Mental health has come a long way from being a taboo topic to a subject that is now openly discussed without fear of being judged or rejected.
But it still has a long way to go, especially since there’s more to mental health than depression. In fact, over 450 different definitions of mental health conditions are identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, the standard reference for psychiatry of the American Psychiatric Association. (Read: How society’s perception on mental health changed through the years)
To mark World Mental Health Day this October 10, we call awareness to four uncommon mental health conditions. They may be strange and funny to some, but to the people diagnosed with these, they are no laughing matter.
Mental Health Condition: Trichotillomania
The hair-pulling disease is the more common term for this impulse disorder that has you literally yanking the hair off your head, lashes, or brows.
Stress is the main driver of this condition, and many say that hair pulling leaves them with a soothing feeling. But an article on webmd.com says it can also be genetic and accompanied by other mental health issues and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). Nail-biting (onychophagia), skin picking (dermatillomania), and hair eating (trichopagia or Rapunzel Syndrome) are OCDs that often accompany trichotillomania. (Read: Diocese of Caloocan Launches COVID Hopeline)
“They need to consult a psychiatrist,” said Dr. Maria Adelita Medina, who met with a family of hair pullers in a 2017 episode on trichotillomania by Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho. “We prescribe medication and psychotherapy.”
Mental Health Condition: Erotomania
If someone is absolutely convinced that a rich or famous person is in love with them, then they are likely to have erotomania. Otherwise known as De Clerambault’s Syndrome, it is considered delusional because in most cases, as healthline.com puts it, the person hasn’t even met the one they’re fixated on. Furthermore, a person with erotomania may believe that the object of their fancy is sending them secret messages, either through the news or mental telepathy.
Celebrity stalkers are said to suffer from this condition, many going to the extent of breaking into the stars’ homes. A combination of medication and therapy helps address erotomania. (Read: 5 Ways to Achieve Peace of Mind Amid the Pandemic)
“There’s nothing positive, healthy, or adaptive about erotomania,” wrote UCLA Health Sciences Clinical Professor Dr. Joseph M. Pierre in his article for psychologytoday.com. “It’s one that typically results in considerable suffering for the person with the delusion, as well as the unfortunate targets of their obsession.”
Mental Health Condition: Aboulomania
We all have moments of indecision (Should I get the blue dress or the black one? Order pasta or a pizza?), but those with aboulomania suffer a mental condition that renders them unable to make decisions at all. Besides their inability to make decisions, those with aboulomania are overly dependent on others, easily hurt by criticism and disapproval, and cannot assert themselves.
An overly controlling parent or parents is said to be the cause of aboulomania: these parents reward the child for being dependent on them, and punish them each time they exercise independence. This makes the child weak, helpless, and doubt his ability to do things on his own. (Read: Nonie and Shamaine on mental health: ‘Parents should open their minds’)
Psychotherapy is the recommended form of treatment for this condition, as is medication to address the depression and anxiety that usually go with it. Both are short-term treatments so as not to create a dependence on them.
Mental Health Condition: Paris Syndrome
According to theculturetrip.com, 0.0012 percent of the one million Japanese tourists who visit Paris will experience delusions, dizziness, hallucinations, sweating, and feelings of persecution. Why? Because of the Paris Syndrome, a condition wherein tourists feel that the City of Light—a place associated with class, style, and luxury—did not meet their expectations. (Read: 4 Places to Escape Near Metro Manila to Save Your Mental Health)
The Japanese Embassy in Paris takes this syndrome very seriously. A 24-hour emergency hotline accommodates nationals struggling with the unpleasant effects of this psychological condition. French-based Japanese psychiatrist Hiroaki Ota first recognized the condition and coined the term Paris Syndrome in the 1980s. The only way to cure it: Pack your bags and go home.