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Ayomide Adebayo: 7 Conditions You Didn’t Know Were Mental Health Disorders

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unnamedMy name is Ayomide Adebayo, and I’m a psychiatrist.

Okay, quick one: when you read that, what was the first thing that came to your mind? Be honest, now. Did you think, “mad people,” half-clothed, muttering to themselves, or jerking around in uncontrollable rage?

I did that because I’ve found that when I tell people I’m a psychiatrist, one of the first thoughts in most people’s minds is something along the lines of “mad people,” or “madness” – which is unfortunate, because psychiatry is so much more than that. In fact, psychiatry is not about “madness” at all. Interestingly, people often interpret that as an attempt at being politically correct, but it’s not at all. It’s just fact.

What psychiatry really is about is… Mental and behavioural disorders
That’s the proper name, actually, but it’s a mouthful. Imagine having to say that every single time. In fact, don’t imagine; just try it yourself. Try reading up to here again, but reading, “mental and behavioural disorders,” every time I wrote “psychiatry.” It’s no fun, trust me. (Mostly we in the field just say “mental disorders,” or “mental illness.”)

“Mental and behavioural disorders” really gets it, though. And that’s a major reason why thinking of psychiatry as the medical specialty that deals with “mad people” is a misconception. The kind of people we think of as “mad” constitute only a very tiny subset of the vast number of people who can be helped by psychiatry.

Which is another issue with misunderstanding the scope of psychiatry. It means lots of people who would be really helped by a psychiatrist don’t even realise it, and don’t have anyone around them who does. And even if there were, God help that person if should dare suggest psychiatric help!

It’s all just a mess.

But we can try to untangle it by looking at a few other things that come under the psychiatry’s wide scope.

Pregnancy- and menstruation-related disorders
Any woman (or her partner) knows that pregnancy and menstruation often come with emotional changes. But sometimes things go from just emotional to being serious enough to affect the woman’s ability to continue her normal life. Which is where a psychiatrist or other mental health professional might need to come in.

Sexual disorders
Yes, sexual disorders are a major reason to see a psychiatrist. And the reason is simple when you think about it: once you rule out sexual problems caused by physical conditions, all that’s left is problems of behaviour. Which other doctor can you think of who would handle that?

Bedwetting
Almost everyone knows someone who used to bedwet. (Or maybe even still does.) And although there are all kinds of ways people try to address bedwetting, most people I’ve met don’t seem to even consider psychiatric help as an option. But once you rule out physical causes, bedwetting (or enuresis, as we call it) is totally a behavioural problem.

Alcohol and drug use problems
Most people don’t really think of alcohol and drug use problems as psychiatric, except the person starts to behave unusually or something. Which is sad, because harmfully using drugs and alcohol is already a behavioural problem. Waiting until abnormal behaviour starts means many who are already living below their potential don’t get help.

Anxiety disorders
Did you ever see Iron Man 3? Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr) was having attacks of sudden anxiety where he would basically freak out and have flashbacks (from his near-death experience in Avengers — you saw that, at least?). You may not have known specifically, but those were panic attacks and his problem was something along the lines of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Which is totally a psychiatric problem — he definitely needed to see a psychiatrist or other mental health professional.

Learning disorders
I see kids all the time who struggle in school and everyone thinks they’re dumb. Which is sad, because some of them are trying very hard, but they’re struggling with learning difficulties like dyslexia (reading disorder) and dyscalculia (arithmetic disorder). Kids with problems like this don’t do well because skills they struggle with skills most other kids can luckily take for granted. And our whole system of education is based on the assumption they already have these skills. (Imagine what it’s like for those who don’t.)

Dementia
I’ve seen people with elderly relatives who have been forgetting stuff consistently for years, but they didn’t realise that was a problem. They assumed it was part of normal old age. (It’s not). By the time these people get to the hospital (usually because of unusual behaviour, which is the only mental health symptom most people know), it’s late. Maybe not too late, but later than would have been ideal.

