Understanding mental disorders

June 3, 2014


What is a mental health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health can affect the way we think, feel, act, make decisions, relate to others and handle stress. Metal health can vary over time and across circumstances. IT is normal for everyone to have good and bad days. On good days, we may feel like we are flexible and can adapt to many different stressors and circumstances (like school, work, relationships, and how we feel about ourselves). However, on bad days, we may feel like we can’t cope with the stressors in our lives and feel overwhelmed and stuck. Sometimes, these variations in well-being can change from hour to hour or day to day, and can last for weeks, months, or longer.

What influences mental health?

Many factors influence our mental health, including:

  • Biological facts: physical health (or illness), genetics, neurotransmitters (brain chemistry), medications, alcohol and drugs, or sleep
  • Psychological factors: emotions and attitudes, learning, beliefs, and stress management
  • Social factors: family, peer relationships, culture, socioeconomics, and life experiences, such as tramuma, abuse and neglect

How common is mental illness?

Mental health problems are common in at least one out of every five people. In most cases, they are manageable and with the right kind of help, most people who experience these difficulties are able to live happy and successful lives.

Mental illness can cause people to think, act, and feel differently than they usually do. Some mental illnesses are more severe than others, and have more noticeable symptoms. For a person going through these difficulties, the different feelings are often scary.

What causes mental illness?

Mental illness can affect people from any religion, culture, economic background, or nationality. A number of factors are associated with mental illness. Some of these factors include:

Family history: Most illnesses, both mental and physical, have a genetic component. This means that if someone related to you has a mental health difficulty, then you may be at higher risk for a mental health problem.

Chemical imbalance: An imbalance of chemicals, called neurotransmitters, in the brain can cause a mental illness. Most drugs that are used to manage mental health illnesses try to correct this balance.

Stressful life events: Stress, like grief, anxiety, or experiencing violence or a traumatic event, might trigger a mental health problem.

Drug use: Research shows that use of drugs can be associated with mental illnesses. For example, studies have linked some serious mental disorders with chronic drug abuse, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, manic depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.

Different types of mental illness

There are many different types of mental illness. Below is an explanation of some of the common terms used by mental health professionals.

Depressive disorder

When someone feels sad for a period of time longer than a couple of weeks, he or she might be depressed. People experiencing depression may show some or all of these symptoms:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest usual hobbies or activities
  • Lack of energy
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Crying a lot for no reason
  • Feeling anxious

Anxiety disorder

Everyone experiences fear or anxiety every now and then, especially when they’re in new or unfamiliar situations. Check out the Anxiety fact sheet for more on how you can manage these feelings. People sometimes experience intense forms of anxiety that can prevent them from going about daily activities. These anxiety disorders can cause people to have sudden, unexplained panic attacks that can seem beyond their control. Other people become anxious about more specific things. This can lead to obsessive behavior, causing them to check and recheck things.

Source: us.reachout.com

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