Mental illnesses and symptoms
Mental illness - Symptoms and causes
Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.
Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.
A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and talk therapy (psychotherapy).
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Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
Examples of signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Major changes in eating habits
- Sex drive changes
- Excessive anger, hostility or violence
- Suicidal thinking
Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained aches and pains.
When to see a doctor
If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness, see your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Most mental illnesses don't improve on their own, and if untreated, a mental illness may get worse over time and cause serious problems.
If you have suicidal thoughts
Suicidal thoughts and behavior are common with some mental illnesses. If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, get help right away:
- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Call your mental health specialist.
- Call a suicide hotline number. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
- Seek help from your primary care provider.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.
Suicidal thinking doesn't get better on its own — so get help.
Helping a loved one
If your loved one shows signs of mental illness, have an open and honest discussion with him or her about your concerns. You may not be able to force someone to get professional care, but you can offer encouragement and support. You can also help your loved one find a qualified mental health professional and make an appointment. You may even be able to go along to the appointment.
If your loved one has done self-harm or is considering doing so, take the person to the hospital or call for emergency help.
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Mental illnesses, in general, are thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors:
- Inherited traits. Mental illness is more common in people whose blood relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation may trigger it.
- Environmental exposures before birth. Exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness.
- Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression and other emotional disorders.
Certain factors may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, including:
- A history of mental illness in a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling
- Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one's death or a divorce
- An ongoing (chronic) medical condition, such as diabetes
- Brain damage as a result of a serious injury (traumatic brain injury), such as a violent blow to the head
- Traumatic experiences, such as military combat or assault
- Use of alcohol or recreational drugs
- A childhood history of abuse or neglect
- Few friends or few healthy relationships
- A previous mental illness
Mental illness is common. About 1 in 5 adults has a mental illness in any given year. Mental illness can begin at any age, from childhood through later adult years, but most cases begin earlier in life.
The effects of mental illness can be temporary or long lasting. You also can have more than one mental health disorder at the same time. For example, you may have depression and a substance use disorder.
Mental illness is a leading cause of disability. Untreated mental illness can cause severe emotional, behavioral and physical health problems. Complications sometimes linked to mental illness include:
- Unhappiness and decreased enjoyment of life
- Family conflicts
- Relationship difficulties
- Social isolation
- Problems with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs
- Missed work or school, or other problems related to work or school
- Legal and financial problems
- Poverty and homelessness
- Self-harm and harm to others, including suicide or homicide
- Weakened immune system, so your body has a hard time resisting infections
- Heart disease and other medical conditions
There's no sure way to prevent mental illness. However, if you have a mental illness, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and to boost low self-esteem may help keep your symptoms under control. Follow these steps:
- Pay attention to warning signs. Work with your doctor or therapist to learn what might trigger your symptoms. Make a plan so that you know what to do if symptoms return. Contact your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes in symptoms or how you feel. Consider involving family members or friends to watch for warning signs.
- Get routine medical care. Don't neglect checkups or skip visits to your primary care provider, especially if you aren't feeling well. You may have a new health problem that needs to be treated, or you may be experiencing side effects of medication.
- Get help when you need it. Mental health conditions can be harder to treat if you wait until symptoms get bad. Long-term maintenance treatment also may help prevent a relapse of symptoms.
- Take good care of yourself. Sufficient sleep, healthy eating and regular physical activity are important. Try to maintain a regular schedule. Talk to your primary care provider if you have trouble sleeping or if you have questions about diet and physical activity.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
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Know the Warning Signs | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn't always easy. There's no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness.
Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:
- Changes in school performance
- Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
- Hyperactive behavior
- Frequent nightmares
- Frequent disobedience or aggression
- Frequent temper tantrums
Where to Get Help
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step.
Reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor or state/county mental health authority for more resources.
Contact the NAMI HelpLine to find out what services and supports are available in your community.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Receiving a Diagnosis
Knowing warning signs can help let you know if you need to speak to a professional. For many people, getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in a treatment plan.
Unlike diabetes or cancer, there is no medical test that can accurately diagnose mental illness. A mental health professional will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, to assess symptoms and make a diagnosis. The manual lists criteria including feelings and behaviors and time limits in order to be officially classified as a mental health condition.
After diagnosis, a health care provider can help develop a treatment plan that could include medication, therapy or other lifestyle changes.
