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What is Mental Illness? Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

What is Mental IllnessMental illness is a spectrum of conditions that affect a person’s ability to think, this article will discuss the types of mental illness, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options available. 

 As it is important to take care of your physical self, and your external body, it is as important to take care of your mental health. Usually, we forget to give importance to how we are feeling and how we are behaving with others and ourselves. But it is the most essential thing to take care of. We usually confuse mental health problems and mental illnesses with random mood swings or any kind of situational problems. But the problem is really serious. There are various types of mental illnesses, about which we rarely know and pay attention to. Some of the major mental illnesses that can be found occurring commonly are mentioned below.

Anxiety Disorder:

Anxiety disorders have symptoms that match some of the common feelings we experience in our regular living. Like some common feelings are feeling anxiety while something new and unknown is going to happen, panicking when something unexpected happens or a sudden hike in the heart rate. Besides, feeling scared or nervous before performing something very important. These symptoms are so common with every one of us, that we rarely think about them being serious even if their frequency of occurrence increases. This makes the disorder a serious one as it hampers our ability to think clearly and keeps us unknown of the problem we are facing. Some of the common terms included under this type of disorder are general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and several forms of phobias.

Mood Disorder:

Like anxiety disorders, mood disorders are also among the most common types of mental illnesses. Usually, they are confused with normal feelings and are ignored but actually, they are of quite importance. In this condition, the patient starts to feel extremities in his feelings. Either he feels too happy or sometimes too sad. Some of the common mood disorders include depression and bipolar disorder.

Personality Disorder:

Under this type of disorder, the patient suffers from extreme mood swings. He fails to adjust to the situation and often ends up making the situation with others at the home, workplace, or in public places very distressful. Usually, the thinking pattern and the behavioral nature of the patient change and he starts behaving quite abnormally. They start showing some unusual traits and anti-social behaviors.

Addiction Disorder:

This is a very unhealthful form of mental disorder. In this condition, the patient suffers from addictions either to alcohol or drugs or to some unethical activities. Some of such includes gambling. These addictions make them forget about their responsibilities and affect their relationships with their close ones.

Eating Disorder:

Under this disorder, the eating behavior of the patient is affected. It involves extreme changes both in the mood and the emotions of the patient. Some of the common problems associated with this condition include bulimia nervosa, binge eating, and anorexia nervosa. Apart from the above-discussed mental illnesses, there are also various other less identified and less treated mental illnesses. Some of them are mentioned below.


This is a kind of psychotic disorder. In this condition, the patient faces many events of delusions and hallucinations. Their ability to think is impaired and they fail to identify the importance of any situation. Usually, this disorder occurs in old age, but nowadays cases of early adulthood are also found. 

Sexual disorders:

In this condition, the tendency for sexual problems rises. The patient may suffer from sexual dysfunction, lack of sex drive, or many more.

Somatic symptom disorder:

In this condition, the patient feels too distressing thinking about some physical symptoms he is facing. He thinks that some serious disease is underlying the symptoms but the actual diagnosis fails to identify any disease.

Adjustment disorder:

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This is one of the common problems that occur due to some accidents. In this condition, the patient usually attaches himself emotionally to some sudden accident and becomes depressed thinking about it constantly. But this disorder usually doesn’t last long. Within the passing 6 months of the accident, the symptoms start to fade away.

Symptoms of mental illnesses

Having known about the various prevailing mental illnesses, now let us know about the symptoms of mental illnesses. These symptoms are the ones, that first gives the single of any underlying problem. So, it’s essential to identify them to help them get the condition treated well before it gets worse. Hence, most of the common symptoms accompanying mental illnesses are mentioned below.

  • Always feeling gloomy
  • Facing extreme mood swings
  • Too many changes in the way you used to eat
  • Beginning of suicidal thoughts
  • Excessive addiction to drugs or alcohol
  • Feeling withdrawn or alone
  • Unable to think clearly or take decisions properly
  • Frequent clashes with your loved ones or inability to understand others’ feelings
  • The frequent rise in a heartbeat whenever something unknown is coming, getting anxious too much and too easily

Now we know, how to identify if we are suffering from any mental illness. But this is not all that is needed to find the type of mental illness you are suffering from. For this, it is essential to go through a proper diagnosis. Only after a complete and thorough diagnosis, the type of mental illness can be detected. Hence, in the article to follow, let us know how mental illness can be diagnosed.

Diagnosis of Mental Illnesses

The complete diagnosis of mental illness is not possible with just one consultation with the psychiatrist. It takes a series of methods and appointments to find out the real reason behind the underlying illness. Usually, the methods of diagnosis use a physical examination by the doctor. In this, the patient is asked about his symptoms to list out the other possible physical illnesses. Then he may be asked to perform some lab tests.  Alongside, the doctor can ask you to fill up a questionnaire or ask you several verbal questions to know about your psychological state. This includes your thoughts, behavior, and feelings. Then based on a few sessions and proper consultation with a team of psychiatrists, any patient is diagnosed with any specific mental illness.

