Mental health issues are something that affect millions of people in the United States and far more around the world. There are shorter-term mental health concerns, as well as long-term disorders that have to be treated similarly to chronic disorders.
Mental health is a broad term that refers to our psychological well-being, but also our emotions and our social health and well-being. Mental health affects how you think, how you feel and how you behave. It also plays a primary role in how you handle certain situations in life, including stress, and your interpersonal relationships with other people. Our decision-making is driven primarily by our mental health as well.
If you have a mental health disorder, it can affect your mood, your thinking and your outward behavior.
Certain factors play a prominent role in mental health. These include biological and genetic factors, life experiences, and family history.
Signs and Symptoms of a Mental Health Problem
While there are many specific mental health disorders and problems some of the general signs and symptoms someone could be experiencing an issue affecting their mental health include:
- Changes in sleep patterns or unusual sleep habits such as sleeping too much or too little or sleeping at strange times
- Unusual eating habits and patterns, such as eating too much or too little
- Low energy levels
- The feeling of being emotionally numb or as if nothing matters
- Pain that’s unexplained
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Self-medicating with the use of drugs or alcohol
- Problems with family and loved ones
- Intense mood swings that affect relationships and other areas of a person’s life
- Feeling fearful, anxious, edgy or angry
- Having recurring thoughts that you can’t get rid of
- Believing things that aren’t true or hearing voices that aren’t there
- Thoughts of self-harm
- Problems functioning in daily life
What Are the Most Common Mental Health Disorders?
It’s estimated that around 1 in 5 adults will experience some form of mental illness annually. This means that nearly 44 million people will have symptoms of a mental illness in any given year.
Some of the mental health disorders people are most commonly diagnosed with include:
Depression is more than just feeling occasionally sad. Depression is a diagnosable mental health condition that’s one of the most common in the U.S. There are short-term and situational forms of depression that can occur, for example, if you lose a loved one.
There are also long-term forms of depression.
Depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is a medical illness causing sadness but it also affects a person’s functionality. Someone with depression will lose the motivation to participate in daily activities.
Depression is a broad term and there are different types. For example, some of the specific types of depression can include:
- Post-partum depression
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Psychotic depression
Along with depression, anxiety is among the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders. Anxiety is persistent ongoing worry or fears that interfere with daily life and activities. Among the different types of anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety disorder appears to be the most common.
Other types of anxiety disorders include panic disorder, specific phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Most people with treated anxiety are able to function well and enjoy a fulfilling life, but it may require a combination of medication and psychotherapy such as behavioral therapy.
Eating disorders can start when a person is still a child or an adolescent, but some people don’t experience symptoms until they’re adults. Eating disorders are associated with very extreme thoughts, feelings or behaviors relating to food as well as body image and weight.
Anorexia is one specific eating disorder where a person will limit their food and caloric intake to the point that it can become very dangerous or even deadly. Someone with anorexia might experience malnourishment and symptoms such as hair loss as a result of the disorder.
Bulimia nervosa is another form of an eating disorder. With bulimia, the person will binge eat in an out-of-control way, and as a way to combat the compulsive eating, the person will vomit. Bulimia can cause severe physical damage to the person’s body including tooth decay and facial swelling.
Substance abuse is a mental health disorder, and there are varying levels. For example, a person can be diagnosed with mild, moderate or severe substance abuse. As with other chronic disorders, substance abuse often becomes more severe the longer someone goes without receiving treatment.
When someone has a substance abuse or addiction problem, they are unable to control their behavior. Their use of a substance or even their engaging in a certain behavior can become problematic and cause negative effects throughout an affected person’s life.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD)
Attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder leads to symptoms that cause a person to feel unable to focus or concentrate on tasks. People are often diagnosed with ADD or ADHD as children.
Reasons that a person may develop these mental health disorders include genetics and hereditary factors as well as brain injuries. Certain foods or drinks can trigger the symptoms or make them worse as well. This includes sugar and caffeine.
Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders
If someone has a substance use disorder, they may also be diagnosed with another mental health disorder. These are called co-occurring disorders or dual disorders.
It’s not uncommon for someone with a substance use disorder to be diagnosed with another mental health disorder, and it’s important that both are fully treated and managed for the best outcomes. It’s estimated that eight million adults in the U.S. have a mental illness along with a substance use disorder.
Learn more about not only mental health disorders, but also taking care of your mental health, and receiving treatment for any mental health symptoms or disorders you may have. There are not only pharmaceutical treatments for certain symptoms of mental health disorders, but also natural and alternative treatment options that can be explored.