Mental Illness: What It Is and How to Help Those Suffering

Mental Illness is a serious threat to our health and safety. Though the term mental refers to our minds, mental illness typically affects our entire bodies. There are multiple mental health disorders that fall under the scope of mental illness. These disorders affect a variety of things. When someone is suffering from mental illness their way of thinking is changed, their moods are altered, and their behavior may seem out of the ordinary. 

Mental illness typically causes problems in many areas of life. It affects relationships, physical health, and overall quality of life. Because there are so many different kinds of mental illness, it is impossible to understand fully how the illness occurs. But, it is believed that mental illness is hereditary. It is passed on through our genes, but the symptoms are often prompted by life events. 

Mental Illness Signs and Symptoms

If you find yourself wondering whether you may be suffering from mental illness, ask yourself whether you’ve experienced any of these symptoms listed below. Although there are many different types of mental illness, the symptoms generally overlap.

Depression or Lowered Moods

Everyone has bad days, but sometimes a bad mood isn’t because of a bad day. Depression is one of the most prominent forms of mental illness. It is becoming increasingly common throughout the United States. Across the world, more than 264 people are struggling with depression. Though it is more common in women, depression affects all genders and all ages. 

Depression or lowered moods can also be a sign of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes those afflicted to experience extreme highs, followed by extreme lows. During these lows, the afflicted experience depression. Depression is the leading cause of suicide. Suffering from depression or bipolar disorder increases the likelihood that a person will commit suicide. 

Depression and bipolar disorder are the two mental illnesses most related to a lowered mood. But it can also be linked to anxiety, ADHD, and other forms of mental illness.

Confusion or Inability to Concentrate

Confusion is not always a sign of mental illness. We all experience days where we seem to be out of touch with the things around us, especially if we are tired. But, confusion or the inability to concentrate is associated with quite a few forms of mental illness.

The most closely related to this symptom is ADHD, or attention deficit, hyperactive disorder. When people hear the term ADHD, they automatically think of small children that can not sit still and fail to pay attention. While that may be true, the condition often carries over into adulthood. This mental illness is characterized by difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

In adulthood, ADHD causes low self-esteem, relationship issues, and problems in school or work environments. The condition is relatively easy to treat with medication and therapy. If left untreated, ADHD can lead to many problems.

Major depressive disorder is another mental illness that causes a loss in focus. In fact, a lack of concentration is one of the most common symptoms linked to depression. This lack of focus may cause problems in your daily life. Not being able to focus is incredibly frustrating and can make it difficult to make decisions.

Another mental illness linked to a loss in concentration is schizophrenia. This is a rare mental disorder that causes the afflicted to lose their grasp on reality. The seriousness of the disorder varies from case to case, as do the symptoms. Generally, visual and auditory hallucinations and delusions are the telltale sign of schizophrenia. These three disorders are often linked to a loss of focus, but this list is not comprehensive.

Mania or Elevated Moods

Mania is a difficult term to describe. It is typically described as a state of elevated mood. But, a better description would be a state of elevated energy. Unfortunately, mania is not solely a state of happiness. It is a state during which an individual behaves and thinks in a way that is completely different from how they would normally behave and act. 

While manic, it is common to feel a sense of euphoria, invincibility, impulsivity, anxiety, and detachment from reality. A racing mind, quick speech, trouble sleeping, and weird or unusual behavior are signs to watch for. These symptoms can easily be seen by people close to the afflicted. 

As we’ve said, mania is more than a state of happiness. The condition leads the afflicted to make bad decisions and engage in risky behavior. These risky behaviors can impact the lives of the afflicted and their families. Sometimes, manic states lead to hospitalizations. Though other forms of mental illness may result in a manic state, bipolar disorder is the most related. 

Excessive Feelings of Worry, Fear, Guilt, or Anger

At some point, we all worry, we all fear something, we feel guilt or become angry. But for some people, these feelings are excessive. They have a difficult time snapping themselves out of a mood and feel these negative emotions more deeply than the situation requires. When these negative feelings are a constant battle or overwhelm you, it may be due to an underlying mental illness. Almost every mental illness is closely related to at least one of these feelings.

