What is a Psychological Illness?

psychological illness

People who have a psychological illness may experience problems with their emotions, behavior, relationships and work. They often have trouble sleeping or eating, and may find it hard to concentrate. They may also have a lot of fear and worry, and they might not want to be around other people. They might feel very low or hopeless and might even think about suicide. They might have other health concerns, including addictions, and they might be at risk of being abused or hurt by others.

A psychological disorder is any inner state or disordered behavior that is not the result of normal life events or environmental circumstances and causes significant distress or impairment in a person’s daily functioning. It must last for a long time and be significantly different from a person’s previous state. There are several criteria that must be met in order to diagnose a mental illness, and the specifics of these conditions are explained in the Psychiatric Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Many people with a mental illness have some combination of symptoms, such as anxiety disorders and depression. There are other disorders that involve specific inner states or behaviors, such as schizoid personality disorder, which involves feeling detached from social connections and appearing cold and aloof; paranoid schizophrenia, which includes hallucinations; bipolar disorders, which include both mania and depressive episodes; schizotypal personality disorder, which features eccentricities in speech, behavior, appearance, and thought; and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is characterized by difficulty paying attention or concentrating.

Some mental illnesses are rooted in changes or imbalances in neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals that send messages within the brain. These changes can be caused by genes, trauma or stress, drugs or alcohol, and some diseases or infections that occurred in utero or during childhood.

Psychotherapy can help manage a mental illness. It can be done in a one-to-one setting with a healthcare provider or in group therapy with other patients. One type of psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps people change negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their illness.

It is important to get treatment for a mental illness because it can cause severe and lasting distress in your life, such as affecting how well you sleep or eat, how much energy you have, and how easily you interact with other people. You might also have trouble with your career and relationships, and it could lead to more serious problems such as drug abuse, eating disorders, or violence.