Getting a diagnosis is just the first step; knowing your own preferences and goals is also important. Treatments for mental illness vary by diagnosis and by person. There’s no “one size fits all” treatment. Treatment options can include medication, counseling (therapy), social support and education.
SIGNS OF MENTAL DISORDERS (WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR)
Signs of mental disorders, and also the frequency of their occurrence is a common question, exciting people in recent years. This is especially true in connection with the fact that the pace of life is steadily growing, and the resources of human nervous system remain unchanged. Very often mental violations develop gradually, stepwise, introducing features into the psyche a person who was previously not peculiar to him, respectively, there are good chances to notice them in time and provide proper medical care.
According to the latest data, mental disorders are detected in 25-30% of the population, that is, one in four in the world. However, it is noteworthy that while 75-80% are sick non-psychotic, mild mental disorders. serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia occur in 6-17% cases. Alcoholism - in 60%.
It must be remembered that mental disorder is not a sentence, because with sufficient and timely treatment by a specialist, as well as a responsible attitude and attention to their condition, the symptoms of mental disorders can be stopped, (and often the disorder itself can be completely cured), which will help to maintain the former social, professional status and quality of life.
This condition may accompany any mental disorders and many of the somatic diseases. Asthenia expressed in weakness, low performance, mood swings, increased sensitivity. A person starts crying easily, instantly gets irritated and loses his temper. Often asthenia is accompanied sleep disturbances, feeling of weakness, increased fatigue, inability to cope with the usual workload, study.
A wide range of obsessions includes many manifestations: from constant doubts, unpleasant thoughts, "stuck, spinning in the head", fears with which a person does not able to cope, to an irresistible desire for purity or performing certain unusual actions. Under the control of the obsessive state, a person can return home several times in order to check whether he turned off the iron, gas, water, whether he closed the door with a key. An obsessive fear of an accident can force the patient to perform some rituals that, according to the sufferer, can avert trouble. If you notice that your friend or relative washes his hands for hours, became overly squeamish and is always afraid of getting infected with something - this also obsession. The desire not to step on cracks in the asphalt, joints tiles, avoidance of certain modes of transport or people in clothing a certain color or type is also an obsessive state.
It is especially important to pay attention not to how much for short-term changes under the influence of momentary factors, how much for mood changes that were not previously characteristic a person, long-term, from 2 weeks or more.
- Longing, depression, longing for self-accusations, talk about their own worthlessness, sinfulness, about death, lack of future, hope for the best, etc.
- Unnatural frivolity, carelessness.
- Foolishness, not characteristic of age and character.
- Euphoric state, optimism without any basis.
- Apathy, painful feeling of lack of emotions.
- Fussiness, talkativeness, inability to concentrate, confused thinking.
- Irritability, anger, aggressiveness
- Inability to control emotions, tearfulness, slight breakdowns in conversation natural bashfulness, inability to restrain sexual desires or vice versa, the disappearance of libido, the absence of a morning erection in men
Unusual sensations in the body.
Stinging, burning in the skin, sensations burning, “twisting” pressure in the body, stirring “something inside”, "rustling in the head", the presence of foreign objects in the body - can signal disturbances in the nervous system.
Expressed in an obsessive, obsessive search for themselves of serious illnesses and disorders, painful "listening" to the slightest change in the state of your body. At the same time, the patient often does not trust doctors, requires repeated and deeper research, completely focused on finding difficult diseases, requires to be treated as a patient.
It is important to note how sudden increased appetite - "wolfish appetite", and its sharp decrease and perversion of taste preferences. The reason may be as in the disease gastrointestinal tract, and in the general depression of the state, or painful conviction of excessive fullness in its absence. Also it is important if previously tasty food has lost its taste, has become bland, tasteless, "like cardboard."
Do not confuse illusions with hallucinations. Illusions force a person to perceive real objects and phenomena in distorted form, while in hallucinations a person feels something that in reality does not exist.
Examples of illusions:
- the pattern on the wallpaper seems to be an interweaving of snakes or worms;
- sizes of objects are perceived in a distorted form;
- the sound of raindrops on the windowsill seems to be the careful steps of someone terrible;
- the shadows of the trees turn into terrible creatures crawling up with frightening intentions, etc.
