Psychological illness can cause extreme suffering, distress and impairment. Psychiatry recognizes these issues as mental health conditions and provides treatment to help people recover and live normal lives. It includes medication, psychotherapy (known as talk therapy or counseling) and a variety of other treatments including psychosocial programs and support groups. It also aims to promote understanding and acceptance by the community of people with psychological disabilities.
Symptoms of mental illnesses vary widely and it is sometimes not clear when a person needs professional care. A low mood that lasts a long time or interferes with daily functioning may be a sign of depression. A fear that causes someone to avoid social situations is a sign of an anxiety disorder. Some people with mental illness have a higher risk of suicide.
Scientists are working to understand the causes of mental illnesses. They have found that some disorders are linked to changes in brain chemistry. Medications can help to restore the brain’s usual chemical balance, which may reduce or eliminate symptoms. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, helps people to better understand their thoughts and feelings and develop coping skills. Other types of therapies include group therapy, art therapy and family interventions.
People from all backgrounds and cultures experience mental illness. A diverse set of individual, family, community and structural factors can protect and undermine mental health. Risk and protective factors include traumatic events, bullying, poor quality of life and the influence of wider society and culture.
The main treatment approaches used for psychological disorders are medications, psychotherapy, education and rehabilitation. Those who need to do so can get support from local services including accommodation, employment assistance, training and education, psychosocial rehabilitation and mutual support programs. Alternative and complementary therapies such as yoga and meditation can also be helpful in some cases. For some disorders, such as schizophrenia, the use of newer brain stimulation therapies has shown promise in reducing the symptoms. This work continues, but more research is needed to improve the outcomes for people with these conditions. People who have a long history of psychological difficulties are often at greater risk of experiencing serious episodes of mental illness. It is important to be aware of the warning signs and to seek professional help when necessary. It is also important to stay in contact with family and friends and to participate in regular activities. Joining a support group is an excellent way to meet others who have similar experiences and to gain understanding and support. This can also be a useful source of information about available treatments. For many, recovery from mental illness is a process that requires ongoing effort and commitment. But the benefits of treatment can be significant, allowing people to lead healthy and productive lives.