We often experience significant stress due to troubles at work or pushing ourselves too hard. Failure to take care of prolonged stress makes the situation worse.
By being aware of warning signs early on and seeking treatment in time, we can maintain our mental health. Thoughts such as “I am stressed out because I am weak in mind” and “I am not working hard enough” are misconceptions. Just like our bodies, our mind needs rest and healing as well.
—quoted from “Taking Care of Our Minds as Well: a Site Dedicated in Supporting the Mental Health of the Youth”, a website established by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
Major Types of Mental Health Issues
Ended relationship, quarreling with a friend, failing an exam—we experience all kinds of distressing affairs during our everyday lives. During such down times, everyone feels pain and sorrow. Yet after a few days one usually regains the positive attitude little by little.
However, if you remain in a melancholic mood all day long for weeks after weeks, it is possible that you have depression. When concerned about a continuing symptom, it is necessary that you consult an expert.
If you have more than five of the following symptoms (the five symptoms include either No.1 or No.2, or both) lasting longer than two weeks, it is recommended that you consult an expert.
1. Feeling sad and melancholic throughout the day
2. Loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy; nothing makes you happy no matter what you do
3. Loss or increase of appetite
4. Could not sleep, or sleeping too much
5. Experiencing agitation and irritation
6. Getting tired easily, lacking motivation
7. Having low self-worth
8. Lack of concentration, could not make decision
9. Suicidal thoughts; wishing you were gone
One suddenly experiences episode of intense anxiety without particular reason, accompanied by rapid heartbeat and dizziness. One also experience troubled breathing, and depending on the situation, fear of dying. Such episodes of anxiety and physical distress are signs of what is called panic; if one experiences recurring panic attacks, it is said that one has the panic disorder. During a panic attack, the patient suddenly develops the following symptoms, and the attack peaks within 10 minutes.
•Palpitation, increased pulse rate •Perspiration •Trembling
•Shortness of breath, trouble breathing •Feeling of suffocation
•Chest pain, tightness in the chest •Nausea, sickness in the stomach
•Dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling of losing consciousness
•Feeling detached from reality; feeling that you are not yourself
•Fear of losing control and going crazy •Fear of dying
•Numbness, tingling •Feeling cold or hot
It is not uncommon to go on a diet due to bodyweight concerns, or occasionally feasting for stress relief and ended up eating too much. However, if these behaviors become excessive such that you are unable to eat at all or go on frequent binge eating, it is possible that you have eating disorder. If the disorder continues to develop, it can cause various sicknesses and sometimes can even be life-threatening.
Use of illegal drugs such as stimulant, marihuana, LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), sniffing glue (or sniffing organic solvent of similar nature), and opium etc. is prohibited by the law and constitutes drug abuse (even if it is your first time using it). Overdose of drugs such as sleeping pills and painkillers is also considered drug abuse.
“I just want to try it out once”—it begins with such seemingly harmless curiosity. However, your body gets used to the drugs due to drug resistance, and you need larger and larger dosage to “get high” every time you choose to use drugs. Consequently, even though you thought that you would only use the drugs once, before you realize, drug-use has become a habit of yours. Soon you will not be able to quit drug use, and you become drug dependent.
If you are addicted to illegal drugs, it is necessary that you enroll in a drug rehabilitation program run by a medical institution or counseling facility that specializes in this area; you can also participate in Self Help Group programs such as the DARC and the NA, in which people who have similar experiences give each other support. In these programs, people who have drug dependency share their experiences of troubles and hardships, encouraging and supporting each other in the process of drug rehabilitation.
Hospitals that Specialize in Mental Health Care
◆Psychiatry and Psychoneurotic Departments
Though having different names, these two departments specialize in the same area. Any medical institution with either psychiatry or psychoneurotic (or both) department offers mental health care.
◆Department of Psychosomatic Medicine
Department of Psychosomatic Medicine mainly treats psychosomatic illness in which mental and psychological factors (such as stress) play major roles in the development of physical symptoms (such as stomach ulcer and bronchial asthma). However, psychosomatic medicine does include medical institution that offers mental health care. Yet the kinds of mental health issues that can be treated, such as slight depression and neurosis, are very limited.
If you are concerned about your mental health, but do not know if you should seek treatment at a medical institution or not, you can take advantage of public counseling services at a counter near your location.
The following are links to local public health centers and service locations, as well as mental health care establishments at ordinance-designated cities throughout Japan.
Centers of mental health care and well-being in Japan
Counseling service offered by mental health specialist is available via the phone and in person.
Major Counseling Service Available Throughout the Nation
◆Mental health counseling telephone line: 0570-064-556
After dialing this number, you will be transferred to your local public mental health counseling lines.
Please use the following link to check the hours of your local counseling lines.
◆Center for Suicide Prevention
This is a public counseling service that deals with distresses due to physical and mental health issues.
Please use the following link to check the counseling service available at the ordinance-designated cities.
◆Helpline for a foreigner
Counseling Service for Parents
All counseling services are free of charge and confidential.
◆Counseling regarding bullying and truancy: available at education centers of prefectures, cities, wards, towns, and villages etc.
◆Counseling regarding social withdrawal: available at local social withdrawal support establishments at ordinance-designated cities.
◆Counseling regarding developmental disorders: available at developmental disorder patient support establishments at ordinance-designated cities.
Edited by Takashi Taniguchi, M.D.
Taiyujicho Taniguchi Clinic