Hallucinations not guess, then susceptibility to hallucinations can manifest itself more noticeable. Hallucinations can affect all the senses, that is be visual and auditory, tactile and gustatory, olfactory and common, as well as combined in any combination. To the sick all he is sees, hears and feels, seems completely real. He may not believe that all this is not felt, not heard, not seen by others. Them he can perceive bewilderment as a conspiracy, deceit, mockery, get irritated at not being understood.
- Auditory hallucinations human hears various kinds of noise, fragments of words or coherent phrases. Voices can give commands or comment on every action of the patient, laugh at him or discuss his thoughts.
- Taste and olfactory hallucinations often cause a sensation of an unpleasant quality: a disgusting taste or smell.
- For tactile hallucinations, the patient it seems that someone is biting him, touching him, strangling him, that they are crawling on him insects that some creatures are introduced into his body and there move or eat the body from the inside.
- Outwardly subject to hallucinations expressed in conversations with an invisible interlocutor, sudden laughter or constant intense listening to something. The patient can always to shake off something, to cry out, to examine oneself with preoccupied look or ask others if they see something on his body or in the surrounding space.
Changes in thinking
Previously uncharacteristic overestimation own abilities or abilities, confidence in one's own exclusivity, passion for esotericism, magic, suddenly appeared belief in the supernatural. The rate at which thoughts flow in the head can also change, or become uncomfortably slow, or so fast that sometimes it is very difficult to concentrate on one thought.
Delusional states often accompany psychoses. Delusion is based on erroneous judgments, and the patient stubbornly maintains its false belief, even if there are obvious contradictions with reality. Crazy ideas acquire significance that determines everything behavior. Delusional disorders can be expressed in an erotic form, or in the conviction of one's great mission, in descent from a noble kind or aliens. It may seem to the patient that someone is trying to kill or poison, rob or kidnap. Sometimes the development of delusional state is preceded by a feeling of unreality of the surrounding world or own personality.
There are people who are unsociable and unsociable in strength of his character. This is normal and should not arouse suspicion. mental disorders. But if a born merry fellow, the soul company, a family man and a good friend suddenly begins to destroy social connections, becomes unsociable, shows coldness towards those who have recently was dear to him - this is a reason to worry about his mental health. A person becomes sloppy, stops taking care of himself, maybe quit your job for no good reason, abandon your career, former goals and interests, in society can begin to behave shockingly - commit acts that are considered indecent and unacceptable.
Gathering or excessive generosity
Yes, any collector can be suspicion. Especially in cases where the gathering becomes obsession, subjugates the whole life of a person. It may expressed in the desire to drag into the house things found in the garbage, hoarding products without paying attention to expiration dates, or pick up stray animals in numbers that exceed the ability provide them with proper care and maintenance.
Desire to distribute all one's property, excessive spending can also be regarded as suspicious symptom. Especially in the case when a person was not different before generosity or altruism. Particular attention should be paid to this a condition, especially when a person begins to unexpectedly actively attend banks and make loans.
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- Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects approximately 24 million people, or 1 in 300 people worldwide.
- Schizophrenia causes psychosis, is associated with severe disability, and can negatively affect all areas of life, including personal, family, social, academic and work life.
- People with schizophrenia are often subject to stigma, discrimination and human rights violations.
- Globally, more than two thirds of people with psychosis do not receive specialized mental health care.
- There are a number of effective options for helping patients with schizophrenia, which can lead to a complete recovery of at least one in three patients.
Schizophrenia is characterized by significant disturbances in the perception of reality and behavioral changes, such as:
- persistent hallucinations: the patient hears, sees, touches non-existent things and smells non-existent smells;
- sensation of external influence, control or passivity: the presence in the patient of the sensation that his feelings, impulses, actions or thoughts are dictated from outside, put in or disappear from consciousness by someone else's will, or that his thoughts are broadcast to others;
- disorganized thinking, often expressed in incoherent or pointless speech;
- Significant disorganization of behavior, which manifests itself, for example, in the performance by the patient of actions that may seem strange or meaningless, or in an unpredictable or inappropriate emotional reaction that does not give the patient the opportunity to organization of their behavior;
- "negative symptoms" such as extreme poverty of speech, smoothness of emotional reactions, inability to feel interest or pleasure, social autism; and/or
- extreme arousal or, conversely, slowness of movement, freezing in unusual positions.
