The term ‘psychological illness’ is used to describe a range of symptoms, feelings and behaviours that may affect an individual’s normal functioning. There are a number of effective treatments that can help people with mental disorders, and the condition is nothing to be ashamed of. Many of these treatments include a combination of therapies, support groups and medication.
People with psychological conditions can get better, and most recover completely. The causes of these illnesses are not fully understood, but they seem to be linked to the way the brain works. A number of different factors, including genetics and environment, can influence an individual’s vulnerability to developing a mental disorder. A person’s family, lifestyle and culture can also protect against or promote a mental illness.
In the past, some of these disorders were not well understood, and the treatment methods were often harsh or unsuitable. As a result, there is still some social stigma surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems. Nevertheless, it is essential to seek a medical diagnosis because it can help identify treatment options. A healthcare professional will use a standard diagnostic tool, such as the DSM-5, to determine whether an individual’s symptoms meet the criteria for a specific disorder.
Symptoms that indicate a possible mental illness include difficulty thinking clearly, changes in emotions and behaviour and unusual experiences. There are a wide variety of mental disorders, and each one is slightly different from the others. Anxiety disorders, for example, are characterised by feelings of anxiety that interfere with daily life. These may take the form of panic attacks, obsessive thoughts or phobias. People with psychotic disorders can experience delusions, hallucinations or disorganised thinking. Schizophrenia is a particularly severe mental illness and has been linked to a lower life expectancy.
Depression and mania are other common mood disorders. People with a depression or mania can have trouble coping with everyday activities and will often isolate themselves. Depression can cause suicidal thoughts and feelings, while mania is associated with destructive behaviours such as self-harm or alcoholism.
Some treatments for mental illness involve talking therapies, which are based on the relationship between a patient and therapist. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectic behavior therapy and psychoanalysis. Other therapies include acupressure, meditation and relaxation and alternative medicine, which is usually referred to as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).
In some cases, people with a mental illness need to be hospitalised to receive care. This could be because their symptoms are extremely severe, or because they pose a danger to themselves or to others. In this setting, they can be closely monitored, accurately diagnosed and treated quickly when their symptoms deteriorate.
After being released from the psychiatric hospital, some people need further treatment to improve their quality of life. This can include rehabilitation, housing assistance, vocational counselling and job placement, and communication skills training. It is also important for people with mental health conditions to stay connected with their families and communities. Some individuals with psychological disorders find it helpful to join a support group, which allows them to share their experiences with peers who have similar issues.