Psychological illness involves disturbances in thoughts, feelings and behaviors that cause significant problems or distress in one’s life. Symptoms may also interfere with normal functioning, such as in school or work. Some people may be at risk of hurting themselves or others. Treatment varies, but includes psychotherapy and medicine. Many people have family and friends who help them deal with their condition.
Mental health is a crucial part of overall well-being. When people have psychological disorders, they need treatment to feel better and function normally in daily life. People often find that it helps to talk with a counselor or therapist who has special training in this area. Some people take medicines, such as antidepressants or antipsychotics. Others use psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy. Some people may need to stay in a psychiatric hospital, especially if they are at risk of harming themselves or others.
In the DSM and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), mental illnesses are categorized as conditions that are caused by biological, psychological or developmental dysfunctions. These problems can occur in children and adults. These categories include mood disorder, anxiety disorder and psychotic disorder, as well as disorders that affect the way a person thinks or behaves, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
To be diagnosed with a mental illness, a person must have a pattern of inner experiences and behaviors that is different from the norm for the person’s culture. It must be clear that the disturbances are not expected or culturally approved responses to certain events. For example, a normal response to the death of a close relative might be sadness and a wish to be left alone. The disturbances must be atypical and negative rather than typical and positive.
To be considered a mental disorder, the symptoms must have a harmful effect on a person’s life. This could be a loss of self-respect or the ability to interact with other people in a reasonable and effective manner. They must be a substantial hindrance to day-to-day living, as judged by the standards of that culture. For example, a person would have a mental disorder if they were so depressed that they could not get up in the morning to go to school or work.
Psychologists and psychiatrists study the causes of psychological disorders, as well as developing treatment. Research shows that some causes are biological, such as chemical imbalances in the brain. Other causes are social, including abuse, bullying, lack of family support and job stress. In some cases, mental disorders can be caused by environmental factors that are specific to particular cultures or societies. Some of these include poverty, poor housing or a history of violence. Psychotherapy, especially group and interpersonal therapies, is an important element of treatment for mental disorders. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has become a popular method for dealing with trauma. Some hypnotherapy and religious therapies are also useful in some circumstances.