Mental Illness

1 What is Mental Illness?

A wide range of mental health conditions is called mental illness, also known as a mental disorder.

These disorders affect your everyday life most especially when it comes to thinking, behavior and your mood, it causes a poor ability to function in an ordinary life.

Eating disorders, depression, addictive behaviors, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia are some of the examples of mental illness.

Symptoms and signs of mental illness may vary between specific disorders, you won’t be able to do the things that normal people do with their everyday life.

The causes of mental illness are not clear and there are treatments for mental illness.

2 Symptoms

Mental illness has symptoms that vary widely depending on the situations and disorders. Mental illness can affect behaviors, emotions, and thoughts.

Some examples of mental illness include:

  • Excessive fear or worries.
  • Detachment from reality or delusion.
  • Feeling sad or down.
  • Trouble understanding and relating to situations.
  • Significant tiredness.
  • Confused thinking.
  • Excessive anger or violence or hostility.
  • Extreme feelings of guilt.
  • Major changes in eating habits.
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities.
  • Reduced ability to concentrate.
  • Extreme mood changes of highs and lows.
  • Paranoia or hallucinations.
  • Low energy or problem with sleeping.
  • Inability to cope with daily problems.
  • Sex drive changes.
  • Stress.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Inability to relate to situations and people and suicidal thinking. 

A headache, back pain, stomach pain or unexplained aches are physical problems that can be symptoms of mental illness.

If you have suicidal thoughts or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call 911 or a suicide hotline in the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Call a doctor.

3 Causes

A variety of genetic and environmental factors is believed to be the cause of mental illness.

These factors include:

  • Environmental exposures before birth like inflammatory conditions.
  • Stress.
  • Toxins and if the baby is exposed to drugs and alcohol while still in the womb.
  • Brain chemistry, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems changes leading to depression.
  • Inherited traits, if you have a relative that has a mental illness because some genes may trigger it.

4 Making a Diagnosis

To diagnose which mental illness you have tests like physical exam, laboratory tests, psychological evaluation must be taken.

You may be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Bring a family member or your closest friend to support you.

Bring a notebook so that you can write down the details and relevant information. List down all the things that you want to ask your doctor.

Write down the family history and what are the symptoms that you encountered or that your family or friend noticed.

List down the past and present major stresses and traumatic events that happened in your life.

You can ask the specialist:

  • Based on my symptoms, do I have a mental illness?
  • What type do I have?
  • How can I cope with this?
  • How do you treat this?
  • Why can’t I get over it on my own?
  • Are there any treatments?
  • How long will it take?
  • Are there any medications I can take?
  • Can I do therapy?
  • What can I do to help myself or what can my family and friends do to help me with my condition?
  • Do you have ant recommended websites or brochures that I can take a look or research? 

Write down all the medications, supplements and vitamins that you are taking.

Your doctor might ask you these questions:

  • When did you notice the symptoms?
  • Does anyone in your family have this?
  • How are you or your family affected by this?
  • Did you have any treatment already?
  • What did you do to feel better?
  • What makes it worse?
  • Did you take any over the counter medicines?
  • If so, did it help you and in what terms?
  • Do you use drugs or drink alcohol? 

You may be asked about your feelings, thoughts, symptoms, and behavior patterns.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is published by the American Psychiatric Association which has the defining symptoms of each mental illness and is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions.

The main classes of mental illness includes:

  • Neurodevelopmental like ADHD or autism.
  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders.
  • Detachment from reality.
  • Bipolar and related disorders that have episodes of mania and depression.
  • Depressive disorders like premenstrual dysphoric and major depressive disorder.
  • Anxiety disorders which include panic disorder.
  • Phobias and excessive worrying.
  • Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.
  • Repetitive thoughts.
  • Hoarding disorder and trichotillomania.
  • Trauma and stressor-related disorders like PTSD.
  • Dissociative disorders.
  • Somatic symptom and related disorders like hypochondriasis.
  • Eating disorder.
  • Elimination disorder.
  • Sleep-wake disorders.
  • Sexual dysfunctions.
  • Gender dysphoria.
  • Disruptive, impulse-control and conduct disorders such as kleptomania.
  • Substance-related and addictive disorders include gambling disorder.
  • Neurocognitive disorders that affect your thinking and reasoning.
  • Personality disorders like antisocial.
  • Paraphilic disorders like sexual sadism.
  • And other mental disorders that are because of other medical conditions.

5 Treatment

Mental illness treatments depend on how moderate or severe your case is.

A lot of people will have to help you cope with mental illness, your family and friends who will support you all throughout, your primary doctor and a physician, psychiatrist for a treatment of mental illness, psychotherapists like a psychologist, counselor, and social worker.

If it is only mild mental illness, it may be easy.

If you have severe mental illness, the treatment is psychotherapy or talk therapy and the medications are antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, mood-stabilizing medications, antipsychotic medications, and brain stimulation treatments. Find time to talk to your doctor about these medications and treatments.

6 Prevention

We can prevent mental illness by:

  • consulting your physician if you feel you have a health condition,
  • have regular check-ups,
  • pay attention to warning signs,
  • control your stress,
  • have enough sleep,
  • eat healthy foods,
  • exercise regularly.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Several homeopathic remedies exist for mental illness.

Homeopathic remedies are used to treat people suffering from psychological and physical problems, it treats people with acute and chronic psychological disorders, including phobias, anxieties and depression, and mental and emotional states of confusion, and with abuse problems.

Here are some of the remedies, a person who needs Nux vomica or poison nut is self-reliant and can be sentimental, a person who needs Arsenicum album (arsenic) is restless, fearful, perfectionist type of person with anorexic tendencies.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Coping with mental illness can be hard but these steps may be helpful:

  • Stick to your treatment plan even if you don’t have mental illness anymore for it may re-occur again.
  • Avoid the use of drugs and alcohol.
  • Exercise and stay active always.
  • Avoid decision making because you are not thinking clearly at this stage.
  • Give yourself permission to do less to avoid stress.
  • Be a positive thinker.
  • Try to adapt to changes.
  • Use stress management techniques like relaxation methods. 

Contact a support group from your area like National Alliance on Mental Illness. Stay connected with your loved ones.

9 Risks and Complications

You are at risk of having a mental illness:

  • If you have a relative with mental illness.
  • You had a stressful situation.
  • You just got a divorce.
  • A death of a loved one.
  • Ongoing chronic disorder.
  • Traumatic brain injury.
  • Traumatic experiences such as being assaulted.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Being abused. 

About 1 in 5 adults has a mental illness, it can be at any age, either men or women.

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