Psychological illness is a range of conditions that cause disturbances in the way people think, feel and behave. They may affect daily functioning, relationships, work and school and can have serious consequences for individuals and their families.
A psychological disorder is a condition that causes severe and persistent distress or impairment in important areas of life such as work, home and social relationships. It is a mental health condition that must be diagnosed by a medical professional and treated to improve quality of life and reduce the risk of harm to the individual and others.
Psychiatric disorders include anxiety, mood and thought disorders, psychiatric disorders that involve the brain (schizophrenia and related illnesses), and eating disorders.
Harmful dysfunction is an essential criterion for diagnosing psychological disorders. This must involve significant disturbances in thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are atypical or unusual. The behavior must be abnormal in that it is harmful to the person or other people, and the disruption must be of a nature that is judged to be abnormal by the standards of the culture.
The ‘harmful dysfunction’ definition is controversial, as it does not necessarily require that the disorder be debilitating or have negative consequences for others. Many people have thoughts, feelings or behavior that are atypical or unusual but would not be considered a problem in their own culture.
Depression is a common and treatable condition that can occur at any age, but it can be especially troublesome for children and adolescents. Symptoms of depression often include sadness, lack of energy, fatigue and sleeping too much or not enough.
Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that impairs the way a person sees and interacts with the world around them. People with schizophrenia might experience hallucinations and hear voices. This can be dangerous if they are not treated, and they may become disoriented or lose contact with reality.
Adjustment disorders are emotional responses to life changes that have occurred suddenly such as divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job or a move. They can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness and low self-esteem.
Other symptoms of adjustment disorders include problems with emotions, memory, thinking and behaviour. They can also occur in response to other conditions such as anxiety and bipolar disorder.
Paranoia is the irrational and persistent belief that other people are out to get you. This symptom is found in people with some personality disorders and schizophrenia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people change the ways they think and behave so that they can function better. It can also help with the management of symptoms like anxiety or depressed mood.
Medications can be used to manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for people with mental health conditions. They can be used alone or with talk therapy. Medications can also be used in conjunction with other treatments such as occupational therapy or support groups.
A good treatment plan is based on an individual’s needs and goals. It takes into account how severe the symptoms are, how they affect daily living, the risks and benefits of the available treatments and other factors.