Are you worried about your mental health or the mental health of someone close to you? You may not know the signs of mental health disorders or when it might be time to seek help or support. Read on to find out more about a wide range of common mental illnesses, their symptoms and how they can be treated.
What is mental illness?
The simple definition of mental illness is that it is a brain-based condition that affects thinking, behaviors and emotions. There are over 200 classified forms of mental illness, and some are more common than others. Mental health conditions can be caused by so many factors including genetics, environment, biochemical imbalance, or a combination of all of these factors.
Spotting the warning signs
We’re living in a world now where mental health is becoming part of the conversation. But there is still a huge stigma, especially in certain countries and cultures. It’s normal for people to experience bad mental health from time to time but when the concern is affecting your ability to function and causing you great amounts of stress, it may be a mental illness, and this is something that needs to be addressed and treated. But how do you know when you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health condition? What are the warning signs and what should you be aware of?
Firstly, you should look at behavior. If there is a sudden change in your behavior or the behavior of someone else around you, it might be beneficial to explore why. This can be something subtle that develops over time, so it is important to pay attention to your behavior or the behavior of your loved one. Some examples of common signs that a mental illness may be present include excessive worrying or fear, feeling sad, or experiencing extreme mood changes. Our emotions tell us a lot about ourselves. Of course, there may be periods in our lives where we feel sad or worried about something or someone but if these feelings are overwhelming you and affecting your daily life, it is something that should be looked at.
Secondly, you should look at your habits or the habits of those around you. A change in sleeping or eating habits without another medical explanation can be a sign of mental illness. If you find yourself losing your appetite or experiencing increased hunger, sleeping too much, or struggling to sleep, these can all be warning signs of physiological issues manifesting under the surface.
Thirdly, if you notice any recurring physical sensations or complaints including headaches, stomach aches, fatigue and dizziness, and other medical conditions have been ruled out, then you should get a mental health check with a doctor and they may suggest more appointments or services and give you more advice and information before a diagnosis is made.
Finally, if you have a change in your thoughts or emotions such as feeling disconnected from your surroundings, having heightened senses, having difficulty concentrating, or remembering events that have happened, your mental health should be assessed. Any feelings of apathy and no longer having a desire to do activities you or the person you love usually enjoy is a sign of depression and should not be ignored.
Mental health disorders
There are a variety of mental health disorders, the most common ones are anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, and OCD. Of course, many common symptoms overlap with different illnesses, and it can be hard to uncover some mental health conditions. But all the information in this article is to educate and not diagnose.
Anxiety is a normal human emotion but when it starts to impact your daily life and you experience feelings of panic or worry for a long duration or avoid things you enjoy or situations because you feel fearful or worried, it’s time to get some help and support. If you fit the criteria, you may or may not be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. But there are many ways you can alleviate anxiety from talking therapies to medication and holistic therapies, there will be an individualistic plan made for you or the person you love to ensure you get the appropriate care.
Similarly, feeling low sometimes is entirely normal. But when you start to experience an overwhelming sense of dread or sadness and it continues for a substantial length of time, you may or may not be diagnosed with depression. It’s important to remember that there are also different types of depression including Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Postnatal Depression (PND), and Dysthymia (which is also known as chronic depression).
Schizophrenia is a complicated mental health condition that has a lot of stigma and misconceptions in society. It usually develops over time but can include feeling disconnected from emotion, wanting to avoid people, experiencing hallucinations or hearing voices, and disorganized thinking and speech.
Bipolar is a mood disorder that is also misunderstood. It usually manifests in ways that impact a person’s emotions and ability to function. They may experience manic episodes where they feel invincible and elated and then experience depressive episodes, where they feel low and worthless, sometimes people with Bipolar also experience psychotic symptoms during these episodes and they can be mild or severe.
OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder is diagnosed based on two behaviors, obsessions and compulsions. People with OCD can have unwelcome thoughts, urges or doubts, or images repeatedly occurring in their mind, and this affects their behavior and leads to conclusions such as checking a locked door continuously, switching on a light switch a certain number of times, or repeating a phrase to alleviate anxiety.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and get help for yourself or your loved one if you suspect a mental health condition. There is so much help, support, and treatments out there to help any person who is suffering from a mental illness. It’s time to remove the stigma and talk about our worries, struggles, and the obstacles that many of us face. We are all human and we all deserve to live the best we can, and the first step forward is accepting that help is needed.