Neurological Disorders Explained: Dementia

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to one day wake up and forget the name of your cat? Memory loss or dementia with increasing age is a common condition; one that affects a good percentage of people.
But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Dementia includes a set of symptoms associated the memory building, recollection and thinking process. A term familiar with dementia is the Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a neurological disorder that affects old people and is characterized by severe dementia. Another type of dementia called the vascular dementia occurs after an episode of a stroke.

Contrary to popular belief or what you see on TV, dementia isn’t only related to slowly deteriorating memory or forgetting the names and identities of your own children. The condition begins and progresses slowly. It affects not only the memory but also communication, judgment and your ability to focus.

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The early stages of dementia are usually seen as a case of short-term memory loss that slowly progresses into a distressing long-term memory loss altogether in old age. If someone around you has been showing symptoms of declining memory, it’s important to recognize it and talk to the doctor. While dementia is not treatable in its essence, an underlying condition that might be causing the derangement of the memory building process may be corrected.

 

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Neurological Disorder Vs Mental illness

If you’ve ever visited a hospital (and I mean really taken your time to explore it!), you’d know that the neurology ward is completely separate from the psychiatric one. They’re never adjacent; heck, they might not be in the same building even!
Two terms that are often used synonymously by many of us are psychiatric illnesses and neurological disorders. While it’s true that the crux of the two relates to the brain, they are in reality two entirely different set of disorders and diseases.
Psychiatric or mental disorders are a group of conditions that primarily affect the personality of the individual without solid diagnostic evidence. Neurologic disorders, on the other hand, often present as a physical pathology of the brain such as a tumor that can cause not only personality and psychiatric symptoms but also other related motor and sensory symptoms.
Studies have shown that psychiatric illnesses usually involve the frontal lobe of the brain as well the visual areas whereas in neurological disorders, the pathology is widespread and not limited to a specific region.
While the two conditions are easily confused and used interchangeably, recognizing what you might be suffering from is crucial for an effective recovery. Get in touch with your physician today if you experience any symptoms of a brain disorder whether psychiatric or neurological!

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Mental Disorder Explained: Anxiety and Panic attacks

Picture this: you’re suddenly faced with a stressful situation; you feel your heart race uncontrollably, breathing is hard and you have an intense feeling of anxiety and discomfort. If this is you, you could be a victim of a panic attack.
Panic attacks and anxiety go hand in hand. They’re not normal reactions to stress and need professional intervention.

Most people, especially in our society, brush these attacks under the carpet and call it just a ‘phase’. Some might even advise you to get a hold of yourself and act sanely.

What people don’t understand is that panic attacks and anxiety are very much real. These mental conditions are triggered by stress, tension and fear. The levels of specific neurotransmitters in the brain fluctuate resulting in a state of panic, fear and anxiety.

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The solution? Therapy. Consulting with a trained professional is the first step to ‘getting hold’ of yourself and your condition. You doctor may prescribe you medicines if needed or ask you to engage in certain relaxation exercises and psychological therapy.

There is no shame in recognizing and acknowledging that you’re a patient of these conditions. Break the stigma and get treated for your panic attacks and anxiety today.

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Mental illness explained: Bipolar Disorder

Sometimes what you see on TV isn’t true; other times it touches on reality but doesn’t completely reveal the whole truth. If you’ve watched The Silver Lining Playbook, you’ve see how someone with bipolar disorder can be. But the condition is far more than what Bradley Cooper’s character portrayed it to be.

Bipolar, a personality disorder and a mental illness, can affect the social and mental well-being of the patients that fall victim to it. While we all have episodic mood swings once in a while, people with bipolar disorder fluctuate between two extremes of moods and personalities.

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When one time they’re happy and pleasant, the next moment they could become excessively angry and irritated, and the next they could go into a state of depression. But that’s something almost everyone now knows.

Bipolar disorder comes with other symptoms as well apart from the classic mood swings. People with this disorder are usually rebellious and take big risks during their aggravated state of mind. Suring this period, they may be impulsive and formulate seemingly impossible plans. Many patients with bipolar are also insomniacs with fast-paced thoughts and with lack of tiredness.

The opposite symptoms usually occur in their period of depression. Anxiety, sadness, lack of energy, and suicidal thoughts are characteristic of this state of mind.

The solution? Proper clinical treatment.

Once the condition is diagnosed, patients with bipolar disorder are put on therapy as well as certain medication like antipsychotics to alleviate the symptoms of this disorder.
Bipolar disorder can take a toll on the social life of the patient. Recognizing and treating this condition as soon as possible is the key to leading a better life.

