Mental Illness: Signs and Symptoms

Mental illness refers to a vast assortment of mental health ailments — disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. Cases of mental disorder include depression, stress ailments, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. A lot of people have psychological health concerns from time to time.

Everyone feels worried or anxious or down from time to time. But relatively few people develop a mental illness. What’s the difference? Mental illness is a mental health condition that gets in the way of thinking, relating to others, and day-to-day function.

Dozens of mental illnesses have been identified and defined. They include depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and many more.

Mental illness is an equal opportunity issue. It affects young and old, male and female, and individuals of every race, ethnic background, education level, and income level. The good news is that it can often be treated.

What are the Common Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness?

Signs and symptoms of mental illness depend in part on the illness. Common symptoms include:

• feeling down for a while
• extreme swings in mood
• withdrawing from family, friends, or activities
• low energy or problems sleeping
• often feeling angry, hostile, or violent
• feeling paranoid, hearing voices, or having hallucinations
• often thinking about death or suicide.
• In some people, symptoms of mental illness first appear as physical problems such as stomach aches, back pain, or insomnia.

Individuals with a mental illness can often ease their symptoms and feel better by talking with a therapist and following a treatment plan that may or may not include medication.

Types of Mental Illness

There are nearly 300 mental disorders listed in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). This is a handbook used by health professionals to help identify and diagnose mental illness.

Some of the main groups of mental disorders are:

  • mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
  • anxiety disorders
  • personality disorders
  • psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)
  • eating disorders
  • trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • substance abuse disorders

The diagnosis of mental illness can be controversial. There have been many debates in the medical community about what is and isn’t a mental illness. The definition can be influenced by our society and culture, but most mental illnesses occur across all countries and cultures. This suggests that they are not just constructed by social norms and expectations, but have a biological and psychological basis too.