Causes, Warning Signs, And Treatment Options For Mental Illness

Mental illness is significantly more common than most people believe. In fact, about 1 in 5 adults is diagnosed with a mental illness in any given year.

Mental illness can begin at any age from childhood through later adult years, but interestingly enough, most cases begin earlier in life. The term “mental illness” encompasses a wide range of health conditions. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. While many people have mental health concerns from time to time, a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function throughout your day.

What Are The Causes of Mental Illnesses?

While mental illnesses can be caused by a variety of sources, mental illnesses are believed to generally be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors.

Inherited Traits

Mental illness is significantly more common in people whose immediate relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness. This means if one of your relatives has been diagnosed with a known mental illness, you should take extra precautions and talk to your primary caregiver regarding warning signs and symptoms.

Environmental Exposures

Another known cause of mental illness is environmental exposures, typically before birth. Exposure to toxins, alcohol, or drugs while in the womb have all been linked to different types of mental illnesses.

Brain Chemistry

A person’s brain chemistry is one of the leading causes of mental illness. 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. This understandably can lead to depression and other related emotional disorders.

What Are The Warning Signs Of 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. Unlike diabetes or cancer, there is currently no medical test that can accurately diagnose mental illness. A mental health professional might use what is called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association to assess symptoms. But such diagnoses are not as definite as normal, physical health diagnoses.

Since there is not a clear-cut method for diagnosing, mental health professionals often rely on apparent warning signs and symptoms for determining if someone has a mental illness. These symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Some of the most common warning signs and symptoms of mental illnesses according to the Mayo Clinic are:

  • 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

If you are seeing the warning signs of a mental illness, you should 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.

Warning Signs To Look For In Children

Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because children are still learning to identify and talk about their thoughts and emotions, the most obvious symptoms of adolescent mental illnesses are apparent through behavior. Symptoms in children may include the following:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Excessive worrying or anxiety—fighting to avoid bed or school
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Of course, all of these symptoms can also be attributed to normal adolescent behavior. So, you should watch for a marked change in behavior in your child or a consistent pattern that doesn’t seem to be going away.

Knowing warning signs to look for in yourself and your children can help you know if you need to speak to a professional. A health care provider can help develop a treatment plan that could include medication, therapy, or other lifestyle changes.

What are the Treatment Options for Mental Illnesses?

Mental illnesses are health conditions that involve changes in emotion, thinking, or behavior. While there are not exactly cures for mental illnesses, there are many effective treatment options for a variety of mental disorders. Remember, mental health conditions can be harder to treat if you wait until your symptoms get worse. You should start by consulting your primary healthcare provider and discussing the possible treatment options for your specific mental health illness.

Treatment plans will look different depending on your diagnosis and depending on what treatment plans suit your individual lifestyle. Additionally—to the best of your ability—take care of yourself. Sufficient sleep, healthy eating, and regular physical exercise have been known to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with mental illnesses. This is not an attempt to simplify the gravity of mental illness. However, taking these extra steps on top of seeing a health care professional has been proven to alleviate some of the symptoms of mental illnesses.

If you live in the Kosciusko area, there are many amazing resources available to you if you believe you are suffering from a mental illness. The Bowen Center provides comprehensive care and treatment for people struggling with substance use disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and much more. LifeTouch Ministries and Counseling Center, McArthur Counseling Center, LifeWorks Counseling and Consulting, and Mitchell Counseling and Consulting are just a few of the reputable mental health services in the Warsaw area.

If you are experiencing the adverse effects of a mental illness—seek help now. This is not a path you should have to walk alone.

Take Care Of Yourself

If your mental wellbeing is at the top of your priority list, you might have pressing questions about your health insurance. If you are from the Kosciusko area and have any questions about your health insurance options, set up a time to meet with insurance agent, Michael Suhany. With his years of experience, he can walk you through various insurance plans and find one that prioritizes your long-term mental care. Contact him today to set up an appointment.