A psychiatric disorder, also called a mental illness or mental disorder, is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning.
Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life and which is not developmentally or socially normative.
Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing.
Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.
Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder.
Signs and symptoms of Mental/Psychiatric illnesses
Early Warning Signs of Mental Illnesses
Being informed about developing symptoms, or early warning signs, can lead to treatment that can help reduce the severity of an illness. It may even be possible to delay or prevent a major mental illness altogether.
What are the Signs and Symptoms to Be Concerned About?
If several of the following are occurring, a serious condition may be developing.
Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in others.
An unusual drop in functioning, especially at school or work, such as quitting sports, failing in school, or difficulty performing familiar tasks.
Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain.
Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations.
Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity; apathy.
A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality.
Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or “magical” thinking typical of childhood in an adult.
Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling.
Uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior.
Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or deterioration in personal hygiene.
Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings or “mood swings.”
One or two of these symptoms can’t predict a mental illness. But a person experiencing several together that are causing serious problems in his or her ability to study, work, or relate to others should be seen by a mental health professional.
Suicidal thoughts or attempts and bizarrely violent or homicidal thoughts require immediate attention.
Untreated, these early symptoms may progress to a psychological breakdown.
Shame, fear, denial, and other factors often prevent individuals or their families from seeking help, even though the emergence of these symptoms as early as the teenage years is not caused by bad parenting.
Treatment – When and What?
When Should Treatment Begin?
Research around the world has shown that early intervention can often prevent a first psychotic episode and a hospitalization.Each individual’s situation is assessed carefully and treatment is individualized. Medication may be useful in reducing some symptoms. Oftentimes, the best treatment involves both medication and some form of talk therapy.
The minimal risk of starting treatment even before a mental illness appears in its full-blown, diagnosable form is outweighed by the degree of distress a person and their family may already be experiencing by the time they are referred for mental health screening.