Serious Mental illness: How it Affects You 

Overview

Serious mental illness is the group of 300 mental illnesses under DSM ( Diseases and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Although, the concept of mental and serious mental illness is still arguable. But, the severity is cleared. However, the efforts that have been made to define serious mental illness, have come to the same conclusion and with and with the same reports. 

Serious mental illnesses include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression, dementia, and the rest others are in a group of those 300 disorders. 

The Center for Mental Health Services defines mental illness as a disorder which “ resulted in functional impairment which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities”. 

The CMHS had defined “functional impairment” to study how many adults over eighteen have a serious mental disorder. And when they did so, they have found that 90% of the people with the symptoms of severe mental disorder had either a severe mental condition like schizophrenia or a bipolar disorder. 

By reviewing the reports and studies, it has been concluded that serious mental illness includes schizophrenia spectrum disorders and severe bipolar disorder, and severe depression. The individuals affected by these mental sufferings form the mass of those with serious mental illness. Nevertheless, the other mental conditions or illnesses which cause functional impairment and restrict other life activities are also in the category of serious mental illnesses. 

What NHIM Says About Serious Mental Illness?

In the opinion of the national institute of mental health, serious mental illness is comparatively rare. It’s been observed that it affects only 5% of the population above 18. However, serious mental illnesses include severe schizophrenia, (all types of schizophrenia are considered severe), severe major depression, and severe bipolar disorder. 

what is serious mental illness

As per the reports of NHIM:-

  • NHIM described all schizophrenia as severe, which affects only 1.1% of the population. 
  • The subclass of bipolar disorder is severe, which affects only 2.2% of the population. 
  • The subclass of major depression or severe major depression, which affects only 2.0% of the population. 

Schizophrenia 

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness in which the person illuminates reality abnormally. The condition results in a mixing of hallucinations, delusions, and immensely disorganized thoughts and behavior, that affects daily functioning. The treatment goes lifelong for schizophrenia. An early diagnosis will be beneficial in the long run. 

Individuals having schizophrenia experience a lack of performance and irritable mood always, a lack of motivation, and withdrawal from family and friends. 

Bipolar disorder 

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a severe mental illness that causes fluctuations in intense high or low moods and sleeps, thinking, energy, and behavior.

People with bipolar disorder experience episodes of feeling overwhelmed, excited, and energized and other episodes of feeling sad, low, and hopeless. Between those episodes, they feel normal. The disorder swings with lows and highs, that’s why it is called bipolar disorder. 

Depending on the symptoms of the disorder, this is categorized into few categories such as bipolar disorder 1 and bipolar disorder 2. 

Individuals having bipolar disorder often experience a sudden onset of low or high moods, and restlessness, lack of sleep, drug and alcohol abuse. The unusual fluctuations in mood, however, affect their sex drive as well. 

Depression 

Well, depression is a common issue among a large population, but there is a difference between having depression and severe depression. In the severe conditions of depression, it can affect the daily work routine of the person. The depressed person will experience extreme sadness, anger, loss of interest in things, social withdrawal, isolation. 

The CDC( center for disease control and prevention) declared that 8.1% of Americans ages over 20 had depression for about two weeks from 2013-2016. Individuals with depression often feel low efficiency at work and low involvement at home, conflicts in relationships. They can’t get over the negative thoughts and get overwhelmed by them. 

Physical Illness V/s Mental Health Illness 

Physical illness is connected to external symptomatic illnesses, such as fever, body pain or fracture, any kind of allergy. On the other hand, mental illnesses are described as the way of a person thinking, emotions, behavior, and reaction to situations. The person suffers in his room of mind. However, the symptoms are physical too, but the root cause is the mind. 

Thus, the term “physical illnesses” is used to differentiate it from mental disorders. When physical illnesses are diagnosed by certain laboratory tests such as blood tests or body imaging, mental illnesses are diagnosed with behavioral syndromes that are mentioned in the DSM. 

When we talk about health, we consider all three factors including being physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. These all factors are not separate but intertwined. Any problem in physical health or illness will lead to mental exhaustion and vice versa. Similarly, when the person is not mentally fit, he will suffer emotionally as well. 

How To Know If You Have A Mental Illness?

Well, as we have discussed that mental illnesses affect your thinking, emotions, and behavior. In most cases, the person experiences a confused state of mind and loses his ability to control his thoughts and emotions which constantly kills the person from inside. However, these episodes of lows and highs are in everybody’s life but usually get normal within few days. Mental illness is constant suffering for several days and months. Mental illness interferes with the normal daily tasks of the person. 

Also read: what are sleep disorders 

There are few warning signs you should know about symptoms of mental illness:- 

  • Sleep problems
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Mood shifts
  • Isolation
  • Illogical thinking 
  • Underperformance in school or at work
  • Loss of interest 
  • Excessive nervousness
  • Thoughts that are hard to explain
  • Irritable behavior
  • Feeling detached from reality 

How To Treat Serious Mental Illness? 

The treatment is different for every individual in different cases. The treatment for depression in both the affected individuals doesn’t have to be the same. There are no one-fits for all. Choosing the right combination for the recovery will be effective in such cases. 

There are some treatment options for serious illness:- 

Psychotherapy:– it includes a wide branch of psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, family psychoeducation, and interpersonal psychotherapy. It helps in exploring thoughts and feelings which makes the person feel less burden and also to acknowledge his feelings and try to change the interpretation. 

