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What is Mental Health: An Introduction to Mental Health Disorders and Their Symptoms

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Mental health includes a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It impacts everything we do—how we think, feel, and behave. In addition, it plays a role in how we cope with stress, relate to other people, and make certain choices. As a result, mental health is essential at every stage in life, whether childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.

Mental health issues are on the rise, but luckily, help is available.

What Are the Symptoms of Mental Health Problems?

There are many different signs and symptoms of mental illness. How they show up depends on specific disorders, life situations, and other complex factors. Here are some of the most common symptoms that can signal a mental health issue:

  • Feeling sad or down often
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Excessive worrying or extreme guilt
  • Mood changes that go from intense highs to deep lows
  • Losing interest in things that were once enjoyable and isolated from loved ones
  • More fatigue than usual and lower energy
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations
  • Struggling to manage and cope with daily life or stress
  • Difficulty understanding and relating to circumstances and other people
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use, or substance abuse that interferes with daily functioning
  • Loss of appetite or increase in appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • More anger than usual which can result in hostility or violence
  • Suicidal thinking, ideation, or attempts

In addition, some symptoms of a mental health condition can manifest as physical issues, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, migraines, or other unexplained pain.

What Are the Types of Mental Health Conditions?

There are many different mental health conditions, each with unique symptoms. While there are many mental health disorders and varied types within categories, here are some of the broadest and most common ones:

Anxiety disorders

People living with one or more anxiety disorders generally experience fear and dread related to particular objects or situations. These disorders can also include physical symptoms of anxiety or panic, such as rapid heartbeat and sweating. To be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, an individual’s response must not be appropriate for a specific situation; for example, when a person cannot control her response or anxiety interferes with daily functioning. Some examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and disorders related to specific phobias.

Mood disorders

Mood disorders, also known as affective disorders, usually involve continual deep feelings of sadness (depression) or periods of extremely elevated mood (mania) or fluctuations between the two. The most common mood disorders are major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymic disorder.

Psychotic disorders

Psychotic disorders feature distorted awareness and thinking, with two of the most common symptoms: hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations are the experience of images or sounds that aren’t real (such as hearing voices). Delusions are false fixed beliefs that the person with the disorder thinks are true, even though it’s been proven that they’re not. One example of a psychotic disorder is Schizophrenia.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders occur when extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surround weight and food. Some examples of common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

Impulse control and addiction disorders

People with impulse control disorders struggle to resist urges and impulses. As a result, they may engage in acts that harm themselves or the people around them. Some examples include Pyromania (starting fires), kleptomania (stealing), and compulsive gambling. These are classified as impulse control disorders. Another common addiction involves substance use, whether alcohol, drugs, or other substances. Generally speaking, people with these disorders can become so involved with their addictions they begin to forego responsibilities and damage relationships.

Personality disorders

People diagnosed with a personality disorder usually have extreme and inflexible personality traits. These traits can be distressing to these individuals and the people around them and cause work, school, or relationships issues. The person’s thinking and behavior patterns can be much different from what society expects and are so rigid that they disrupt daily functioning. Some examples of personality disorders include borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and schizoid personality disorder.

Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders

Trauma and stressor-related disorders can develop after a traumatic or terrifying event. These events can include sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, a natural disaster, and many more. An example of a trauma or stressor-related disorder is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with PTSD can have lasting and frightening thoughts, flashbacks, or memories of the event.

What Causes Mental Health Issues?

Mental health issues can be caused by various factors or a combination of factors working together. Here are some common causes:

  • Genetics (heredity)
  • Infections, defects, or injuries linked to brain damage
  • Prenatal damage
  • Substance abuse
  • Exposure to toxins, such as lead

What Psychological Factors Are Linked to Mental Illness?

Psychological factors that can contribute to mental illness are as follows:

  • Severe psychological trauma experienced as a child, such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • A significant early loss, such as the death of a parent or caregiver
  • Emotional or physical neglect
  • Difficulty relating to others

What Environmental Factors Are Linked to Mental Illness?

Many environmental stressors can contribute to mental illness in a person or make symptoms worse in someone susceptible to mental illness. These include:

  • Death
  • Divorce
  • A dysfunctional family
  • Feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, or loneliness
  • A sudden change, such as changing jobs or schools
  • Social or cultural expectations from society (common in eating disorders)
  • Substance abuse either by the person or their parents or caregivers

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.

Contact a Resource Specialist

Author Bio: Anu is part of the Community team for LGBTQ and ALL, an inclusive online community for folks who live within the margins. Our community strives to uplift all its members, no matter their background. If you are an ally, a friend, family, partner, or chosen family, you can belong to this community.

Mental health can be manageable with the proper treatment. At LGBTQ and ALL, we provide a variety of mental health resources in one place so that you can find the treatment option that works best for your unique situation. Our database has many mental health resources specific to cities worldwide. In addition, we have many articles like this one dealing with mental health and strategies for coping.

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The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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