Cystic Fibrosis News Today Forums Forums Support Groups Mental Health Physical Illness Vs Mental Illness: Why?

  • Physical Illness Vs Mental Illness: Why?

    Posted by bailey-anne-vincent on December 16, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    QUESTION: Is physical illness taken more seriously than mental illness?

    My column tomorrow is about a tricky subject: mental health. And, mostly, the ways in which I’ve failed to advocate appropriately for mental health amongst my peers.

    It all started because I was talking to a friend about Lewy Body Dementia, which killed Robin Williams. At the time, I was contextualizing it as inherently different from depression with suicidal delineations, since it’s technically more somatic in nature.

    We also talked about the movie Still Alice. It is probably one of the most empathy-inducing films I have seen for awareness of Alzheimer’s and correlating diseases.

    “Everyone should see that movie once in their life,” I told my friend, “It will create empathy for those battling brain disorders.”

    But this goes back to my original problem… What is the difference between brain disease and mental illness? Yes, there is a difference in terms of biology but… Do we find that diseases which impact our mind (like dementia) get less sympathy than those that impact our body?

    I believe the answer is yes. We seem more likely to trivialize or disregard the harrowing impact of a disease, when it’s less somatically apparent, and more impactful of personality.

    In short, if a disease messes with our communication skills or makes us seem less intelligent to the outside world, the world seems far less likely to champion, relate to, or fight for the cause.

    Why? I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences on this subject!

    tim-blowfield replied 2 years, 8 months ago 3 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • tim-blowfield

    August 17, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    I would agree with your thesis especially with someone with CF. CF resp disease is usually at the forefront. It is not unreasonable that a PWCF may have depression and mental illness  the result of their long battle. A proportion will have mental illness in similar proportion to ‘normal’ persons. But is some at least of the mental illness of PWCT the result of the abnormal electrolyte balance within the brain cells such as high salt, potassium and calcium together with high intracellular water. This needs investigating but has to date been largely ignored.

    Is the effect of the corrector/modulators affecting these intracellular electrolyte and hydration levels and thereby affecting mental state?

  • paul-met-debbie

    August 21, 2021 at 7:34 am

    Another aspect may need (further) research. With the poor nutritional state many pwcf are in, there is a distinct possibility in my view that there is insufficient supply or disbalance of vital amino acids in the body. Since all essential proteins are formed out of these amino acids (proteins are at the base of biological life), many processes in the body and brain (again showing that these are one) might be under pressure.

    For instance, many of the neurotransmitters that regulate the functioning of the brain and are known to influence our mental state, are formed out of combinations of these amino acids and are proteins. Think of  serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, epinephrine, histamine, oxytocin etc.

    The body can produce some of the amino acids by itself, but still the basis of all of these processes is the food we eat and the effectiveness of the body to extract what it needs to produce these amino acids from the food.  If there is a disturbance at that base level, this may influence the entire chain of life processes that follows. I sometimes wonder if an imbalance in the amino acid and protein network might also play a role in the occurence of mental imbalance many pwcf are familiar with, next to the more obvious causes of mental problems they can experience.

    All of this emphasizes that a hard distinction between mental and physical problems can not and should not be made, we have to keep an open mind in this as well.

  • tim-blowfield

    August 21, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Certainly, Paul, inadequate amino acid intake and deficiency is sadly well known, Marasmus, Kwashiorkor etc are all associated with mental illness and malfunction. Individual amino acid deficiencies do occur such as of Lysine in high grain diets resulting in Niacin deficiency. Anxiety and depression are well known. PWCF should have the services of a good dietitian and most do have supplementary vitamins and minerals. It will be interesting to see what changes with the use of the corrector/potentiators.

Log in to reply.