Psychological illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feelings, mood and outlook on life. It can also impact how a person interacts with others, whether in family and marital relationships, employment or recreational activities. Mental illness can also interfere with daily living such as eating, sleeping, and managing material affairs.
A person may be diagnosed with a psychological disorder if their thoughts, feelings and behaviors are significantly different from those of most other people in the same situation or culture. The disturbances are viewed as socially unacceptable, meaning that they do not reflect expected or culturally approved responses to normal events or situations that often happen in life. The disturbances cause distress, impairment and difficulty functioning.
There are many different kinds of treatments for mental illness. These include talking treatments and psychiatric medication. These are generally offered through the NHS. A mental health professional will develop a treatment plan to meet an individual’s needs.
In the 1800s, US reformer Dorothea Dix saw mentally ill patients being held in jails alongside criminals without beds or heat. She lobbied for the creation of 32 state hospitals to improve care and treatment.
The psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin distinguishes mental disorders as distinct from one another. He explains that certain mental illnesses are caused by abnormal interpretations of reality, while others are due to biological factors.
People with a mental illness can be affected by their genes, environment and lifestyle. Some conditions, such as bipolar disorder, are caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Other disorders, such as major depressive disorder or schizophrenia, are thought to be partly genetic. Certain environmental factors, such as long-term stress and exposure to harmful substances can trigger mental illness.
Symptoms of a mental illness can vary from person to person, but they often involve sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, pessimism, irritability, low energy and a lack of interest in friends or hobbies. Symptoms can be so severe that they impair a person’s ability to work, socialize and sleep. A mental illness can cause serious problems in family and marital relationships, sexual activity and the management of personal and business affairs.
Most of the time, psychological treatment can help someone overcome mental health problems and learn to live with them. Talking treatments can include individual therapy sessions with a trained professional or group therapy. Examples of talking treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Psychiatrists, psychologists and some primary care physicians provide psychotherapy. Medication is an important part of treating a mental illness. Examples of medications include antidepressants, antipsychotics and anxiolytic drugs. Medication cannot cure mental illness, but it can help to manage symptoms and allow people to return to their usual lives.