Mental illness is much more common than many people think, and despite the name, is capable of causing physical health problems too. Just like any physical illness, mental illnesses require proper diagnosis and treatment, and most people would benefit from having more information under their belts about these conditions. Learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness could save yourself or a loved one, so here’s what you need to know.
Mental Illness Primer: Basic Information and Common Disorders
A mental illness is a mental health condition that affects the brain, behavior, thinking patterns, and mood. Mental illness affects about one in five adults, but it can also affect children and teens. Among the most common disorders are:
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Eating disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- ADD and ADHD
- Substance use disorders
Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness
There are many different kinds of mental illness, and just as physical illnesses have many and variable symptoms, so do mental illnesses. Moreover, each person may experience the same disorder very differently. Some of the common symptoms of mental illness include:
Physical: Aches and pains, especially in the abdomen, back, and head.
Emotional: Feelings of sadness, fear, guilt, anger, and hostility.
Sexual: Changes to the sex drive, including loss of sexual desire or reckless sexual behavior.
Sleep: Sleep pattern disruptions, insomnia, hypersomnia, fatigue, and lack of energy.
Behavioral: Inability to cope with stress, mood changes, confusion, alcohol and drug use, and changes to eating habits.
Psychological: Paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, violence, and suicidal thoughts.
Interpersonal: Withdrawal from friends, family, and social situations, giving up activities and hobbies, and the inability to relate to others.
How Is Mental Illness Treated?
Again, just as physical illnesses have different treatments, there too are a variety of treatments for mental illness. Among the most common and successful treatments are a combination of medication and psychotherapy and sometimes cognitive behavioral therapy to address eating disorders and substance abuse disorders.
Am I at Risk?
Mental illness has a number of risk factors, and the majority of them cannot be controlled or avoided. For instance, one of the biggest risk factors is having a close relative with a mental illness because genetics and environmental factors can both contribute to mental illness. Other risk factors include chronic medical conditions, childhood abuse or neglect, alcohol or drug use, brain damage from a traumatic brain injury, stress, trauma, and having a previous mental illness.
Should I Seek Help?
If you’re experiencing symptoms that have started to affect your daily life, school, work, or relationships, seek help for diagnosis and treatment. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, immediately call 911, a mental health specialist, a suicide prevention hotline, a friend, a family member, a doctor, or somebody else you trust. Mental illness typically doesn’t go away on its own, and will progressively get worse if left untreated. If you suspect that you have a mental illness, seek help from a doctor, healthcare practitioner, or mental health specialist right away.
Mental illness is common, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it affects about 20 percent of people, and healthcare practitioners are still working hard to get the word out there that you’re not alone and that help is available. For more information, contact Williams Integracare Clinic today.