Psychological illness is a serious mental health condition that may affect how you think, feel and behave. People who have mental illness often experience significant distress and impairment in their daily lives, and can have a negative impact on relationships with family and friends. Fortunately, with improved treatment options, many people recover and lead fulfilling lives.
Psychologists are the primary practitioners in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders (Kessler, Chiu, Demler, & Walters, 2005). The most common categories of mental illnesses include depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder, which make up approximately 30 percent of all diagnoses.
The first step in determining whether you have a psychological illness is to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Your doctor may also ask you to complete a medical exam and lab tests to check for any physical problems that could be causing your symptoms.
Your doctor will then talk to you about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. These are all important parts of your diagnosis and may be used to help determine your treatment plan.
Some mental disorders are based on genetics, while others develop from exposure to certain situations or environments in childhood. This is why it is important to speak with your doctor about any family history of mental disorders, such as autism or schizophrenia.
Disturbances in inner experiences or behaviors are considered to be disordered if they reflect some kind of dysfunction, if they cause you significant distress, and if they do not fit with how people usually react to similar situations.
These disturbances must also interfere with one’s ability to function in social and occupational activities or lead to disability. Examples of disorders that fall into this category are panic disorder, phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
If you have a mental illness, it is important to get treatment as soon as possible. You can receive treatment in your doctor’s office or at a hospital.
A psychiatrist or other qualified professional can prescribe medicines that can help ease the symptoms of your mental illness. They can also prescribe counseling or therapy that can teach you coping skills and help you manage your symptoms.
You can also join a support group that can be helpful in gaining social connections and finding ways to deal with difficult times. You can find support groups online or in your community.
Another way to help cope with psychological illness is by engaging in activities that bring you joy and happiness. Some examples of activities that can help you cope with psychological illness are exercise, spending time with friends and family, volunteering, reading books or attending school.
Medications are an important part of treatment for most mental illnesses, and can include antidepressants and mood-stabilizing medications. These drugs help regulate your moods, decrease stress and increase energy levels. They also may help you to sleep more soundly and reduce symptoms such as insomnia.
Other types of treatment for psychological illnesses include acupuncture, yoga and meditation. You can also work with a dietician or nutritionist to improve your diet and increase your energy level. You may also be referred to a therapist for individual or family therapy.