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Written by Michele Wheat
Described as a disease of the brain that causes disturbances in one's thoughts or their behavior, mental illness affects more than 60 million Americans. The disturbances can range from mild to severe and oftentimes infringe upon a person's ability to cope with the demands and routines of everyday life. Despite the fact that mental illnesses affect one in four adults and one in five children, there is still a stigma associated with this issue, which is why some choose to not seek help. While awareness of mental illnesses seems to be on the rise, there is much that needs to be done.
Types of Mental Illness
There are 200 million classified forms of mental illness that are broken down into five different categories. These categories are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, dementias, and eating disorders. Other mental health conditions, such as impulse control and addiction disorders, personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are also considered to be mental illnesses. Most types of mental illness affect Americans of all ages, from young children to seniors.
Warning Signs/Symptoms of Mental Illness
While it may seem that a mental illness comes out of nowhere, this is usually not the case. More often than not, there are certain triggers that cause one to have a mental illness. Some people may see certain warning signs and choose to do nothing about them. Others may not even be aware that there are warning signs. Researchers have found that half of all mental illnesses begins by the age of 14 and 75% begin by the age of 24. This is why it's vitally important for parents to be aware of some of the warning signs of mental illness. Some of the more common warning signs include loss of interest in others, problems with concentration, feeling disconnected, nervousness, unusual behavior, changes in one's sleep patterns or appetite, and dramatic mood changes.
Can You Prevent Mental Illness?
Thanks to increased awareness, there are more people who are beginning to understand mental illnesses and know the warning signs. These are both crucial elements to getting people the help they need. One way that awareness is being increased is by wearing a colored wristband; for example, a green wristband is usually the color used to promote mental health awareness and support. While you can't prevent a mental illness in the same way that you can prevent a disease, if you can intervene early to get a person with a mental illness the support and treatment that they need, it increases the odds that they will successfully manage their symptoms and minimize the risk of dangerous behaviors or suicide. Self-care is especially important for those with a mental illness, include getting adequate sleep, saying no to drugs and alcohol, and keeping up with their prescribed treatment regimen.
How Mental Illness Can Be Treated
If one is diagnosed with a mental illness, there are usually many treatment options available. Psychotherapy and prescription drugs are the more traditional approaches to treating a mental illness. Some alternative types of treatment have also been successful. Some of these alternative approaches include dietary changes, stress-reduction techniques, or brain stimulation treatments. The good news is that there are effective forms of treatment for nearly every kind of mental illness.
The Importance of Mental Health
The prevalence of mental illnesses in the United States should make people realize just how important mental health is. It is crucial to care for the mind and one's psychological and emotional well-being. In doing so, they will reap benefits that can include improving their quality of life, having healthier relationships, making good life choices, maintaining their physical health, and discovering their potential. If more people sought to improve their mental health, it would most likely result in less strain on families and less crime and victimization. Taking care of one's mental health should begin as early as childhood. When one makes a priority out of caring for their mental well-being, it can decrease the chances of being diagnosed with a mental illness and needing professional treatment.