What is Mental Illness?
No doubt you’ve heard a lot about mental illness, but how much do you really know about it? A mental illness is a disorder that affects the thoughts and behaviors of an individual and can make it difficult to cope with day-to-day life. There are currently hundreds if not thousands of different types of mental illnesses. Some produce mild symptoms, while others can be severe and debilitating.
Mental health disorders are common and can affect anyone, no matter the age, gender, race, or ethnicity. It’s believed millions of Americans suffer from mental disorders every year. It can be difficult for a person or their family to accept a mental illness exist. If you or someone you know is currently experiencing symptoms of a mental disorder, know that there are many resources available to help. Partner in care with us and let’s work together developing a plan for you or your loved one.
Common forms of mental illness include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
The National Center for Health Statistics reported during 2019, 9.5%, 3.4%, and 2.7% of adults experienced mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of anxiety in the past 2 weeks, respectively, while 84.4% experienced no or minimal symptoms. The percentage of adults who experienced mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of anxiety was highest among those aged 18–29 and decreased with age. Women were more likely to experience mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of anxiety than men. Non-Hispanic Asian adults were least likely to experience mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of anxiety compared with Hispanic, non-Hispanic white, and non-Hispanic black adults.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics about 16.5% of school-aged children had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder in the United States in 2016. The most common mental health disorders among children include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and behavioral disorders. This report describes the percentage of U.S. children aged 5–17 years who have taken prescription medication for mental health or have received counseling or therapy from a mental health professional in the past 12 months by select characteristics, based on data from the 2019 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Estimates are also presented for any mental health treatment, defined as having taken medication for mental health, received counseling or therapy, or both in the past 12 months.
Figure 3. Percentage of adults aged 18 and over who experienced symptoms of anxiety in the past 2 weeks, by symptom severity and sex: United States, 2019
- Graph obtained from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db378.htm
You may start to notice personality or mood changes in yourself or someone you love. They may also change their habits or seclude themselves from social interactions. Mental illness can be triggered by life stressors such as loss/death. Mental illness can also be caused by genetic components, chemical imbalances, or a combination of all of these. Fortunately, with proper treatment, those with a mental illness can often learn to cope with their disorder and lead healthy lifestyles.
The Warning Signs
It can be challenging to determine whether someone you love is dealing with mental illness, particularly in young children and teens. Here are some of the most common symptoms.
Adults and Teens
- Persistent sadness or irritability
- Extreme anxiety or fear
- Having extreme emotional highs and lows
- Severe anger
- Delusional thoughts
- Confused thinking
- Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there
- Suicidal thoughts
- Substance abuse
- Inability to cope with daily life
Older Children and Pre-teens
- Substance abuse
- Vandalism, theft or defying authority
- Intense or unpredictable mood swings
- Poor appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
- Outbursts of anger
- A change in sleeping or eating patterns
- Inability to manage responsibilities at school or home
- Poor school performance
- Extreme fear or anxiety
- Persistent nightmares
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Frequently being disobedient or angry, or throwing temper tantrums
Mental illness affects everyone, not just the individual. Families can find the support and care they need through both family and individual counseling.
How Can Your Provider Help?
Medical professional can help analyze information presented and identify signs or symptoms of mental illness an individual may be experiencing. Your provider can assist in community referrals for specialist in your area and assist in building a treatment plan that works for all involved. Never hesitate to bring up any concerns with your provider - even if symptoms are related to mental health.