Mental Illness 101

On Monday, I blogged about mental health.

On Tuesday, I blogged about my own personal way of prioritizing my mental health.

Today, I will talk about “mental illness.”

Before I started working in psychiatry, I confused mental illness and mental health. I discovered that although we ALL have mental health, we do not all have a mental illness.
Mental illness is a condition that has a drastic impact on how someone thinks, feels and behaves.

Photo by Moritz Bu00f6ing on Pexels.com

Many mental illnesses are caused by what is called a “chemical imbalance” in the brain. I learned that our brain has neurons that communicate to one another. These also have different levels of fluid. When the levels are off balanced, it impacts how we think, feel and behave. This is why a lot of individuals who have mental illness need medication.

Other factors that can influence a person developing a mental illness include family history, trauma, brain injury, substance use or abuse, etc.

Some symptoms of mental illness include: hearing and seeing things, talking to self, confusion, swift mood changes, irritability, not attending to personal hygiene, pacing and isolating self in room or away from other people.

Some commonly diagnosed mental illnesses include: Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder.
Another interesting thing about mental illness is that the individual who suffers with mental illness is often unaware. Those who are in relationship with the individual often seen characteristics about the person that are of concern. As a result of this, sometimes it can be challenging to assist the individual in getting the help that they need.

Word on the street is that having a mental illness means a person is lazy, intelligent or “slow” but that is not true. Many individuals who are living with a mental illness are very intelligent.

There are many people who choose to thrive in spite of having their mental illness. For many, receiving a diagnosis of a mental illness brings a sense of relief and clarity.

In order for an individual to manage their mental illness, they might be required to take medication and have support in the form of therapy or a support group.

If you think that you might have a mental illness, you might find it helpful to see a psychiatrist or a psychiatric nurse practitioner. You can locate a CRNP or a psychiatrist by going to Psychology Today to locate one.

If you or someone you care struggles with mental illness, you can go to this website to get some helpful information: NAMI.

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