Psychological illness is a medical condition that can affect your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. A mental health problem can make it hard to think clearly, concentrate and remember things, or feel like you are in control of your life. This can have a negative impact on your work, social life and relationships. There are different ways to get treatment and support for your psychological disorder.
The way we think about mental illness has changed over the years. In the past, people who had a mental disorder were seen as having “something wrong with them” or being crazy. This view is now known as stigma. Stigma makes it harder to get the help you need, as it can stop you talking about your problems or seeking treatment. It can also lead to a downward spiral in your wellbeing, with lowered self-esteem and hopelessness, and increased isolation and depression. It can even cause you to behave in ways that are harmful to yourself or others.
Modern science has shown that many psychological disorders are biologically based. For example, scientists have found that certain patterns of genes increase your risk of developing some mental health problems, such as schizophrenia. However, it is still important to note that the environment in which you grow up also influences your mental health. This includes factors such as your early experiences, how much stress you are exposed to and how well supported you are by the people around you (Gejman & Sanders, 2010).
In the 19th century, a movement to improve the care of people with psychological disorder started. This included developing better standardized methods of diagnosis and classification. In particular, Emil Kraepelin developed a system of mental illness diagnosis that focused on a group of symptoms that are related and suggests an underlying physiological cause. The development of this system led to changes in the way people were treated in asylums. This included the move away from harsh and cruel practices and towards a more moral approach to treatment.
A diagnosis of a mental illness is made by a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist, who will look at your symptoms and decide which mental health condition they believe you have. They will use the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to guide them. This is the standard reference that mental health professionals and insurance companies use to diagnose disorders and to determine which treatments are right for you.
There are a number of different types of psychological treatment available, including medication and talking therapies. These include cognitive behaviour therapy, which looks at how your thinking and actions can get stuck in unhelpful patterns. It can also help to address difficult relationships and improve your quality of life. Some people with severe mental illness may need to stay in a psychiatric hospital, either because their symptoms are so serious or they are at risk of hurting themselves or others.
After they leave a hospital, most people with mental illness are transferred to local mental health homes or supported housing. These can offer counseling, education and activities to help you manage your mental illness, along with group support and other health care. Some people with severe mental illnesses may require electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a powerful but safe treatment used to treat some severe depression, mania and catatonia.