While many people focus on their physical well-being, the food they eat, exercise, and getting regular check-ups for vision and dental care, they often forget to take stock of their emotional and spiritual needs. Everyday demands can take their toll, and looking after one’s mental health can help preserve a person’s ability to enjoy life. Doing this involves balancing life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. However, stress, depression, and anxiety can affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine because it affects every aspect of your life.
Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave and can affect daily living relationships, and physical health. Factors in people’s lives, interpersonal connections, and biological issues all contribute to mental health disruptions, and it’s essential to pay attention to the warning signs.
No physical test or scan reliably indicates whether a person has developed a mental illness. Mental illness signs and symptoms can vary depending on the disorder, circumstances, and other factors. Symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. The following are possible signs of a mental health disorder:
- withdrawing from friends, family, and colleagues
- sleeping too much or too little
- eating too much or too little
- avoiding activities that they would usually enjoy
- having consistently low energy
- feeling hopeless
- using mood-altering substances, including alcohol and nicotine, more frequently
- displaying negative emotions
- being confused
- being unable to complete daily tasks, such as getting to work or cooking a meal
- having persistent thoughts or memories that reappear regularly
- thinking of causing physical harm to themselves or others
- hearing voices
- experiencing delusions
Common mental health disorders
The most common types of mental illness are as follows:
Anxiety Disorders: We all experience anxiety. For example, speaking in front of a group can make us anxious, but that anxiety also motivates us to prepare and practice. Driving in heavy traffic is another common source of stress, but it helps keep us alert and cautious to avoid accidents. However, when feelings of intense fear and distress become overwhelming and prevent us from doing everyday activities, an anxiety disorder may be the cause. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. Over 40 million adults in the U.S. (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile, approximately 7% of children aged 3-17 experience issues with anxiety each year. Most people develop symptoms before age 21.
Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to think clearly. People with bipolar experience high and low moods—known as mania and depression—which differ from the typical ups and downs most people experience. The average age of onset is about 25, but it can occur in the teens or, more uncommonly, in childhood. The condition affects men and women equally, with about 2.8% of the U.S. population diagnosed with bipolar disorder and nearly 83% of cases classified as severe. If left untreated, bipolar disorder usually worsens. However, many people live well with the condition if they have a suitable treatment plan, including psychotherapy, medications, a healthy lifestyle, a regular schedule, and early identification of symptoms.
Schizophrenia Disorders: Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness. The exact prevalence of schizophrenia is difficult to measure, but estimates range from 0.25% to 0.64% of U.S. adults. Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in someone younger than 12 or older than 40. It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.
There are various methods for managing mental health problems. Treatment is highly individual, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some strategies or treatments are more successful in combination with others. A person living with a chronic mental disorder may choose different options at various stages in their life. The individual needs to work closely with a doctor who can help them identify their needs and provide them with suitable treatment.
Treatments can include:
Psychotherapy, or talking therapies
This type of treatment takes a psychological approach to treating mental illness. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, exposure therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy are examples. Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and some primary care physicians carry out this type of treatment. It can help people understand the root of their mental illness and help them start to work on more healthful thought patterns that support everyday living and reduce the risk of isolation and self-harm.
Some people take prescribed medications. Although these cannot cure mental disorders, some medications can improve symptoms and help a person resume social interaction and a normal routine while they work on their mental health. Some of these medications work by boosting the body’s absorption of feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin, from the brain. Other drugs either increase the overall levels of these chemicals or prevent their degradation or destruction.
A person coping with mental health difficulties will usually need to change their lifestyle to facilitate wellness. Such changes might include reducing alcohol intake, sleeping more, and eating a balanced, nutritious diet. In addition, people may need to take time away from work or resolve issues with personal relationships that may be causing damage to their mental health. People with conditions such as anxiety or depressive disorder may benefit from relaxation techniques, including deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness. Whether via self-help groups or close friends and family, having a support network can also be essential to recovery from mental illness.
If you or someone you care about is confronting these types of issues related to mental health, please get in touch with Good Therapy’s team of licensed professional counselors and therapists today at 630-473-3971.