What is Psychological Illness?

Psychological illness is a complex and serious condition that affects thoughts, feelings, mood, and behavior. It is not the fault of a person, and it can be treated with medication, psychotherapy or other mental health treatments. It can also be helped by lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet, which may help relieve symptoms. People with psychological disorders can live normal, productive lives if they get treatment. Many of these conditions are very common, and can happen to people of any age, race, income level or educational background.

To be considered a psychological disorder, a person must have inner experiences and behaviors that are significantly disturbed (for example, being preoccupied with thoughts of germs or having a fear of heights). The disturbances must cause distress and/or disability in important areas of life such as work and relationships. They must also differ from those of a healthy person (for example, being mildly anxious versus being extremely fearful). Certain mental health problems have a biological basis, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. These disorders are triggered by genes or environment and are more likely to occur in some people than in others. However, the role of genetics and environment in the development of a psychological disorder is complicated (see figure below).

Mental illnesses are usually difficult to recognize and describe, so they can be misunderstood and stigmatized by those around them. These attitudes can lead to shame and embarrassment, which can hinder a person’s efforts to seek help. They can also lead to discrimination and prejudice. In addition, there is a tendency to blame mental illnesses on a person’s sins or moral failings. The term “madness” was often used for these disorders in the 17th and 18th centuries, but as the enlightenment movement gained traction during that time, clear descriptions of certain types of disorder began to emerge.

Medications are an important part of the treatment for most psychological disorders, and they are usually covered by medical insurance. Medications can help restore the brain’s natural chemical balance, which in turn reduces or eliminates the symptoms. The type of medication prescribed will vary depending on the diagnosis, but there are several options that are available to everyone.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can be helpful in treating many psychological disorders. It can be done one-on-one with a therapist or in group therapy sessions. Some of the most popular types of psychotherapy include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectic behavior therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy. There are also some alternative forms of therapy such as psychoanalysis, which focuses on underlying psychic conflicts and defenses. In some cases, a combination of these therapies is needed. These strategies are effective in helping to improve a person’s quality of life, and can also prevent the recurrence of symptoms. These techniques are often included in a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes support programs. These may include housing, job training and social support groups.