Mental illness or mental health disorders refers to a range of mental and behavioral health disorders. These conditions affect a person’s mood, thinking, and behavior. Examples of mental and behavioral health disorders include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and eating disorders.
Many people have moments of depression or anxiety. But most of the time there isn’t a reason for concern. If the signs and symptoms of mental illness continue, there could be a reason for concern.
Mental and behavioral health disorders can cause issues in daily life. They can interfere with work, school, and relationships. But in most cases, the symptoms of mental illness can be managed with psychotherapy and medication.
The signs and symptoms of mental illness vary depending on a few factors. The factors include the type of disorder, circumstances for the disorder, and other genetic and environmental factors.
Symptoms of mental illness can also appear as physical problems. These problems can include body aches and pains, stomach pain, and headaches.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) lists almost 300 different disorders. DSM-5 helps mental health professionals in diagnosing mental and behavioral health disorders. The following are common disorders affecting people in the United States.
Many people feel sad or are in a lousy mood occasionally. But mood disorders are different. They affect a person’s emotional state daily. Almost one in ten adults over 18 have a mood disorder.
Mood disorders can increase a person’s risk of suicide, heart disease, and diabetes. But with treatment, most people can lead happy and productive lives. Treatment can include psychotherapy, medication, or both.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) or major depression is a persistent feeling of sadness. A person with MDD loses interest in friends, family, and fun activities. Those with MDD experience constant negative emotions. Major depression is a common mental disorder; a lot is known about treating it. A combination of therapy and medication helps treat MDD.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression affected by the changes in seasons. Most often, SAD begins in the fall and continues through the winter. People with SAD feel moody and suffer from low energy. Less commonly, SAD starts in the spring and ends in the summer. Treatment for SAD can include light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication.
Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, causes extreme mood swings. The mood swings can include extreme lows (depression) and extreme highs (mania). People can feel hopeless and lose interest in fun activities, or they feel euphoric and full of energy.
Mood swings may happen a few times a year or less. Most people may have some emotional symptoms between episodes. Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition, but therapy and medication can manage mood swings and psychological symptoms.
Anxiety disorders interfere with daily activities, are hard to control, and are more intense than the situation. Anxiety can cause a person to avoid situations or places out of fear of another anxiety attack. Treatment can be challenging. The worry and fear can make it hard to develop trust. But with medication and psychotherapy, a person can live a “normal” life.
Generalized anxiety disorder can develop in childhood and interferes with daily life. Signs can include excessive and constant worry and avoidant behavior. Making lifestyle changes, learning relaxation techniques, therapy, and medication are treatments that can help with a generalized anxiety disorder.
A panic attack is an episode of intense fear that happens suddenly. These attacks can trigger severe physical reactions sometimes for no reason. People may feel like they are having a heart attack or even dying. Psychotherapy and medication can help manage the symptoms of panic disorder.
Phobia-related disorders are an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of objects or situations. These objects and situations are not dangerous but cause anxiety and avoidance. The symptoms of these disorders are long-lasting, cause physical and psychological reactions. The symptoms can affect a person’s ability to function at school and work or in social environments.
Those with personality disorders do not view or relate to people or situations in a healthy manner. In most cases, a person doesn’t realize they have a personality disorder. Their thoughts and actions are rational to them and can get mad if told differently.
Personality disorder types are part of three clusters. Each cluster has similar characteristics and symptoms. Many people can also have symptoms of multiple personality disorders. And, a person doesn’t need to have all the signs of being diagnosed.
People with Cluster A personality disorders have odd, eccentric thinking and behaviors. The symptoms and characteristics of typical Cluster A personality disorders are as follows.
A person with Cluster B personality disorders are dramatic, overly emotional, and have unpredictable thinking or behavior. The symptoms and characteristics of common Cluster B personality disorders are as follows.
A person with Cluster C personality disorders is anxious and has fearful thoughts and behaviors. The symptoms and characteristics of common Cluster C personality disorders are as follows.