These are just a few, obviously. I havent mentioned eating disorders, or child and adolescent behavioural disorders, or other disorders of old age and so on. I’ve said nothing about conversion disorders and somatisation disorders and other kinds of schizophrenia.

But I intend to. Because you can’t rise above it if you don’t know what “it” is.

What did you always think psychiatry was about? Which of the disorders in this article comes as the biggest surprise to you?

40 Comments

  1. lol!

    March 3, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Dyscalculia!

    • Anon

      March 3, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      There’s also dysgraphia! I call them the 3 dys trinity.

  2. tunde

    March 3, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    i guess thinking about loggin to bellanaija.. I’m bellanaija mental mental dis-order… mshewww abeg we live in a crazy world and we’re all suffering from one mental disorder

  3. Blessed

    March 3, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    How nice. just when i started having a better interest in psychiatry, this comes. well done Dr. we might be colleagues soon. 🙂 if my interest doesnt wane and i pick it as my specialty
    well done, please do keep this coming.

  4. mzhadey

    March 3, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Hello Doctor ayobami, three years ago i was involved in a road accident that left six people dead. I was in and out of coma for 24hours but i was treated and discharged from the hospital. I must say at this point that i have always suffered from migraine since i was a child but i realised it got worse and i mean acute worse after this accident to an extent where i started to forget every little thing and thus affected me academically. I did inform my parents but my father twisted it around and said it was an excuse i made up for failing. I moved to England two years ago and i have taking it upon myself to look for a cure because this migraine attacks leave me useless for weeks and even doctors here says there is no cure for migraine attacks and to be honest i am tired of taking drugs and am begining to sound like a broken record. As a result of me loosing every little information i do not read for exams until a week to my exams and i only cram and just go into the exam to pour it all out after which i cannot remember anything any more. Now my question is do you think i could be suffering from Dementia and do you think having this horrible migraine is normal? P.s i have done two eye scan and they said everything is okay but i feel like a walking time bomb waiting to explode. I am 24 years of age sir.

    • Blessed

      March 3, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      hello mzhadey, i am so sorry to hear about your health challenges. while we wait for Dr. Ayomide to answer your questions, let me help a little.

      1. from your complains, you dont fit the profile for dementia, thats my opinion, i can be wrong.
      2. Having migraines is not normal.
      you didnt state the kind of doctors you met but i suggest meeting a neurologist if you havent.

      i do hope you get the best results for your health challenge.
      while we wait for medical help, here is a website to visit, you might be interested.
      enterthehealingschool.org/home/itv/index.php?c=HSL
      God bless you.

    • D

      March 3, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      I get migraines likewise probably not as bad as Mzhadey and yes I have seen various Drs including neurologists. There is no cure for migraines because no one fully understands the science behind them. A neurologist may be able to help you manage it, but there is no cure for migraines like she has said. I also recently noticed my tendency to forget things but that just started not too long ago as I am one of those that hates writing things down and I was always the one to remember but of recent I have had to start setting notifications on my phone to help remember things. I even forget words right in the middle of making sentences. Not certain it is dementia though but I am not a Dr and I have really not complained of this recent development to any medical personnel quite yet.

    • mzhadey

      March 3, 2015 at 10:48 pm

      Hello blessed thank you so much for your response, i have met with opthamologist here at addenbrookes hospital in cambridge but they told me my eyes are good. They did however say they would refer me to a neurologist but its a queue that takes as long as six to eight weeks because its NHS. I cannot afford private hospitals as i am the one sponsoring myself aside from my school fees. So i am patiently waiting and on the other hand am saving from my income to pay for the treatment on my own if it gets really bad but i have to focus on my finals now “am a law student” so i have lots to do thus i just swallow the closest pain killer as soon as i feel any sort of head ache until am done with my exams and dissertation, after which i am going to focus on getting a cure. Thank you once again. God bless us all.

    • Ayomide Adebayo

      March 3, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      Hello, mzhadey, I’m sorry to hear about what you’ve been going through. Like Ayobami said, the symptoms you’re complaining of don’t look like dementia. You should definitely consider seeing a neurologist (which Ayobami also noted).

