Many adults see mental disorders as a rare affliction and something that would never happen to them, yet this is far from the truth. Mental disorders are extremely common and affect approximately 54 million Americans each year.
What is a mental disorder?
A mental disorder or mental illness is a disease that causes irregularities in the thoughts or behavior of the individual. These diseases can render ordinary errands or routines difficult, making life a harder process. Other possible symptoms include mood swings, uncharacteristic behavior or actions or social withdrawal.
There are over 200 kinds of mental disorder, ranging from the commonly referenced depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and dementia to complex cases that require an extended level of care.
Mental health issues can occur naturally due to genetics or biochemistry, or may develop due to environmental circumstances, for example when dealing with a stressful situation or job. They often have physical effects in addition to psychological ones, similar to diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
Upon learning that you or a family member have a mental illness or disorder, it can be hard to adjust to, causing both physical and emotional strain, leaving you vulnerable to judgement, insensitivity or confusion regarding your options. It is therefore important to have hope and remember that help is available for those who require it.
If you have not been diagnosed yet have concerns that you may have a mental disorder, there are signs you can look for that can help indicate whether you may be afflicted and whether it’s time to seek further help or advice.