An estimated one in five American adults—51.5 million—live with a mental illness. Mental illness can range from mild to severe, impacting people in various ways. For some, their mental illness may only slightly or moderately produce mental, behavioral, or emotional impairment. Others, however, may experience serious impairment, disrupting their ability to participate in daily life and activities. And, still more people have a high-functioning mental illness, which enables them to live productive, seemingly balanced lives. Despite their outward success, these individuals may not have the self-awareness to identify depression, anxiety, or other forms of mental illness.
With May marking Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to review the signs, symptoms, and types of common mental health disorders.
As part of their 2021 “You Are Not Alone” campaign, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is focusing on the importance of awareness and connection when it comes to mental health and better understanding mental illness.
At Futures Recovery Healthcare, we understand the challenges and misconceptions often attached to mental illness. No one should have to worry, feel guilty, or ashamed about getting help for a mental health disorder. Our Futures Mental Health division tirelessly works together to help individuals and families find and secure treatment and support for a wide range of mental health disorders in a safe and judgment-free environment.
Why Awareness of Mental Illness is Vital Now More Than Ever
Improving awareness and understanding of mental illness is key to helping progress treatment availability and resources, reducing discrimination, and decreasing health disparities. Recent studies regarding the impact of COVID-19 on both people with existing mental health disorders and those who developed mental illness as a result of the pandemic only emphasize the importance of these initiatives.
According to an ongoing survey—the Household Pulse Survey (developed by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)—the percentage of adults in the United States between August 2020 and February 2021 with anxiety rose by 36.4% and 41.5% for those with depression. Additionally, in August, 9.2% of people revealed their need for counseling or therapy services had risen to 11.7% in February.
In a published article by the National Insitute of Mental Health (NIMH) Director Dr. Joshua A. Gordon reported that “In the immediate wake of a traumatic experience, large numbers of affected people report distress, including new or worsening symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Most people will recover, though that recovery can take some time. A notable fraction of people will develop chronic symptoms severe enough to meet criteria for a mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depressive disorder.”
Those with risk factors such as poor social supports, financial problems, unstable food and/or housing, or a history of mental illness, according to Gordon, are likely to develop chronic or severe reactions, making it more difficult to recover from their condition.
What Are the Most Common Types of Mental Health Disorders?
The breadth of mental illnesses is wide and complex. Some of the most common mental health disorders include:
- Anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobia-related disorder are classified as anxiety disorders. These conditions cause people to experience excessive anxiety and worry, lasting for days or months at a time. Symptoms can cause significant issues in the everyday lives of individuals, making work, school, and social interactions extremely difficult or impossible to perform or participate in.
- Autism spectrum disorder. There is a wide variety of symptoms that range in severity for individuals with autism. Some characteristics of autism spectrum disorders include problems communicating and interacting with people, limited interests, repetitive behaviors, and often experience difficulty functioning in school and work.
- Bipolar disorder. This condition occurs in the brain causing a person to have extreme moods and behaviors. For some people, bipolar disorder can even cause impairment in the way they function.
- Borderline personality disorder. This mental health disorder affects the way a person thinks and feels about themself and others. It can make functioning in daily life difficult, causing self-image problems, challenges in managing emotions and behavior, as well as forming healthy relationships.
- Depression. Also referred to as depressive disorder or clinical depression, this condition is one of the most common (and serious) mood disorders. Depression can be mild, moderate, or severe impacting the way a person feels, thinks, and conducts daily activities. There are several forms of depression ranging from postpartum and bipolar disorder to seasonal affective disorder and psychotic depression.
- Eating Disorders. The most prevalent eating disorders include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. According to statistics, 9% of people in the U.S.—28.8 million Americans—will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A frightening, shocking, or dangerous event can often trigger PTSD, causing short-term or chronic symptoms such as flashbacks of the triggering event, bad dreams, scary thoughts, avoidance of places that remind a person of the trauma experienced, and more.
- Schizophrenia. As a serious mental illness that impacts the way people think, feel, and behave, schizophrenia can often be disabling. People with schizophrenia can experience hallucinations, delusions, and difficulty thinking in a rational, logical, or organized way. The condition is typically diagnosed in the later teen years to the early thirties and is more prevalent in males.
This is by no means a complete list of mental health disorders. If you suspect you or someone you love has a mental illness, it’s best to consult with a professional. Below, we’ll highlight some of the signs and symptoms indicative of many of the mental health disorders listed above (and others).
Identifying the Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders
Again, the list we provided above is only an abbreviated account—and not a complete inventory—of mental health disorders. Part of helping spread awareness about mental health is educating yourself on the signs, symptoms, and side effects of common mental health disorders.
People with mental illness may exhibit one or more of the following:
- Continuously having strong feelings that seem to last a long time: Irritability, fear, worry, anger, sadness.
- Ongoing confusion, trouble focusing, and/or concentrating.
- Exhibiting noticeable significant mood changes (either feeling extreme highs or lows)
- Showing signs of avoidance, staying away from family, friends, and activities that were once enjoyable.
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping excessively.
- Demonstrating erratic eating patterns (eating a lot, or little to no food).
- Seeming to have problems relating to or understanding other people.
- Losing sex drive.
- Experiencing delusions and/or hallucinations.
- Appearing to not be self-aware to changes in feelings, behavior, and personality.
- Using substances in an attempt to “self medicate.”
- Developing physical problems without an obvious root cause (headaches, stomach aches, or generalized aches and pains).
- Thinking about suicide.
- Becoming increasingly unable to handle daily activities (especially those that are stressful).
- Discontinuing self-care (neglecting to shower, brush teeth, and not tending to other areas of hygiene).
- Expressing intense fear of gaining weight and overall appearance.
Revisiting High Functioning Mental Illness
One area of mental health awareness that is not perhaps as widely discussed— but is of great importance—is high-functioning mental illness. While some people have a combination of the symptoms listed above and are able to identify them (to some degree), others have no comprehension that something is misaligned in their mental state. This phenom is referred to as anosognosia. Not everyone with anosognosia is high-functioning. Sometimes individuals may have this condition due to another underlying health diagnosis such as dementia or schizophrenia.
Even if a person is high-functioning—exhibiting symptoms of mental illness and able (for the most part) to continue functioning without much consequence—typically, a time comes when the side effects do impact them in a disruptive way. Left untreated, certain mental illnesses and their symptoms can worsen over time.
Treatment for Mental Health Disorders
Both inpatient and outpatient treatment resources are available to help people with mental health disorders. With personalized, comprehensive treatment, many people diagnosed with mental illness are able to live a fulfilling and enjoyable life.
At Futures Recovery Healthcare we have a program specifically dedicated to Mental Health. We offer individual therapy by licensed clinicians, family therapy, case management support, group therapy, and recreational activities in an effort to help people identify stressors and triggers, work on personal and family issues, create lasting recovery plans, promote healthy social skills, improve overall wellbeing and self-care, and much more.
Our program is a safe and non-judgmental resource for males and females 18 and over, struggling with a variety of mental health disorders.
We treat disorders such as depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, bipolar and related disorders by using clinical, medical and psychiatric interventions, and support. Our interdisciplinary team approach allows patients to receive holistic services and care. Our goal is to help develop and establish a journey of healing and a life worth living.
You and your loved one can be on the way to healing, happiness, and a more fulfilling and joyful life. Contact us confidentially online or by phone at 866-804-2098.