Mental illness is a term that refers collectively to all diagnosable biological brain disorders. As diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are disorders of the brain that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, moods, and ability to relate to others. The causes of these disorders are not yet completely understood, but scientific research has shown biochemical imbalances that interfere with normal brain processes. Although many other physical illnesses are diagnosable in the laboratory, at the present time mental illnesses are diagnosed by symptoms and functional impairments.
While there are no cures for mental illness, there is a wide range of pharmacological and psychotherapy treatments that relieve symptoms, improve functioning, and permit recovery of a fulfilling life. The treatment success rate for schizophrenia is about 60%, for major depression, 65%, and for bipolar disorder, 80%. For comparison, treatment success rates for cardiovascular diseases are 41-50%. Research is constantly providing new information about the brain and the nature of its disorders leading to the development of more effective treatments.
Mental illness is not the same as mental retardation. Those with mental retardation have a diminished intellectual capacity, usually present since birth. Those with mental illnesses are usually of normal or higher intelligence although they may have difficulty performing at a normal level due to their illness. Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age and can occur in any family.
Learn the warning signs of mental illness. Signs usually occur gradually and are lasting and severe. They include:
◘ Changes in daily routine (such as sleeping or eating more)
◘ Confused thinking or speech
◘ Denial (refusing to admit there may be a problem, or to seek help)
◘ Abuse of alcohol or other drugs
◘ Lasting depression
◘ Inability to cope with daily activities
◘ Mood swings
◘ Excessive fears, worries or anxiety
◘ Strong feelings of anger
◘ Suicidal thought or threats
◘ Withdrawal from family life, friends and usual activities.
Day by day…..
Step by step……
The mental health system….exacts a toll not only on individuals and their families, but on the nation and its economy as well – costing $63 billion annually in lost productivity alone.
-- The Presidentially-appointed New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.