Medications:– medicines are not the primary option for the treatment of mental illnesses. Although, it can be a good option to minimize the severity of the condition. For instance, if a person is not able to sleep, he can take the prescribed sleeping pills. Similarly, for any other symptom, medicine is applicable. 

Alternative medicine:– it doesn’t include the tablet or a capsule, but some lifestyle improvement. Starting some natural exercise practices such as yoga, breathing techniques, and plenty of other relaxation exercises. 

Support and intervention:– some supportive environments such as assertive community treatment, and supportive employment can support the recovery goal. 

Brain stimulation therapies:– these techniques are used when the medication and other therapies don’t work. In brain therapies, electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation are included.

Conclusion

Serious mental illnesses are those which impact the person’s daily life and exhaust them mentally. However, treating them with proper support and therapies it can be treatable. 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is mental health? 

Mental health includes all the cognitive behavior such as our emotional, psychological and social. The way we handle stress, make decisions and react to any specific situation comes under mental health. We can’t measure someone’s mental health just by their appearance. Who is seeming physically well, may not have good mental health. Hence, good mental health is important from childhood to adulthood. Feeding yourself with good thoughts and beliefs is equally important as feeding your body with a good diet. 

What is considered a serious mental illness?

A serious mental illness as per CMHS defined as a functional impairment that significantly interferes and limits the major life tasks and activities. It includes mental conditions such as severe schizophrenia, severe depression, dementia, bipolar disorder, and the other serious mental conditions fall in the group of 300 mental diseases. In the study of CMHS, they found that 90% of the individuals who had serious mental illnesses were suffering from either schizophrenia or severe bipolar disorder. Although the serious mental illness is not exactly clear yet, its severity is clear. 

What are the 4 types of mental illness?

There are various types of mental illnesses:- 

  • Depression 
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Eating disorders such as bulimia 
  • Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Drug abuse or substance abuse disorder

What is the hardest mental illness to treat?

A borderline personality disorder is considered the hardest mental illness to treat. But it was difficult historically, present time has evolved new methods and therapies to treat it. A person with borderline personality disorder often comes across paranoid thoughts, unexplained anger issues, an intense feeling of emptiness, and more. In the US 75% of the population having BDP are women. The one main barrier in the treatment is the discontinuation of therapies. People with this illness often feel triggered and uncontrollable during therapies. 

What are some of the worst mental illnesses?

  • Capgras delusion
  • Cotard delusion
  • Diogenes syndrome
  • Dissociative disorder
  • Factitious disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Paris syndrome
  • Reduplicative amnesia 
  • Apotemnophilia 

What is the rarest mental illness?

Apotemnophilia is one of the rarest mental illnesses characterized by an overwhelming desire to amputate healthy parts of the body. Thus, it is called integrity and neurological disorder. As yet not much known for this weird mental illness could be associated with the damage of the right parietal lobe of the brain. As no doctor will amputate a healthy limb from someone’s body, people with apotemnophilia feel to amputate it by themselves. This is the worst and scary scenario of such a mental illness. 

What is a psychotic break?

A psychotic break is characterized by false beliefs, hallucinations, anxiety, delusions, depressed mood, and sleep disorders. Having a psychotic break means the first onset of psychotic disorders after a period of remission. The onset may be sudden. 

What are the top 3 mental illnesses?

Anxiety disorders:- anxiety disorder is highly treatable according to the anxiety and depression association of America, but only a few affected people receive the treatment. Well, anxiety and depression could be coexisting and easy to diagnose. The symptoms include excessive worrying, restlessness, trouble sleeping, fatigue, stiff muscles, and panic attacks. 

Major depressive disorder:- this disorder is the major cause of the disability of Americans among 15-44 years old. Some common symptoms of major depressive disorder are depressed mood, loss of interest and pleasure in things, change in weight, sleep patterns and appetite, and an extreme feeling of worthlessness.

Bipolar disorder:- bipolar disorder includes episodes of high and low moods drastically. People with bipolar disorder sometimes get overwhelmed by the energy and sometimes feel sad, depressed. The shift in mood is frequent in those people. 

What are the signs of a mental breakdown?

Signs of mental breakdown or nervous breakdown include intense worrying, anxiety, stress, and loss of control over one’s feelings and emotions. Which interferes with their other functional ability in other daily tasks. Generally, it is seen as intolerance of the daily life challenges and difficulties, making the person more vulnerable to run by emotional distress and ineffectiveness in functioning. 

What does a psychotic episode look like?

A psychotic episode looks real to the affected person but isn’t. People with psychosis experience auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations and tactile hallucinations, and delusions that are false and imaginary beliefs in the mind. For instance, having superpowers or different behavior that makes no sense. 

What triggers psychosis?

There can be numerous triggers for psychosis:- 

  • Drugs:- some drugs like marijuana, LSD, cocaine has depressing symptoms on the brain and dramatically stimulate the brain’s activity, which shows unrealistic things to them. 
  • Trauma:- any accident that happened in past like the death of a loved one, sexual harassment, or witnessing any crime may be the trigger of those symptoms. 
  • Injuries:- some severe brain injuries like brain strokes, tumors, and others may cause psychosis. 

Can you go back to normal after psychosis?

Yes, some patients get normal after a psychosis episode with medicine, while others have fewer and acute symptoms. Though the hallucinations and delusions won’t completely go, the patient will learn to manage them. Various therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, supportive psychotherapy, coordinated specialty care help treat psychosis.

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