Treatments for Mental Illnesses

Having known in brief about the ways to diagnose mental illness now let us also have a look at how can we treat them. Our common conception regarding the treatment of any mental illness is to go to a psychiatrist. It is the right approach but it is not the only one. The psychiatrist is the person who has achieved the governmental or legal license to prescribe medicines for the treatment of mental illnesses. But there are also other peoples and groups available who can help you with the treatment. Just the difference is they can’t prescribe drugs to you. But they can help you emotionally, and physically and try to make you feel better. Some such helpers or practitioners include psychologists, counselors, nurses, peer support group professionals, and many more.

These people are professionals to work with you on the ground level to help you treat the illness, but the medical work can only be performed by licensed psychiatrists. Besides, each one of these professionals is eligible to perform psychotherapies to help you get well soon. Even though medicines are always the priority to treat illnesses, sometimes other methods can be also useful. Some of the effective ways to treat mental illnesses are mentioned below.


Medication is the most preferred method used by psychiatrists to treat a mental illness. The type and the dose of medicine to be prescribed depends on the symptoms of the patient and his state of severity. Besides, the prescription of medicines can also happen in combination with other psychotherapy. Some of the common medications used by psychiatrists to treat the illness are mentioned below.

  • Mood stabilizers
  • Anti-depressants
  • Anti-anxiety medicines
  • Antipsychotics

Psychiatric hospitalization

This method of treatment is preferred in very rare conditions. This can be opted for either by the patient himself or by the people around him. In this method, the patient is hospitalized in hospitals with a physiatrist facility. There they are administered with medications, monitoring, intake of fluids and nutrition, and also the stability of their condition.

Not everyone with mental illness is treated in this method. Only those who suffer from the following symptoms are prescribed for involuntary admission to psychiatric hospitals.

  • Getting a series of hallucinations
  • Suicidal tendency
  • Not eating and sleeping for many days
  • Unable to care for others due to mental instability


Psychotherapy also called talk therapy is one of the most widely used therapy to treat any kind of mental health problem, not just mental illnesses. In this process of therapy, the patient is made to sit either alone or with others with the same problems or different problems in a group with the therapist. During each session of the therapy, each one of the patients is given chance to speak about how they are feeling and if they want to share something with everyone. Then after listening to each one, the therapists themselves help them with the ways they can use to cope with their problems. Besides, it is not that talk therapy only helps for mental illnesses, they are also helpful for treating normal mood problems and stressful situations.

Psychotherapy is of many types. Some of the commonly used ones are mentioned below.

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Cognitive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy is among the most effective methods used to treat mental illness. In this method, the patient is made to go on anesthesia and then a series of electric shocks are delivered to his / her brain through the electrodes attached to the brain. Even though this therapy has no serious complications or side effects associated with them, it can cause little seizures in the brain and also temporary memory loss. Mostly this method of treatment is employed to treat severe cases of depression. All the methods of treating mental illnesses are divided into actually two groups based on the drug engagement and only use of therapy. When the treatment method uses drugs to treat the patient then it is called somatic treatment. When the treatment method when works only on behavioral changes, psychotherapy, and hypnotherapy, then they are known as the psychotherapeutic treatment methods. Usually based on the requirement of the mental illness and the condition of the patient, any one of the two methods can be applied. But usually, a combination of both in balance can do wonders. Most of the successful cases of treatment of mental illnesses show the combined use of both methods.


The mental health and fitness of an individual is the major parameter in finding out the effectiveness of his / her living. In case you are feeling always sad, anxious, and nervous or are facing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, then it’s the call for you to visit a psychiatrist. Mental illnesses never mean you are crazy or mad, it is just a condition of the body that needs some care and treatment to get well soon again. Anything related to the mind is very essential. We can take medicines for fever or cold, but should never self-diagnose ourselves or others for medicines for mental illness treatment. The medicines given to a particular patient vary a lot in various aspects from others. 

Doze on one patient can’t be prescribed to another, so it is very important to take medicines only after proper consulation and an appointment with the psychiatrist. Medical treatments can’t be self-prescribed but psychotherapy can be. You can join any peer support group or share your feelings of distress or problems with someone you trust a lot. Besides, you can help someone facing the same issues by talking to them or giving them time. So, it is very important at the time, that we start understanding the values of mental health and treat mental illnesses as important ones. So, next time whenever you feel like facing mental health issues or find someone known facing the same, make sure to contact a psychiatrist and get treatment started soon. The early start of the treatment will help a lot to get back to normal life soon. This will also help you enjoy your life and the company of your loved ones.

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