The word “psychological illness” refers to a pattern of inner experiences and behaviors that cause distress or impairment in social, occupational or other life areas. A person is said to have a psychological disorder when these patterns are so disturbing that they interfere with normal functioning and lead to distress or disability in one’s daily life (Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2007). The causes of mental disorders differ from those of other medical illnesses, but they may be influenced by biological factors as well as by environmental influences. They are generally considered to be caused by some combination of nature and nurture, just as other medical illnesses are (Engel, 1977).
Psychological disorders may affect a person’s mood, ability to think clearly, ability to interact with others or their body’s functions. They can be a constant source of worry, discomfort or even embarrassment for the individual who has them. They can also cause significant distress for those who love or care about them.
Some people with psychological disorders may be able to manage their symptoms on their own, while others need help from health professionals. In many cases, treatment involves some form of therapy along with medications. The type of therapy used will depend on the specific disorder and its severity. There are several approaches to psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Some psychotherapists use a more traditional approach to therapy called psychoanalysis, which addresses underlying unconscious conflicts and defenses.
In some cases, a person who has a serious mental disorder may need to be hospitalized. This may be so that they can be closely monitored, accurately diagnosed and have their medicines adjusted when needed. This is especially important if the person has a risk of harming themselves or someone else.
The main goal of treatment for psychological disorders is to reduce or eliminate disabling symptoms so that a person can function normally in his or her everyday life. This may involve talking therapy, such as psychotherapy, which is done with a professional, or medication. In addition, some people benefit from joining a support group. This helps them connect with other people who are experiencing the same issues and provides a chance to learn how to cope with the disorder. In the long term, it is also important for a person to develop positive coping strategies and a healthy lifestyle to prevent recurrence of their condition.