Mental health can be defined as the state of well-being, both emotionally and psychologically, that determines our thoughts, feelings, and actions in daily life.
When mental health has been impacted negatively, mental illness can develop. Mild or severe mental illness depends on the level of trauma associated with the condition, the coping mechanisms learned, the resources available, and the support systems present.
Types of mental illness include depression and anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), insomnia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other disorders that impact mood and behavior.
The prevalence of mental health problems in adolescents, teens, and adults represents a substantial portion of the population and can be attributed to several causes and risk factors.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI), 21% of US adults experienced some level of mental illness in 2020, which is a ratio of 1 in 5 individuals. The leading mental health condition in the population is anxiety disorders, with depressive disorders following. As for the US youth, NAMI suggests a prevalence of 1 in 6 between the ages of six and 17 suffer from some level of mental illness each year.
Mental health is of major importance in all aspects of life and deserves critical attention. With several types of mental health conditions and varying levels of severity, it’s imperative to do all that you can to remain mentally healthy. If one is suffering from mental health issues, they should seek help immediately, whether it’s reaching out to family and friends for support, calling a mental health helpline, talking with a therapist, or consulting with a physician.
Common Causes & Risk Factors of Mental Illness
Many causes and risk factors are associated with mental health conditions, with symptoms and severity levels differing from person to person. Individuals can suffer from mental illness or develop some level of mental health problem due to genetic predisposition, life traumas, or biological discrepancies of brain chemistry. Most cases of mental illness can be managed and treated.
If you’re concerned that you or someone you know are suffering from mental illness or have risk factors for mental illness, it’s important to seek help immediately.
The Following are Common Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness:
- Feeling Sad, Lethargic, or Numb
- Withdrawal and Detachment from Daily Life
- Trouble Sleeping
- Lack of Appetite or Change in Eating Habits
- Racing Thoughts
- Inability to Concentrate
- Mood Swings, Both High and Low
- Decrease in Libido and Energy Levels
- Suicidal Thoughts or Thoughts of Escapism
- Extreme Emotional Fluctuations
The symptoms of mental illness can range from mild to extremely severe and debilitating. In some severe cases, the development of schizophrenia or major depression can occur. As mentioned, any of these conditions require immediate help from a health professional. In the US, call 1-800-273-8255 if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts.
Mental Health Treatment And Evaluation
The diagnosis of a mental health condition can often be fairly straightforward. An experienced mental health professional who utilizes standard evaluation and history-taking skills will usually arrive at a diagnosis promptly. However, there will be more than one diagnosis in some cases, and some complexity of the individual’s condition can make the diagnosis a little more challenging.
Several methods are available to professionals to assist in the diagnosis. These methods include a physical exam, lab tests and blood work, and psychiatric and psychological evaluations.
During a typical mental assessment or psychiatric evaluation, questions will be asked regarding mental and physical health, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and will likely include a cognitive evaluation that tests an individual’s focus, reasoning, and understanding.
By having a better understanding of the patient’s current health standing, screening for organ dysfunction, and having open communication regarding symptoms, thoughts, and feelings, a health care professional will have all the tools they need to identify the root problem.
The Following are the Most Common and Effective Treatments for Mental Health Problems:
- Lifestyle Interventions
- Psychiatric Health Medication (Antidepressants, Anti-Anxiety, Antipsychotics, Mood-Stabilizers)
- Psychosocial Therapy
- Brain Stimulation Therapy
- Complimentary Therapies
- Substance Abuse Care
Depending on the type and severity level of mental illness, a comprehensive combination of outlined therapies is likely most effective. With the use of a multidisciplinarian approach of clinicians, psychiatrists and psychologists, doctors, and mental health clinicians, individuals can receive excellent treatment for any mental health condition.
The Importance of Optimizing Your Mental Health
It’s clear that mental and physical health are both important drivers for overall well-being. If someone has a mental health condition, the likelihood of the development of secondary health issues and concerns is highly probable. For this reason, the diagnosis and treatment of mental health become critical.
Depression, for example, can lead to behavior that increases the risk of a multitude of physical illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and even diabetes. Conversely, physical illness can also be a risk factor for many mental illnesses. By prioritizing and focusing on overall health and well-being, these problems can likely be mitigated, if not avoided entirely.
Mental health is a prevalent issue that requires attention. If you or someone you know has a possible mental condition, it is imperative to seek immediate help. Whether it’s talking to family and friends, sitting down with a therapist, or consulting with a medical professional, mental illness can be treated and managed in most cases.
Individuals who don’t know where to begin or lack support can contact a primary care provider or seek urgent or emergent care at many facilities. Also, keep in mind the US suicide helpline at 1-800-273-8255, which can be life-saving for many hurting individuals.