Mental health issues are more common than you might think. They’re not something that happens to “other people” – they can affect anyone, at any age, and from any walk of life. These conditions can range from common conditions like depression and anxiety to rarer ones like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and they can affect how someone functions at work, in school, or in their relationships.

Just like physical health conditions, these issues can be severe and require treatment. Early identification and support are critical, so it’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms of mental illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults living in the United States experiences mental illness each year. Knowing what some of these illnesses look like can help you recognize them in yourself or someone close to you and take steps toward getting help.

Recognizing the common symptoms of mental illness

It’s crucial to understand that mental illnesses present in various ways, and symptoms can look different from one person to another. However, there are common signs that might indicate a person is experiencing mental health challenges. These may include feelings of prolonged sadness, extreme highs and lows, excessive fear or worry, social withdrawal, dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits, and unexplained physical ailments.

Symptoms may also include struggles with understanding or relating to situations and people and difficulties coping with daily problems or stress. There are also risk factors that contribute to mental illness or make someone more susceptible to developing one. These are often complex and multifaceted, including a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Genetic predisposition can play a role, as mental health conditions sometimes run in families. Biological factors, such as brain chemistry and structure or a history of brain injury, can also contribute. Environmental exposures before birth, such as exposure to lead or a mother’s use of drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, can also be influencing factors. Certain life experiences, like a history of trauma or abuse, chronic medical conditions, or the use of alcohol or recreational drugs, also play a role in developing a mental illness.

Exploring the Most Common Mental Health Conditions

Chances are you may already be familiar with the following conditions, as depression and anxiety are among the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses.

Depression

Depression is a common mental disorder that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It causes feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, leading to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities and sometimes may feel as if life isn’t worth living.

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety. They are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. Someone suffering from an anxiety disorder may experience intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event, but if symptoms persist and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, it could be PTSD.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. This condition is characterized by periods of overly-elevated mood or irritability (manic episodes) followed by periods of depression. While these conditions can be incredibly challenging, it’s important to remember that they are not insurmountable.

With timely intervention, professional help, and a robust support system, individuals dealing with these conditions can navigate their journey toward recovery and lead fulfilling lives. The key is to recognize the symptoms early on and seek help without delay. Remember, it’s okay to reach out – your mental health matters.

Ways to Fight Stigma Around Mental Illness

The battle against mental health stigma is one of our most significant challenges. It starts with education. We need to understand and communicate that mental illness is not a personal failure but a health issue that can affect anyone. Encourage open discussions about mental health and express empathy and understanding towards people living with these conditions.

Promote mental health literacy by sharing accurate information and resources and debunking myths and misconceptions. Maintain respectful language when addressing mental health, avoiding labels or derogatory terms that may deepen the stigma. Sharing personal stories of mental health struggles and victories can be powerful, inspiring others to seek help and assuring them that they are not alone. Each small step towards combating stigma can make a huge difference. When we change our attitude towards mental health, we create a world where everyone feels safe and supported to seek help when they need it.

When to ask for help

Recognizing when to seek professional help for a mental illness can be a crucial step toward recovery. It’s important to understand that mental health is just as important as physical health, and professional help can provide the necessary support and treatment. If you or someone you know has been experiencing symptoms of mental illness, such as prolonged sadness, extreme mood swings, excessive fear or worry, or dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits, it may be time to reach out to a healthcare provider.

You should also consider seeking help if these symptoms are causing significant distress or disruption in daily life activities or if you’re having thoughts of suicide or self-harm. It’s also essential to seek professional help if you’re relying on substances like alcohol or drugs to cope with your feelings. If you’ve been through a traumatic event and are having difficulty moving past your experiences, this could also be a sign that it’s time to seek help.

Remember, everyone’s experience with mental health is unique, and it’s important to listen to your feelings and instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a counselor or therapist near you. They’re equipped with the knowledge and tools to provide the help and support you need. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness but rather a brave step towards recovery and wellness.

At Serene Health, we are dedicated to providing quality and compassionate behavioral health and mental health services and support. If you or someone you know needs help with a mental health issue, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We also offer flexible appointments through our Telehealth platform so you can speak to a therapist online from the comfort of your home. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit www.serenehealth.com to schedule an appointment.

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