Exhaustion or Lost Interest

When we feel down, we tend to feel tired and uninterested in the things going on around us. But, these are also feelings associated with depression and bipolar disorder. Just because you are tired, or feeling lazy, does not necessarily mean that you are depressed. But, if the exhaustion or lost interest continues over an extended period of time, it may be due to depression. 

Feelings of Detachment

When you begin to feel detached from yourself or your surroundings, it can be scary. You may not understand what is going on and you may be anxious to feel yourself again. Feelings of detachment are associated with a variety of mental health issues including depression.

Feelings of detachment accompany many personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder. This feeling is often described as numbness or lack of caring. It is often the result of feeling stressed. Because it is a result of feeling stressed, feelings of detachment are also associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Changes in Habits

The most noticeable symptom of mental illness is a change in one’s behavior or thinking. This results in a change in habits. Eating habits often change, as do the sex drive of those afflicted. But other things may change as well. When someone suffers from mental illness, there may be times where they dress differently, physically change their appearance, and abruptly change their temperament. 

These are all signs of an underlying mental illness. However, they are also signs that are noticeable to those around them. If you notice that a loved one is experiencing extreme changes in habits, you should check in with them and suggest that they consult a professional regarding their mental health.

Lack of Connections

Another noticeable effect of mental illness is a lack of connections. This may be a lack of social connections, lack of hobbies, or even a lack of connections with surroundings. When someone is suffering from a mental illness, they withdraw from their friends, family, and the activities they once enjoyed. This is due to a variety of things. Insecurity, feeling as though they’ve lost control, and depression all lead to a lack of connections and withdrawal.

This is another symptom that you can see from the outside looking in. If you notice that a loved one has a lack of connections or is withdrawing from those people and things that they love, take note. Check-in with your loved one and ask how they are doing. Try to feel them out and if necessary suggest that they consult someone regarding their mental health.

Alcohol or Drug Abuse

Many people believe that abusing alcohol or drugs is a mental illness all on its own. But this abuse is often the result of prolonged suffering from a mental illness. Many people turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with the things that they struggle with. They use it to cope with feelings of anger and pain. People use them to escape from their own reality. 

If you are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, it is important to seek help. With or without the addition of a mental illness, these habits are difficult to break and detrimental to your relationships and lifestyle. If you believe that your drug or alcohol abuse is in addition to a mental illness, consult a mental health professional

Thoughts of Suicide

Thoughts of suicide differ from thoughts of death. Many people experience unwelcome thoughts of death. They may be under a lot of pressure and state that they wish they’d never been born. Other people may say that they would rather die than do something they do not want to do. These are not thoughts of suicide, they are passive thoughts of death.

These thoughts become thoughts of suicide when they become active. When you find yourself considering ways that could end your life, you are experiencing active thoughts of suicide. Thoughts such as these are not normal and are almost always a sign that there is an underlying mental health condition. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or find yourself considering the subject of suicide frequently, you should consult a mental health professional immediately. These thoughts are dangerous and there is always a better day ahead. 

Mental Illness Treatment

Depending on the type of mental illness, there are a couple of types of treatment. Typically, medication and therapy together are the most effective form of treatment. Obtaining a mental health diagnosis is the first step. 

Once this diagnosis is obtained, you can begin therapy and try medication. It is important to avoid becoming disheartened. The first medication may not work for you and it may take multiple sessions before you begin to feel better. But you will feel better if you stick with it.

Helping Loved Ones Suffering from Mental Illness

When someone you love is struggling with a mental illness, it can be difficult to cope with. The situation may weigh on you emotionally, physically, and financially. Remember to take care of yourself first. More than anything, your loved one needs a strong support system. You can only be strong for them if you are taking care of yourself.

Watch for the physical signs and symptoms of mental illness and suggest that your loved one seeks professional help for their mental illness. Reassure them that there is nothing wrong with them and that they will be okay.

Published by alswartz

I am an aspiring novelist working on my first book. I have an interest in mental health and each of my works is related to mental health in some way.

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