      You can reach me at [email protected] if you have further questions.

    • Ayomide Adebayo

      March 3, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      Sorry, I meant to say Blessed. (Your calling me Ayobami somehow got stuck in my head.) 🙂

    • mzhadey

      March 3, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      Okay sir. Would definitely email you if need be. Thank you for your reply. God bless you.

    • Gorgeous

      March 3, 2015 at 11:33 pm

      Get some vitamin D and see if there is a change. Black people lack vitamin D in cold places and a deficiency in that vitamin can make you feel like you are losing your mind. Especially when it is cold.

    • Mrs SW19

      March 4, 2015 at 1:29 am

      @Mzhadey, sorry about your ordeal. I was elated when you said you were in England. I battled migraines for years and it got worse after I had surgery for a different issue. My ear use to ring continuously as well. I prayed, my Family prayed and I decided to visit a TCM (TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE ) DOCTOR in London. I went to one at herbalworld (Wimbledon branch {Dr Luu}) who treated me with acupuncture 1-2 times a week. In less than two months the migraines were a thing of the past. this was about four years ago and I rarely get headaches now talkless of migraines! Seriously I get small headaches very few times a year and nothing major that requires even paracetamol sef.
      Try it out, I am optimistic it will make a difference.

    • mzhadey

      March 4, 2015 at 8:59 am

      Hello Mrs Sw19 thanks for the information. Would check it out. Thank you.

  5. Dr.N

    March 3, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Insightful! Good one

  6. hawttalkwithtosan.blogspot.ca

    March 3, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    I love the learning disorder bit. Many children have been badly labelled and tormented due to their learning abilities. Whoopi Goldberg was dyslexic and labelled a retard in school but thank God she had a supportive mother who told her to focus on her acting skills instead of academics which she was struggling at. Today she is one of the only ten people to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award; and is the first woman to be honored with the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. We need to nurture children and help them succeed with their God given skills.

    1
  7. Ella

    March 3, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Good write up. Thump up for d enlightment

  8. ehi

    March 3, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Nice one doc.

  9. Jojo

    March 3, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    I did not think ‘mad people etc’
    My only thought was interesting.

    Good thing about creating awareness.

  10. Imose

    March 3, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for this insightful information !! I also think our politicians (excluding those who are the exceptional few) need a reassessment ** just saying**

  11. Peju

    March 4, 2015 at 12:45 am

    Great up Ayomide.

  12. istidele

    March 4, 2015 at 4:50 am

    The perpetually expanding dsm criteria will ensure psychiatrist’s are always kept in business.

  13. Zahra

    March 4, 2015 at 5:49 am

    Hi mzhadey.. sorry to hear about your ordeal. I was also very ill two years ago buh I thank God for healing and God will see you thru. Matt 4.23. Am also a law student in my finals. Looking forward to seeing you at the bar. U can contact me on [email protected]

  14. teetee

    March 4, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Very informative article Ayo, Well done……………

  15. M.M

    March 4, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Hello Dr Ayobami,
    Thanks for this insightful piece.
    I have a friend who suffers from serious alcohol dependence (alcohol abuse).
    Please how can i get help for him?

  16. E

    March 4, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Hi Doc, I have a lot of issues that have had me thinking I need psychiatric evaluation ranging from rage that makes me picture myself torturing people, to talking to myself when I am alone, but there’s something I experience that gets me worried and I need your opinion on whether its a mental health related issue. Anytime I find myself having to explain issues especially at work and I am talked down I usually feel my chest literally “tighten” and it becomes difficult for me to breathe and I get very hot I have horrible headaches after as well. Sometimes I feel very lost on the scheme of things and its almost like there’s an empty space in my head, I become very “useless” and basically never get any work done for hours sometimes. I think I feel that way because most times it feels like I am working for nothing… Do you think it has to do with my mental well being? I will like to know what you think. Thanks.

  17. Ess

    March 4, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Hi @mzhadey, I am no doctor but I want u to try and drink at least 2ltrs of water a day. It might help reduce the frequency of the headaches. People under estimate the importance of fluid in the body. Pls read up on google and see how body fluid is related to headaches.

