Mental illness is a generic term used to describe more than 200 classified forms of psychiatric disorders. For too long, mental illness did not receive the same dedicated attention that other medical issues received. And, when mental illness was addressed, unfortunately, a stigma was often attached. The lack of understanding in the medical community and society caused many people to suffer in silence.
The causes of mental illness can be as varied as the illnesses themselves. Some people deal with only one diagnosis, while many others struggle with co-existing illnesses. The pain and heartbreak of mental illness can make life miserable, for the sufferer and his or her family and other close loved ones.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness
Immediate family members and close friends are usually the first to notice symptoms of a mental health issue. If you suspect a loved one is struggling with the symptoms of mental illness, it’s never too early to seek help. Furthermore, do not hesitate to call 911 if you or someone you love is experiencing a serious mental health crisis.
Here are some general signs of mental illness to look out for:
- Thoughts of suicide or threats to harm himself/herself or others
- Confused thinking
- Strong feelings of anger
- Excessive anxieties and fears
- Numerous unexplained physical ailments
- Sudden social withdrawal
- Inability to cope with daily issues and activities
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Substance use
Be mindful that most signs of mental illness come on suddenly and close together. Make sure you take the time to observe and ask questions about the symptoms. When did you first notice the symptoms? Is the person taking any new medications? Feeling sick? Are they going through a major life change or experiencing a traumatic event? Examining the answers will give you, and possibly a health care provider, valuable insights into your loved one’s personal condition and circumstances.
Let’s look at two of the most common mental health issues that we face today: anxiety and depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 16.1 million adults (age 18 and older) in the United States suffered a major depressive episode in 2015.
Major depressive events span two weeks or longer, with individuals experiencing sadness or loss of interest in activities that normally motivate them. Additionally, the individuals undergo a change in the way that they normally operate, such as oversleeping or insomnia, overeating or loss of appetite, increased fatigue and decreased focus, and low self-perception.
It’s not at all unusual for individuals diagnosed with depression to also be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. In fact, roughly 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder within a given year, and many of them also are afflicted by a co-occurring disorder or physical illness.
What Is Depression?
Depression (also known as major depressive disorder) is probably the most commonly recognized mental illness in America. The symptoms, however, can be difficult to pin down. Sadness and “feeling blue” can strike anyone. But when temporary sadness morphs into a regular state of being that lasts longer than two weeks, or when feelings of despair or hopelessness take root, don’t wait. Seek help.
The onset of depression can be related to an illness somebody is already struggling with, such as cancer or a chronic pain disorder. It can even be a symptom of conditions such as vitamin deficiency or a brain tumor.
The symptoms of depression run the gamut from mild to debilitating. Difficulty concentrating, sleeping too much, and loss of interest in previously beloved activities are significant indicators that you or someone you love is struggling.
What Is Anxiety?
All anxiety disorders have different, yet similar symptoms. For example, social anxiety disorder includes symptoms that can mimic shyness or extreme introversion. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 15 million adults, or 6.8 percent of the U.S. population, suffer from social anxiety disorder.
Another example is panic disorder. Those with this disorder often seek emergency medical attention because they are experiencing strong physical symptoms that feel like a heart attack, only to discover it’s a panic attack. Other common symptoms of anxiety issues include fatigue, brain fog and difficulty interacting in social situations.
We All Experience Anxiety
Sometimes we are stressed and nervous about world events, or personal issues such as our health or job security. However, feeling anxious as a daily occurrence would need to be addressed by a medical professional.
Seek help from your primary care physician and a mental health professional, as the symptoms of anxiety disorder can sometimes point to a physical issue. The symptoms of anxiety can also occur as part of other mental health issues. Click below to learn more about the different forms of anxiety, their symptoms and treatment options.
Receive the Mental Health Help You Need
If you suspect you or a loved one is suffering from anxiety, depression or any other mental illness, it’s critical to seek help. Even though mental illness has had an unfair and harmful stigma attached to it for many years, the medical community and general public are beginning to show greater compassion toward, and understanding of, those with these disorders.
Acceptance begins with loving ourselves enough to understand that as many as 1 in 3 people we know are struggling with the same issues. Bringing them to light through honest conversations with loved ones and professionals is the first step to regaining wholeness and peace of mind.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment in Maryland
Maryland Recovery Center is vigilant about diagnosing and treating mental health disorders when they play a role in substance abuse, as they often do. Based in Bel Air, Maryland, our treatment gets to the root causes of addiction, including any form of mental illness that may be in the mix.
With our expert guidance and holistic services, patients come out of our program in a good place to achieve long-term liberation from the substance abuse and mental health issues that once weighed them down. To learn more about how we accommodate dual diagnosis patients, including which co-occurring disorders we treat, click on the button below.