The Truth About Mental Illness

Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.

First of all, let's define it. Mental illness refers to a range of mental health conditions that affect your mood, thinking and behaviour.

Some examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviours.

A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships.

In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and psychotherapy.

There is a popular misconception about Mental illness not being treatable. Mental illness is treatable.

The vast majority of individuals with mental illness continue to function in their daily lives.

Types of Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are of different types and degrees of severity.

Some of the well-known illnesses include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorders, and eating disorders.

The most common mental illnesses are anxiety and depressive disorders.

While everyone experiences strong feelings of tension, fear, or sadness at times, mental illness is present when these feelings become so disturbing and overwhelming that people have great difficulty coping with day-to-day activities, such as work, enjoying leisure time, and maintaining relationships.

Symptoms of Mental Illness

Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors.

Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviours. Examples of signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad or down

  • Major changes in eating habits

  • Problems with alcohol or drug use

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Inability to cope with daily problems or stress

  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations

  • Withdrawal from friends and activities

  • Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt.

  • Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate

Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or unexplained aches and pains.

If you have any signs or symptoms of mental illness, please see a mental health professional.

This is because most mental illnesses don’t improve on their own, and if untreated, a mental illness may get worse over time and cause serious problems.

What Are The Causes of Mental Illness?

There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness.

The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known. It is becoming clear through research that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

Biological factors

Genetics (heredity): Mental illnesses sometimes run in families, suggesting that people who have a family member with a mental illness may be somewhat more likely to develop one themselves. Susceptibility is passed on in families through genes.

Infections: Certain infections have been linked to brain damage and the development of mental illness or the worsening of its symptoms.

For example, a condition known as pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder (PANDAS) associated with the Streptococcus bacteria has been linked to the development of the obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental illnesses in children.

Traumatic Brain Injury: An injury to certain areas of the brain have also been linked to some mental illnesses.

Substance Abuse: Long-term abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs has been linked to anxiety, depression, and paranoia.

Psychological Factors

Severe psychological trauma suffered as a child, such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse can lead to mental illness.

Also an important early loss, such as the loss of a parent. Neglect and poor ability to relate to others are some of the psychological factors that cause mental illness too.

Environmental Factors

Certain stressors can trigger an illness in a person who is susceptible to mental illness such as social expectations. For example, a society that associates beauty with thinness can be a facto