and many more.
All these drugs interfere with the chemical communication in the brain and in many cases, they hijack the natural brain systems involved in pleasure and reward, which are important in eating, drinking, sex, learning and memory. The recreational use of drugs sometimes leads to dependence or addiction.
Substance abuse is a problem in Nigeria which is unfortunately on the increase. Drug abuse patients are constantly being admitted in psychiatric hospitals, and part of the problem is that these patients were not well informed of the drugs they abuse before they got into it. People will still make poor decisions even when they’re well informed, but when did a little knowledge hurt anyone? Subsequent posts will focus on the common drugs of abuse in more detail, it’s all part of the neuro-awareness! In the mean time, If you’d like more information, you might be interested in:
- Wikipedia,. “Psychiatric Hospital”. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.
- Disorder,. “NAMI: National Alliance On Mental Illness | Mental Health Conditions”. Nami.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.
- Mayoclinic.org,. “Mental Illness – Mayo Clinic”. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.
- WebMD,. “Types Of Mental Illness”. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.