Psychological Illness

Psychological illness is a diagnosis given to people who have symptoms that affect the way they think, feel and behave. These symptoms can cause significant distress and dysfunction in daily functioning. They can also be dangerous to the individual or others. Often, these disorders can be treated with medications and psychotherapy.

The disorder may be mild, moderate or severe and can last a short time or a lifetime. It also may be recurrent or chronic. The underlying cause can be biological, environmental or psychological.

Mental disorders are diagnosed based on observations, a physical exam and lab tests. Doctors use a standard tool like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to determine whether or not someone has a mental health condition. In addition, they may refer a person to a psychologist or psychiatrist for further evaluation.

Some of the most common disorders include anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. In addition, there are many subtypes of these conditions. A psychiatrist can help people find a treatment that works best for them.

A person who has a mental illness may have difficulty at home, school or work. Some may be unable to form relationships, while others are withdrawn or aggressive. They might struggle with memory and attention. In some cases, a mental health condition can cause a person to become suicidal.

Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is a type of behavioral treatment that can help treat many different types of mental disorders. In psychotherapy, a therapist creates an environment in which the client feels comfortable and accepted. This allows the client to discuss feelings, behaviors and beliefs that contribute to their disorder.

Talk therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies. Other treatments for psychological disorders include antidepressants, anxiolytics and antipsychotics. These drugs are used to change the way a person’s brain works to reduce or eliminate their symptoms.

For some people, medication is not enough. In these cases, a person may benefit from psychotherapy or complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM. CAM includes practices such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and herbal remedies.

Psychiatric care has come a long way since the days when psychiatry was criticized by writers such as Thomas Szasz and R. D. Laing. The deinstitutionalization of psychiatric hospitals began in the 1970s and a consumer/survivor movement developed. Advances in neuroscience, genetics and psychology led to new research agendas. New psychotherapies and medications emerged, including SSRI-type antidepressants and later anxiolytics and antipsychotics.

Today, a diagnosis of psychological illness is no longer seen as a sign of weakness or insanity. Instead, it is viewed as an important step in getting the help that a person needs to recover from the disorder. For some, this may mean moving into a specialized residential facility or joining a support group. In other cases, hospitalization may be necessary so that a person can be closely monitored and diagnosed by a doctor or trained professional nurse. This may be especially helpful in cases of crisis or when a person is unable to manage his or her own care.