The two main symptoms of psychotic disorders are delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are false beliefs. And hallucinations are hearing, seeing, and feeling things that are not there. Hospitalization may be necessary if a person becomes a danger to themselves or others.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental health disorder that causes a person to interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia causes a range of issues with thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thoughts and speech. Schizophrenia is a chronic illness that requires medication and therapy to manage the symptoms.
Most eating disorders cause people to focus on their weight, body shape, and food. Eating disorders lead to dangerous eating habits and inappropriate nutrition. Eating disorders can cause harm to the bones, the digestive system, and the heart. Psychotherapy is beneficial in building healthy eating habits and reversing some of the damage done to the body.
Anorexia is a life-threatening condition characterized by low body weight. People with anorexia fear gaining weight and a distorted view of their weight and shape. The extreme efforts to stay thin include excessive exercising, vomiting after eating, and using laxatives.
Binge eating disorders cause people to overeat (binge) and feel out of control with their eating. People may eat more than they intended, even when they are not hungry. Binging can cause feelings of guilt and shame over the amount of food consumed.
Binge eating disorders are different than other eating disorders because a person doesn’t try to rid their body of the calories. Embarrassment can cause a person to eat alone to hide their binging.
Bulimia is a dangerous eating disorder causing episodes of binging and purging. Many people with bulimia will not eat all-day, which produces more binge eating and purging in the evening. Bulimia causes people to eat a lot in a short amount of time and then rid the body of the food by vomiting.
People with bulimia judge themselves harshly and are preoccupied with their weight and body shape. Because of shame and guilt, they may exercise excessively or use laxatives to rid the body of calories.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder triggered by a traumatic event. The symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. Most people who experience or witness a traumatic event can get passed it with time and self-care. But for others, the symptoms get worse, can last for years, and interfere with daily life. Medication and psychotherapy can help manage the symptoms of PTSD.
Mental and behavioral health disorders and substance use disorder (SUD) sometimes occur together or be co-occurring. Co-occurrence is because:
A person with mental and behavioral disorders, as well as SUD, must treat both diseases. Treatment may include rehabilitation, medication, support groups, and psychotherapy.
Members take a complete mental and physical evaluation to determine therapy options and if they need medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Some people may benefit from an inpatient treatment program, while others benefit from outpatient treatment. Whichever treatment route a person takes, the following therapy options are available.
Psychotherapy or individual therapy helps improve a person’s emotional and behavioral health. The goals of individual therapy include:
Psychotherapy can include a variety of behavioral therapies. These therapies include the following.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy, and it helps members become aware of negative thoughts. And people learn to change their negative views while improving their negative behaviors. CBT can help treat depression, PTSD, and eating disorders.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of CBT. DBT teaches members behavioral skills. The skills learned in DBT help manage stress, emotions, and improve personal relationships.
Group therapy is an important aspect of all treatment programs. Group therapy helps members in a variety of ways, including:
Members who participate in support groups find peer support beneficial to recovery. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and 12-step groups communicate with like-minded people.
Holistic and alternative treatments are not mainstream care. But, these treatments are quite beneficial for the treatment of mental and behavioral health disorders. There is a wide variety of holistic therapies, including the following.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment where a trained practitioner inserts thin needles into the skin at specific body points. The needles help the healing process. Acupuncture can be beneficial in treating depression and schizophrenia.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to improve health and wellbeing. Some essential oils help treat mental and emotional health disorders. Essential oils can be inhaled, massaged into the skin, or put in bathwater. Aromatherapy can help treat depression and anxiety.
A massage therapist uses their hands to massage away tension. Swedish massages use light strokes to relax muscles and relieve stress. In contrast, Shiatsu massage utilizes pressure points to balance a person’s energy.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation. It allows individuals to focus on the mind and body in the present moment. When members are aware and mindful of their thoughts and feelings, they can build better-coping skills to support recovery.