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Mental Illness

You aren't alone. If you think that someone you love has a mental illness, you are not alone.  More than 20% of adult Americans experience some form of mental illness during the course of a year.   2.8% of the population in a year (about 5 million adult Americans in 1990) suffer from severe mental disorders-disorders with psychotic symptoms such as bipolar disorder, schizo-affective disorder and schizophrenia.

Mental illness makes it hard for people to cope with their emotions or think clearly.   It can cause them to behave in unusual or inappropriate ways.  It can bring untold suffering to families.

A first step to mental wellness is recognizing there's a problem and realizing your family can get help.

Mental illness is a medical illness. Like diabetes or muscular dystrophy, mental illness is no one's "fault." It appears to be caused by imbalances of chemicals in the brain. Stress, heredity, medical illness, and physical injury to the brain are also thought to be factors in causing mental disorders. Ordinarily, people can handle the problems and stresses of daily living by themselves.  Sometimes, during extremely stressful situations, like the loss of a loved one, they may seek professional assistance to help them cope.  If someone you love has a mental illness, you may need to seek professional assistance to help your family cope.

Some signs that may indicate that you need to ask for help include:

  • Tension, anxiety or fear that's almost constant and seems out of proportion to the situation.
  • Depression, loss of confidence, withdrawing from friends and activities, or hopelessness that doesn't go away.
  • Changes in mood or behavior that are abrupt and that are radical departures from usual patterns.
  • Complaints, such as headaches or nausea, that seem to have no explainable physical cause.

Remember that you and/or your family don't have to go it alone.  There are treatments and counselors available to help you or your loved one.

There are different types of metal illness such as:


Treating mental illness:

Help is available.  There are many different kinds of therapy. Appropriate treatment will be selected according to the diagnosis and severity of illness.

For some people, psychosocial therapy or social support is what is needed. For other people, psychosocial therapy and medication are prescribed, for example, in sever disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia. 

There are many types of medication available. Getting the appropriate medication depends on getting an accurate diagnosis from a qualified professional .

There are many forms of psychosocial therapy; including group and family therapy, marital counseling, recreational therapy, and occupational therapy.  These various therapies can help people with family relationships, communication skills, skills for daily living, and social and job skills. 

In some situations, treatment may take place at home, or in a group setting in the community. In other situations, hospitalization may be needed. Getting appropriate treatment depends on getting an accurate diagnosis from a qualified professional.