Mental health refers to our emotional and psychological state, our social well–being and how we feel about ourselves and interact with others. Mental health is not the same as mental illness, although poor mental health can lead to mental and physical illnesses.
Many people have mental health issues from time to time, but it becomes mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect the ability to function.
Mental health disorders refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Mental disorders are patterns of behavioral or psychological symptoms that impact multiple areas of life. These disorders create distress for the person experiencing these symptoms.
Examples of mental illness:
Clinical depressionA mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.
Anxiety disorder A mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities
Bipolar disorder A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.
Dementia A group of thinking and social symptoms that interferes with daily functioning.
Alzheimer’s A progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder A chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
Schizophrenia A disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel, and behave clearly.
Obsessive compulsive disorder Excessive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
Autism A serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact.
PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) A disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.
Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Anosognosia “lack of insight,” is a symptom of severe mental illness experienced by some that impairs a person’s ability to understand and perceive his or her illness
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance