A psychological illness is a medical condition that involves abnormal feelings and thoughts that can cause problems with how you behave or think. It can also affect the way you interact with others and the quality of your daily life. It is a problem that needs professional treatment, including psychotherapy and medication. Effective treatment is available for many mental illnesses and can help you live a full and productive life.
It can be hard to know when a mood or behavior is serious enough to qualify as a mental health concern. If you feel that your mood or behavior is getting in the way of your work, family or social life, it is important to seek help. Your family and friends can often be helpful in recognizing when you are having trouble, and they may encourage you to see a doctor or therapist.
There are different kinds of mental disorders, and the symptoms vary from person to person. Some of the most common include depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder (also called manic depression). Having a chronic or severe mental illness can make it hard to carry out everyday tasks, such as going to work or school, keeping up with housework, eating well and having healthy relationships. It can also affect the way you take care of yourself and your body, making it harder to stay healthy and get exercise, rest, sleep and eat well.
Some mental illnesses are associated with certain events or experiences, such as childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences, or physical or sexual assault. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops after exposure to a traumatic event or events and is characterized by re-experiencing the traumatic event or events in the present (flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive memories) and avoidance of activities, situations and people that remind you of the traumatic experience.
Other mental disorders have a biological cause, such as brain chemicals that are out of balance. They can be triggered by life events or genetic factors. Schizophrenia is an example of a biologically based psychological disorder, and its symptoms can include hallucinations and delusions.
Psychotherapy — talking with a trained healthcare provider or counselor — can help you learn how to manage your symptoms and improve the way you think and behave. It can be done in one-to-one therapy sessions or group settings, and includes talking therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy.
Medication can help you to feel better by changing the chemicals in your brain. But it is important to take it exactly as your healthcare provider directs. If you stop taking your medication, your feelings and symptoms may return. If you are taking antidepressants or other types of medication, it is very important to continue with your treatment plan. This can include regular visits to your primary care physician and psychotherapy. Some people need to be hospitalized in a psychiatric facility, especially if they are very ill or at risk of hurting themselves or others.