A mental health problem that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves and can cause distress and impair functioning. These problems may interfere with a person’s relationships and ability to work and can lead to a worsening of the condition over time. There are many different treatments for psychological illnesses, including psychotherapy and medication. Treatments usually help reduce the symptoms of the disorder and improve a person’s quality of life.
Mental illness has been around for centuries. In the 16th and 17th centuries, madness was seen as a spiritual issue, or a sign of a moral flaw. But by the 18th century and into the Enlightenment, madness was starting to be seen as a medical issue. Asylum care became more humane, and a movement to promote mental health and recovery emerged. Research into genetics, biology and psychology helped develop new treatments and classification schemes. By the 1920s, psychologists were increasingly called upon to provide clinical services and diagnose mental disorders. New medications, such as antidepressants and benzodiazepines, were developed.
In order to be diagnosed with a psychological illness, the symptoms must be severe enough to be disruptive to the person’s life and require professional treatment. There are some disorders that are clearly defined, such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Others are less well-defined, such as anxiety and phobias. People can get these conditions through genes, brain chemistry or environmental factors.
Some disorders occur during early childhood, such as autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Others, such as schizoaffective disorder and adolescent conduct disorder occur during the teenage years. Still others, such as depression and mania are more likely to occur in adulthood.
A psychiatric illness that causes periods of intensely elevated mood, or mania, which can also include feelings of hopelessness and a general lack of energy. To be diagnosed with the disorder, a person must have five or more characteristic symptoms nearly every day for two weeks.
Symptoms of this condition include changes in thinking, feeling and behavior that are severe enough to disrupt a person’s life and require professional treatment. Medications used to treat bipolar disorder include antidepressants and lithium. These medications work to balance the chemicals in the brain that control mood and a person’s response to stress, depression and mania. Some people with this disorder may also benefit from psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. For some, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be helpful in treating certain symptoms of the disorder, such as severe depression, mania or catatonia. ECT involves delivering a brief electric shock to the brain, which may cause a temporary loss of consciousness and sometimes results in memory loss. It’s a controversial treatment that’s only available on an inpatient basis.