  18. Ayaayo

    March 4, 2015 at 11:43 am

    I did think “well clothed” mad people. Those were my first thought seeing this title. Lovely and very insightful write up. Please come back with other mental illnesses possibly about a pathological liar with superiority complex and how to help them get help or handle such individual. I have a colleague who displays these two characteristics, being around such a person affects the office atmosphere. I have personally labelled this colleague as a mentally deranged fellow

  19. slim

    March 4, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Dear Dr. Adebayo,

    How do you deal with someone who is constantly in fear? Has anxiety issues and in overly worried about anything.

  20. anonymous

    March 4, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    @mzhadey..now that i think about it a couple years ago..my gf died in my arms..i barely passed through my exams that year and have been quite forgetful too,now I’m much better and what i realise has happened is i had anxiety disorder for a long time..perpetual fear and anxiety over bad things happening again and it clouds the mind and doesn’t make you remember stuff,u loose concentration and always tired.so ma’am get closer to God,and free your mind and liberate yourself,do the things that make u happy,go join a dance class,gym or find love..Its tough,God help you @ E i feel that sometimes,i think some things or circumstances have happened to you that you think u don’t deserve,more of emotional ,(e.g divorce of parents,lost a sibling) just like losing my gf and you have a lot of pent up anger to the universe( y u?) You want freedom,peace, you want to be able to control the things that happen around you so that u can’t be hurt anymore that y your chest tightens when you are being told off because you want to slap your boss perhaps? but holding on to your senses is making you crazy and u also playing with HiGH BP.You can start by helping yourself dear by letting go and letting God and tell yourself they are people who have it worse than you out there..make out quite times for yourself,watch movies,take a trip..if you don’t take it easy on yourself u might have to book an appointment soon with the d Psychiatrist..Psychologist says so, lol God help you

    • adelegirl

      March 5, 2015 at 11:59 am

      How traumatic that must have been for you! So sorry you had to go through that. I am glad you have found peace and recovery.

  21. Doc Ayomide

    March 4, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Wow. Lots of questions here! I’m sorry I won’t be able to take personal questions here (reasons of medical ethics), but you can reach me on my email, [email protected]. And I will get back to you as soon as I can (which should be within 24 hours).

  22. Xxx

    March 4, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Pregnancy and menstruation-related disorders! Are you implying that every woman has a mental disorder?!

  23. Modupe

    March 4, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Oh! This is so so enlightening. I really hope we have more posts on mental health. I look forward to learning from them. Thanks doc.

  24. Janity

    March 5, 2015 at 12:06 am

    I liked this.

    Tweet @sane_jayne

  25. Jolly

    March 5, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Dr Ayomide, So what do we do incase of bedwetting. My sons, now 14 and 10 bedwets. My husband also told me he stopped bedwetting at age 18 and likewise his three brothers stopped in their teens. I also sent you a mail but I want others to learn that is why I am posting here. Thanks

    • Doc Ayomide

      March 5, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jolly. I’ve replied your email, and will definitely address bedwetting more generally soon!

  26. adelegirl

    March 5, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    BN, this is such a great feature. Looking forward to more of this. From the comments and even introspection and just observing my immediate surroundings, I know that people experience mental health disorders from time to time. It is very prevalent especially in a country as tough as Nigeria can be. Columns such as this on a forum like Bella Naija will hopefully help people open up about their mental health disorders and seek professional help.

  27. Dipo Oguntodu

    March 6, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Proud of you bro

  28. Louda

    March 9, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Hmm Dr. Ayo so I was suffering from mental disorder when I couldnt pass mathematics. My mom took me to all the maths lesson centres in town yet no way. I even got an F in my WAEC. I was told that I was going nowhere in life without mathematics. I told myself I wasnt going to write WAEC again because I cleared every other paper. Today I am happy working in an international organisation of my dreams as a consultant. But the thing is I want to get a masters degree in the US and the GRE exams is my problem. Please what is the psychiatric solution to my condition?

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