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Mental Illness: Everything You Need To Know

Mental Illness

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is not something that happens to people. It’s an illness that affects people. It’s a medical condition, like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease.

Mental health problems include many conditions that affect someone’s mood, thinking, ability to function and relationships with others. The most common mental illnesses are anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, schizophrenia, and substance abuse.

Anxiety is the feeling of worry and uneasiness. People with anxiety disorders may have physical symptoms such as chest pain, a racing heart, trembling, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness, headache, diarrhea, and muscle aches. Someone who has panic attacks might feel as if she or he is dying, going crazy, or losing control of her or his bodily functions.

Depression is a serious mood disorder that makes you feel sad, hopeless, guilty, or worthless. You might also feel irritable, have trouble sleeping, eat too much or too little, have headaches, or have trouble concentrating. If you’re depressed, you might have thoughts like “I’m a bad person,” or “No one will ever love me.”

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder with two distinct periods of mania (a period of extreme happiness and energy) and depression. The manic phase can last for days or weeks, but the depression may last months or years. A person with bipolar disorder may experience psychotic symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, or paranoia.

OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes repetitive behaviors or thoughts that are difficult to control, like repeating prayers or counting. Someone with OCD might have thoughts like “What if I did this? What if I did that?” She or he might wash his or her hands over and over again, or check things over and over again.

PTSD is a condition that happens after a frightening event. People with PTSD feel like they’re reliving the event in their bodies. They may be afraid of certain sounds, or they may have nightmares about the event.

Eating disorders are medical problems in which a person eats too much or not enough, or use unhealthy methods to try to control weight. Someone with anorexia nervosa (AN) might eat only a few small meals a day, or she or he may binge on food, lose weight rapidly, and then obsessively weigh her or himself. Bulimia nervosa (BN) is an eating disorder in which someone feels guilty about overeating and then purges by vomiting, taking laxatives, using diet pills, or doing extreme exercise.

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that causes people to hear, see, or feel things that aren’t really there. It makes it hard to function normally in everyday life.

Substance abuse is when a person uses illegal or dangerous drugs to get high or get relief from depression, anxiety, or stress. Substance abuse can cause changes in the brain that make it difficult to stop using the substance.

How can you help to tackle the mental illness crisis?

Mental health conditions affect one in five people in the nation. They are the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of years lost to disability.

Mental illness is preventable. If someone has symptoms of anxiety or depression, he or she needs to be seen by a doctor right away. If someone with a mental illness is suicidal, he or she needs immediate professional help.

The Healing Minds is a psychiatry & de-addiction clinic that helps people with mental illness and their families. Healing Minds provides confidential, 24-hour support, information, and advocacy for individuals and families coping with mental illness and their loved ones.