Psychological illness is a condition that affects your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It can also affect how you interact with others. The good news is, effective psychological treatment is available and mental health services are covered by most insurance plans.
The idea of a mental illness is that disturbed patterns of inner experiences and behaviors reflect some kind of flaw (dysfunction) in the internal biological, psychological and developmental mechanisms that lead to normal, healthy psychological functioning. For example, it’s perfectly normal to feel sad after a loved one dies, but when those feelings last for weeks or months and cause you to lose interest in activities you normally enjoy, it could be a sign of depression. Similarly, if you are paranoid and have delusions, it’s considered a disorder because the disturbances aren’t based on reality.
Throughout history, people with these kinds of disturbances have been treated in a variety of ways. The early 1800s see reformer Dorothea Dix campaign for better care for mentally ill people, and psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin develops a classification scheme for different types of disorders. By the time of World War I, a mental hygiene movement develops with the goal of preventing mental illness. Clinical psychology and social work become established as professions, and a range of effective treatments for psychological disorders begin to emerge.
Some conditions need to be treated in a hospital or residential program. This might be because of the severity of your symptoms or because you’re in danger of hurting yourself or someone else. Others require outpatient treatment, which is provided in clinics and therapists’ offices over a period of months or years.
There are many different types of mental health treatments, including cognitive behaviour therapy, which examines how a person’s thinking can get stuck in unhelpful patterns and how that can be changed. Interpersonal therapy, which looks at relationships and interactions, is another option. Other therapies, such as EMDR, use eye movements to help relieve the effects of trauma.
There are also some conditions that involve a particular part of the brain, such as bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder. And there are some that appear during childhood and can continue into adulthood, like conduct disorder or dissociative identity disorder. Lastly, there are some conditions that affect a person’s ability to control their impulses, such as kleptomania and pyromania. These are called impulse control disorders. Some people are also unable to stop a particular activity, such as gambling or internet addiction, and this is known as a substance use disorder. Some of these conditions are called dual diagnosis because they can be accompanied by an addiction or drug use. Some therapists specialise in treating these disorders. They are called dual diagnosis therapists and they use a combination of approaches, from psychotherapy to medication management. The goal is to restore a person’s quality of life and improve their relationships. They may also suggest support groups or education programs. They can also recommend lifestyle changes, such as exercise or changing certain foods.