Bhave Institute of Mental Health

Bhave Institute of Mental Health

Busting mental illness myths

Of all the illnesses, mental illnesses are probably the ones most poorly understand. There is still a heavy load of stigma attached to these illnesses and this in turn hampers the health seeking behaviour of most patients and their families. Media, especially movies, frequently depict a caricature like image of patients suffering from mental illness, often portraying them as someone to ridicule at or someone to be scared of. Also, treatments like electroconvulsive therapy or shock treatment are shown as barbaric procedures where patients suffer a great deal.

This article aims at busting some myths about the symptoms of mental illness, its treatment and other aspects.

MYTH: Mental illness is a sign of weakness. People can ‘snap’ out of it if they try.

FACT: Just like people can develop illnesses like diabetes or cancer, so can they develop mental illnesses. Biological factors like genetics, heredity, physical illnesses or deficiencies can lead to psychiatric illness. It can also occur due to trauma or abuse.

Being weak or lazy has nothing to do with these problems and patients need to get help to get better. Just like we don’t ask an asthma patient to ‘breathe harder’ during an asthma attack, we can’t ask a depression patient to ‘think happy thoughts’.


MYTH: Once a person develops a mental health problem, they will never recover.

FACT: Mental health problems do get better and many people do recover completely. Having such an illness doesn’t mean that once a person develops it, he/she will be ill always. Several patients go on to lead fulfilling lives, get married, hold on to jobs and enjoy life. Recovery depends on many factors like timely help seeking, regular treatment and lifestyle modifications.

MYTH: Once psychiatric medications are started, they can never be stopped. All psychiatric medications tend to be addictive.

FACT: Psychiatric medications, like most others, have a course. Albeit the course is longer than that for some medications, they can be discontinued as per guidelines. The shorter the duration of illness, shorter will be the course of medication. This emphasises need for early help seeking. Only in some patients who have very long-standing illness running into several years, patients might have to be given medication lifelong.

MYTH: Talking about suicide with a patient can plant the idea in their head.

FACT: Contrary to this belief, talking about suicidal thoughts helps people open up and vent to other if they are getting such thought but are too embarrassed to admit it. This can help in seeking crucial help needed in such cases.

MYTH: People with mental illness are violent.

FACT: A tiny percentage of all people with mental illness resort to violence. Even then, it is mostly with family members and they rarely a threat to people in the community. On the contrary, patients are more likely to be victims of violence.

MYTH: Psychiatric medications cannot be eaten along with other medication.

FACT: Most psychiatric medication can be taken along with routine medicines (unless contraindicated by your doctor).

Book An Appintment