People with schizophrenia often also experience persistent cognitive or thinking problems that affect memory, attention, or problem-solving skills.
At least one third of patients with schizophrenia experience complete remission of symptoms (1). In some, periods of remission and exacerbation of symptoms follow each other throughout life, in others there is a gradual increase in symptoms.
Magnitude of the problem and impact
Schizophrenia affects approximately 24 million people, or 1 in 300 people (0.32%) worldwide. Among adults, the rate is 1 in 222 (0.45%) (2). Schizophrenia is less common than many other mental disorders. Onset is most common in late adolescence and between the ages of 20 and 30; while women tend to have a later onset of the disease.
Schizophrenia is often accompanied by significant stress and difficulties in personal relationships, family life, social contacts, studies, work or other important areas of life.
Individuals with schizophrenia are 2-3 times more likely to die early than the population average (2). It is often associated with physical illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, and infectious disease.
Patients with schizophrenia often become the object of human rights violations both within the walls of psychiatric institutions and in everyday life. Significant stigmatization of people with this disease is a widespread phenomenon that leads to their social isolation and has a negative impact on their relationships with others, including family and friends. This creates grounds for discrimination, which in turn limits access to health services in general, education, housing and employment.
Humanitarian emergencies and health crises can cause intense stress and fear, disrupt social support mechanisms, cause isolation and disrupt health services and supply of medicines. All these shocks can have a negative impact on the lives of people with schizophrenia, in particular by exacerbating existing symptoms of the disease. People with schizophrenia are more vulnerable during emergencies to various human rights violations and, in particular, face neglect, abandonment, homelessness, abuse and social exclusion.
Causes of schizophrenia
Science has not established any single cause of the disease. It is believed that schizophrenia may be the result of the interaction of a number of genetic and environmental factors. Psychosocial factors may also influence the onset and course of schizophrenia. In particular, heavy marijuana abuse is associated with an increased risk of this mental disorder.
The vast majority of people with schizophrenia do not currently receive mental health care worldwide. Approximately 50% of patients in psychiatric hospitals are diagnosed with schizophrenia (4). Only 31.3% of people with psychosis get specialized mental health care (5). Much of the resources allocated to mental health services are inefficiently spent on the care of patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals.
Available scientific evidence clearly indicates that hospitalization in psychiatric hospitals is not an effective way of providing care for mental disorders and is regularly associated with the violation of the basic rights of patients with schizophrenia. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure the expansion and acceleration of work on the transfer of functions in the field of mental health care from psychiatric institutions to the level of local communities. Such work should begin with the organization of the provision a wide range of quality community-based mental health services. Options for community-based mental health care include integrating this type of care into primary health care and hospital care. general care, setting up community mental health centres, outpatient care centres, social housing with nursing care and social home care services. Involvement in the care process is important the patient with schizophrenia, his family members and members of local communities.
Schizophrenia management and care
There are a number of effective approaches to treating people with schizophrenia, including medication, psychoeducation, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychosocial rehabilitation (eg, life skills education). The most important interventions for helping people with schizophrenia are assisted living, special housing and employment assistance. It is extremely important for people with schizophrenia and their families and/or caregivers to a recovery-centered approach that empowers people to participate in decisions about their care.
steps are in place to ensure that appropriate services are provided to people with mental disorders, including schizophrenia. One of the key recommendations The action plan is to transfer the function of providing assistance from institutions to local communities. WHO Special Mental Health Initiative aims to further progress towards the goals of the Comprehensive Plan mental health action 2013–2030 by ensuring that 100 million more people have access to quality and affordable mental health care.
The WHO Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP) is developing evidence-based technical guidelines, tools and training packages to scale up services in countries, especially in low-resource settings. The program focuses on a priority list of mental health disorders, including psychosis, and aims to strengthen the capacity of non-specialized health workers in as part of an integrated approach to mental health care at all levels of care. To date, the mhGAP Program has been implemented in more than 100 WHO Member States.
The WHO QualityRights project aims to improve the quality of care and better protect human rights in mental health and social care settings and to expand opportunities of various organizations and associations to defend the rights of persons with mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities.
The WHO guidelines on community mental health services and human rights-based approaches provide information for all stakeholders who intend to develop or transform mental health systems and services.