Mental illnesses are often at least partly genetic. When environmental factors trigger symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or addiction to controlled substances, people will often struggle to manage their daily lives. Although mental illnesses may not be immediately apparent from people’s outward appearances, this does not lessen their debilitating impact on lives. With treatment, it is possible to improve people’s quality of life. Mental health is an important component of overall health, and learning about mental illnesses can help you be aware of the symptoms and see when someone needs help.
Types of Mental Illness
A number of conditions fall under the heading of mental illnesses. In addition to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and addiction, mental illnesses also include diseases such as bipolar disorder and cyclothymic disorder. Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia involve distorted thinking and possibly even hearing voices or seeing images that are not real. Obsessive-compulsive disorder and personality disorders such as paranoid personality disorder can interfere with social relationships and work or school as well.
Anxiety disorders involve feelings of anxiety that are more serious than the typical nervousness or stress that people feel in some situations. While it’s normal to feel nervous about a test or when you are meeting new people, someone with an anxiety disorder will feel excessively fearful or scared when confronted with some situations. Anxiety disorders may lead someone to avoid situations that cause fear, so school or work performance may suffer. Phobias and panic disorders are connected with anxiety disorders.
Feeling sad is a natural response in life. Depression is more serious than typical sad feelings, so serious that it impacts daily functioning. People with depression often experience disruptions in sleep, either sleeping more or less than usual. An inability to concentrate is also common, and changes in appetite usually lead people to either lose or gain weight. Although these hopeless feelings can feel debilitating, depression is treatable. Diagnosis of depression can take time, but once it’s diagnosed, medication and therapy can be effective for improving symptoms.
Eating disorders involve either eating too much or severely restricting food intake. People struggling with eating disorders have excessive concerns and fears about their weight. Anorexia involves restrictive eating due to fears of being fat and gaining weight. Bulimia nervosa involves binging and then purging to eliminate excess calories. Binge eating also involves overeating, but this type of behavior does not involve purging. Treatment of eating disorders often involves medication, nutritional counseling, and therapy.
Substance abuse involves misuse of drugs or alcohol. People who abuse substances continue to function to manage their lives. However, with habitual abuse of controlled substances, some people may develop a debilitating addiction. Addiction is a disease that impacts every area of life, disrupting personal relationships, school, work, finances, and health. Using the controlled substance becomes the most important thing in the addict’s life. Treatment and recovery from addiction can be challenging, but with ongoing effort, many people achieve sobriety.
The Importance of Mental Health
Mental health has a direct correlation with physical health. People with positive mental health also have stronger personal relationships with family and friends, and they tend to make better life choices. Although it’s normal for life to have good times and bad times, having mental stability helps people manage both the good times and the not-so-good times. Because mental illnesses can be treatable, especially with early diagnosis, these diseases do not have to be debilitating. Instead, people can take a proactive approach to take care of their whole health, physical and emotional.