While people tend to be familiar with conditions that can affect their physical health — from colds to cancer to heart disease — they are not always as aware of the conditions that can affect their mental health. In order to achieve overall wellness, it is important to understand the role that mental illness can play and to know that it is treatable.
Awareness is the Key to Identifying and Treating Mental Disorders
There are many conditions that can impact a person’s mental and emotional health. Some of the most common include:
- Anxiety disorders. Everyone experiences a sense of anxiousness from time to time. But when it is a feeling that persists or returns frequently with great intensity and interferes with normal life, it may be an anxiety disorder.
- Depression. Sadness, grieving and related negative feelings are normal when they arise and then fade within a few days or weeks. If these feelings are especially deep, remain for more than two weeks and interfere with functioning at home or work, mental illness may be the cause.
- Bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder experience alternating periods of extreme emotional highs and lows, as well as spikes in energy level and an impaired ability to think clearly.
- ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a condition where a person has problems maintaining attention, is overly active and acts impulsively. More common in children and adolescents, it can affect a person at any age.
- PTSD. Posttraumatic stress disorder is caused by traumatic events such as assault, abuse, military combat, severe injuries and natural disasters. Symptoms can include flashbacks or nightmares about the trauma, depressed mood, anxiety and excessive reactions to life events.
- Schizophrenia. This condition causes extremely disordered thinking, hallucinations, delusions, unusual behavior and a state of being out of touch with reality.
- Eating disorders. Conditions such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa involve disordered thinking about appearance and weight that lead to eating behaviors that have both mental and physical health consequences.
- Autism. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that impairs a person’s ability to communicate and socialize with others. It is referred to as a “spectrum” because it manifests differently in each person, with symptoms that range from mild to severe.
- Borderline personality disorder. This condition results in dramatic mood swings, emotional instability, impulsive behavior and difficulty maintaining relationships.
Help is Available
All of these conditions can make life more difficult, both for the person suffering from them as well as their friends and family. However, all are treatable. If you think you are experiencing a mental health issue, your doctor can talk with you about treatment options. You should not “suffer in silence.”
Important note: If you are struggling with a mental health condition and have thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, you should seek help immediately by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 911, or by going to a hospital emergency room.