Everyone feels anxious or worried about things at times, but relatively few people develop a mental disorder.
So, what’s the difference?
Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking, or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are often also associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work, or family activities.
Many different types of conditions constitute a mental disorder. Still, fundamentally it is a behavior or mental patterning that can cause significant characteristics from abnormal thoughts, actions, perceptions, and day-to-day functions.
Mental health is the foundation for human emotions, our thinking, communication, learning, resilience, and our self-esteem.
Mental health is also key to our relationships, our personal and emotional well-being, and contributing to community or society.
Without proper mental health, we can feel extremely cut-off from others and may find functioning in society extremely difficult – this can lead to problems with finding or maintaining a job and/or a relationship.
Literally, dozens of mental disorders have been identified and defined.
A mental disorder can, amongst others, include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychoses, eating disorders, dementia, and developmental disorders, including autism.
The difficulties with living with a mental disorder continue to grow with our ever-changing world. They have significant impacts on health, social, human rights, and economic consequences across the globe.
A mental health disorder is an equal opportunity issue as it affects young and old, male and female, and individuals of every race, ethnic background, education level, and income level.
Mental health often affects people’s minds and understanding rather than their bodies – although there’s an enormous amount of overlap.
Facing up to it…
Because basically, it’s a brain issue and can’t be seen, someone experiencing a mental health disorder or crisis may not realize this.
Many individuals need help to appreciate they even need help and support with these mental disorder issues they are having difficulties with.
Lots of people who have a mental disorder don’t want to talk about it, and often partly through denial; there is something wrong with them or due to the stigma they believe is still attached to having a mental health issue. But having a mental disorder is nothing to be ashamed of!
A mental disorder is a medical condition, just like heart disease or diabetes. And mental health conditions are treatable. We are continually increasing our understanding of how the human brain works, and treatments are available to help people successfully manage mental health conditions.
The human brain is very good at becoming aware of things, but it’s a lot more difficult for this awareness to lead to changes in behavior.
The positive news is that most mental disorders can often be treated.
Mental disorders can take many forms. Some are mild and only interfere in limited ways with daily life, by affecting the individual with behaviors such as specific phobias (abnormal fears).
However, other mental health disorders are so severe that a person may need care in a hospital.
Depending on the signs and symptoms of the mental disorder depends in part on the illness. However, common symptoms include:
- feeling down for a period including feeling stressed and anxious
- extreme swings in mood – either ‘high’ or low
- withdrawing from family, friends, or usually enjoyed activities
- low energy, sluggish or problems sleeping
- often feeling angry, hostile, or violent
- feeling paranoid, hearing voices, or having hallucinations or delusions
- often thinking about death or suicide.
Determining which mental disorder determines treatment…
Mental disorder or mental illness is. Therefore, terms that refer to psychological patterns that occur in individuals, and they are usually associated with distress and disabilities that are seen as expected parts of the healthy development of society.
Mental disorders are more common than people think, with over a third of people worldwide reporting sufficient criteria at some point in their life.
It’s sometimes difficult to determine which mental illness may be causing your symptoms.
But it’s generally agreed that taking the time and effort to get an accurate diagnosis will help determine the appropriate treatment.
The more information you and the doctors have, the more you will be prepared to work with your mental health professional in understanding what your symptoms may represent and how you can get the right help and support.
Mental disorders are currently defined in terms of diagnostic and statistical manual diagnoses – patients either meet the criteria, or they don’t. Does this then determine they should be treated or not?
The diagnosis of which mental disorder you have decides the treatment you need – the severity of your mental disorder and what treatments work best for you. In many cases, a combination of treatments is suitable.
If you have a mild mental illness with well-controlled symptoms, treatment may be straightforward and just from a doctor.
However, very often, a team approach is appropriate to make sure all your psychiatric, medical, and social needs are met. This is especially important for severe mental illnesses, which include mental disorders such as schizophrenia.
Medication again depends on the type and severity of your mental disorder.
It’s important to remember that you won’t ever be cured, but you can ‘manage’ your condition with medication and psychotherapy, which can significantly help to improve your circumstances.
The most common medicines prescribed for mental disorders include anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, mood-stabilizing medication, and anti-psychotic medications.
Psychotherapy, which is also known as talk therapy, involves talking about your mental disorder and its related issues with a medical professional.
This includes learning about your condition and the ways in which you behave concerning your moods, feelings, thoughts, and actual behavior – you should learn to cope and stress management skills to help you function independently.
This talk therapy is usually over a few months and can be one-on-one or in groups, including with family members.
Occasionally, people suffering from mental disorders need hospitalization.
Whatever mental disorder you may suffer from, it is always essential that you seek help with it – you are not alone, literally millions of people across the world experience mental health issues – but how you deal with it, is totally up to you…
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