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Mental Illness Explained: Schizophrenia

Back in October 2016, a certain headline in Pakistan blared and shook the world. A man diagnosed with schizophrenia committed a murder and was given a court order of execution. The Pakistan Supreme Court declared schizophrenia as ‘not a mental disorder’ henceforth leading to a flurry of criticism from across the globe.

This very notion by the highest court in Pakistan reflects how ignorant we are as a nation towards mental illnesses. Whether it is depression or severe schizophrenia, mental illnesses are considered imaginary in Pakistan.
However, schizophrenia is not an illness that can be taken lightly and it definitely is a mental disorder. Hate to break it to you, Supreme Court of Pakistan.

What Causes Schizophrenia?
The case percentage of schizophrenics has been rising steadily and while the root cause is a mystery, the disease is multifactorial. Genes can play a part as well as environmental factors. On a biological level, the brain of a schizophrenic is markedly different than a normal person. An imbalance in certain neurotransmitters is classic in schizophrenics.

What Happens in Schizophrenia?
Patients of this mental disorder suffer from a variety of different psychological symptoms. Hallucinations (usually auditory but sometimes visual) are a common finding in these patients. Schizophrenics are also characteristically paranoid and delusional. They are apathetic and do not engage in social activities. Some patients might also suffer from memory disorders.

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How is Schizophrenia Treated?
While no cure exists for schizophrenia, the symptoms can be lessened by both therapy and medical intervention. Antipsychotics are usually prescribed by the doctor to help relieve the severe psychological symptoms of schizophrenia.

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The Stigma of Mental Illness in Pakistan

‘Paagal’ – isn’t that what they call everyone with a mental illness in Pakistan?

To a great percentage population of Pakistan, anyone with a mental illness is quickly labeled as ‘paagal’ (mad). It doesn’t matter what kind of illness it is – a mild case of depression or hallucinating schizophrenia – the label remains constant: paagal.

Recent studies have revealed that cases of depression and anxiety have been on the rise. Yet in Pakistan only a fraction of them actually seek professional help. The lack of awareness coupled with the taboo has left patients with an actual mental illness helpless.

A common misconception here is that depression is temporary; triggered by short-term events that cause low moods. The truth is it’s not temporary and the low moods persist for a long time even after problems have been solved.

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Depression occurs on a cellular level in the brain and is cause by low levels of a neurotransmitter serotonin.

Similarly, anxiety is much more than just stress. It is also caused by disturbed levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. The medical basis of both anxiety and depression make them actual mental illnesses that need therapy and even pharmacological intervention.

The stigma surrounding mental illnesses is imminent in Pakistan. Socioeconomic wellbeing is affected not only because of the illness itself but because of how the society reacts to it.

The solution: education.

Sadly, the answer isn’t as simple as a 9-letter word. Education needs time and shattering generations-built myths and taboos need courage. Starting from an individual level and spreading the right knowledge among those around you is what can make the stigma around mental illnesses a little less burdensome.

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Pantene Hum Bridal Couture Week 2017

Bold, festive and fashionable – three words that effectively describe the Pantene Hum Bridal Couture Week.

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The month of December is the prime wedding season in Pakistan. Getting three wedding invites on the same day this month isn’t rare and finding a darzi (tailor) that will stitch your wedding clothes in time is almost close to impossible. To celebrate this festive vibe in the cold winter air and to deliver some trendy new inspiration, the PHBCW 2017 was held in Lahore a few days back.

Major designers took the chance to flaunt their latest designs and top-notch models lit the ramp up. From Mawra Hocane to Uzma Hassan, the list of the celebrities that participated in the PHBCW is extensive.

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While some designers went for a traditional approach in bridal wear – lehngas, gharara and shararas, others like Amina Yaseen took an entirely different trajectory altogether with a western gown-like bridal. The menswear line was not taken lightly either; Royal Tag, in particular, brought class to the ramp with a dark maroon tuxedo and a velvety bowtie to complement it. Lajwanti, on the other hand, went a little too eastern and gave a Mughal king impression.

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Let’s not forget the highlight of the PHBCW – the appearance of a young girl in a school uniform clad in makeup and bridal accessories. This walk was a collaboration between Ali Xeeshan Theater Studio and the UN Women Pakistan Association to raise awareness and condemn child marriages. Kudos to the designer for using this fashion platform for a deeper, more important message!

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