Understanding and Treating Psychological Illness

psychological illness

A psychological disorder affects your thoughts, feelings, mood and behavior. It can also interfere with your ability to participate in daily activities, such as work, school, social activities and caring for yourself and your family.

Psychologists focus on understanding and treating mental disorders. A major goal of the field is developing better ways to diagnose and treat mental illness, so that more people can recover.

Mental health problems can occur in any age, income, race and culture. They can be mild, moderate or severe and can impair your ability to participate in life. Most of them are treatable, and advances in medicine and therapy have made it possible to improve many disorders, so that they no longer interfere with the quality of your life or your ability to function.

A mental health problem can be difficult to recognize, even for a trained professional. It can be hard to know when a mood or behavior becomes a concern, or when it’s time to get help. Depression, for example, is a common mental disorder that can be very serious. It can cause a deep sadness, lasting hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness that interfere with your ability to function. It can also trigger suicide thoughts or make you feel like you don’t want to live anymore. A depressive episode is a medical condition and should not be ignored, no matter how long it lasts.

Psychological disorders can include a variety of conditions that cause you to be more or less detached from reality, such as hallucinations and disorganized thinking. They can also include conditions that cause alternating periods of high activity and energy, such as bipolar disorder or mania. They can also include personality disorders, such as borderline or narcissistic personality disorder.

In some cases, your mental illness may be so severe that you need treatment in a psychiatric hospital. This is usually recommended when you can’t care for yourself, or when you are at risk of harming yourself or someone else. You’ll get a personalized treatment plan that may involve psychotherapy (one-on-one counseling with a psychologist) and medications. You might also try lifestyle changes, such as exercise, or brain-stimulation treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and vagus nerve stimulation. Medication doesn’t cure mental illnesses, but it can help manage symptoms. Psychotherapy paired with medication is the most effective treatment. The good news is that there are many different treatment options, and most people who seek help find recovery, including meaningful roles in their family, workplaces and communities. It is important to remember that having a mental illness doesn’t mean you or your family did anything wrong and that recovery is possible, especially when you receive early treatment and play an active role in your own care.