July is Mental Illness Awareness Month

In the past, the subject of mental illness was surrounded with mystery and fear. Today, we have made tremendous progress in our understanding and, especially in our ability to offer effective treatments. However, questions about mental illness often go unanswered and stand in the way of people receiving help.

Mental illness is a term used for any condition that affects a person’s mood, behavior or thoughts in a way that is distressing or impairs functioning. Some sources still refer to mental illness in ways like “disease of the mind,” a definition that promotes stigma. This type of attitude is more and more falling out of favor as researchers uncover the biological causes of mental illnesses.

The term “mental illness” is also used collectively to describe all mental disorders. Thus, one could say, “Bipolar disorder is a mental illness,” or “John has a mental illness,” which could mean any recognized mental disorder.

How Common is Mental Illness?

Mental illness is common and milder conditions are very common. One fifth of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder during any given year. One fifth of school-age children are also affected by these conditions. Severe and persistent mental illness is less common, but still afflicts three percent of the population.
The vast majority of individuals with mental disorders continue to function in their daily lives, although with varying impairments.

What are the Causes of Mental Illness?

The exact causes of mental disorders are unknown, but an explosive growth of research has brought us closer to the answers. Certain inherited dispositions interact with triggering environmental factors. Like physical illnesses, mental disorders can have a biological nature.

How Is Mental Illness Treated?

State of the art treatment for mental illness is very effective. But good treatment for mental illness takes a comprehensive approach. Medication is often not the only treatment for a chronic illness.

Psychiatric treatment involves a full mental and physical health evaluation and an individualized treatment plan, which may include psychotherapy (talk therapy), medication, or other modalities. Psychiatrists help patients understand illnesses and understand what they can do to resolve life problems that contribute to illnesses.

Psychiatrists see the necessity of working within a tailored approach for the treatment of their patients, often taking a hands-on approach to the whole fabric of the patient’s needs. Educational, medical, spiritual, and interpersonal as well as, basic issues such as adequate housing and nutrition are considered.

When you have a mental illness, you may not realize how important your overall health is to your recovery. Having poor overall health can get in the way and make recovery harder. Finding ways to take care of your health can aid your recovery and help you feel better overall. Here are some things you can do.

    •  Get the Care you Need

    •  Manage Stress

    •  Slow Down and Take One Thing at a Time

    •  Know Your Limits

    •  Talk to Someone

    •  Watch What You Eat

    •  Exercise

    •  Connect To Others

    •  Do Something You Enjoy

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