A person’s psychological, emotional, and social well-being are all included in their behavioural health, also referred to as mental health. It affects how you feel, act, think, and interact with others. How you handle stress is also influenced by your mental health. Throughout your life, from childhood to adulthood, it plays a crucial role.
What is a mental health disorder?
Mental illnesses or abnormalities of the mind have an impact on behaviour and thought. They can alter your attitude and make it challenging to carry out daily tasks at home, at work, at school, or in your community.
It’s crucial to understand that having a behavioural health condition doesn’t always follow from having poor mental health. You can also have a behavioural health disorder and still go through long periods of good mental health.
Many people occasionally experience problems with their mental health. However, a mental health issue turns into a mental disease when persistent symptoms put you under a lot of stress and impair your capacity to perform daily tasks.
A clinically significant impairment in a person’s intellect, emotional control, or behaviour is what is known as a mental disorder. It is typically linked to distress or functional impairment in key areas. Mental diseases come in many different forms. Mental health issues are another name for mental disorders. The latter is a more general phrase that encompasses mental illnesses, psychosocial impairments, and (other) mental states connected to considerable distress, functional disability, or danger of self-harm.
Although there are effective methods for both prevention and therapy, the majority of those who suffer from mental illnesses do not have access to them. Numerous individuals also endure stigma, prejudice, and human rights violations.
Different types of mental health disorders
There are more than 200 types of mental health disorders. A few of the most common types of mental health disorders include:
- Anxiety disorders.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Autism spectrum disorder.
- Depression, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders.
- Disruptive behavior disorders, such as oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder.
- Eating disorders.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
- Substance use disorders, including drug addiction and alcohol use disorder.
Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances, and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.
Examples of signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy, or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia, or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Major changes in eating habits
- Sex drive changes
- Excessive anger, hostility, or violence
- Suicidal thinking
Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained aches and pains.
What causes mental health disorders?
The reasons of behavioural health issues are numerous. They could be the outcome of unusual genes. Your genes could alter throughout your life, or you could inherit them from your parents. Mental disease can also be brought on by chemical abnormalities in the brain.
Behavioural health disorders in children tend to affect their functioning. They may show the following signs:
- Changes in their performance at school, or how they interact with other children.
- Disinterest in activities or hobbies they used to enjoy.
- Excessive worry or anxiety, such as fear of going to bed.
- Frequent temper tantrums, disobedience, or aggression.
- Hyperactive behaviour, such as problems concentrating or sitting still.
Who is at risk of developing a mental disorder?
A wide range of individual, family, community, and structural elements can work together to support or jeopardise mental health at any one time. Even while the majority of people are resilient, those who are exposed to unfavourable conditions, such as poverty, violence, disability, and inequality, are more at risk. Individual psychological and biological characteristics, such as emotional skills and heredity, are risk and protective factors. Changes in brain structure and/or function have an impact on many risk and protective variables.
How are mental health disorders diagnosed?
It’s crucial to receive a diagnosis from a medical professional with expertise in behavioural health conditions. To get the best care, you need a precise diagnosis.
A healthcare provider will carefully review your symptoms to evaluate your mental health. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider:
- If there are any specific triggers that make your mental health worse.
- If your mental health problems are chronic (ongoing) or if they come and go.
- When you first noticed changes in your mental health.
There are no diagnostic medical procedures for mental diseases. But in order to rule out other disorders that may have an impact on your mental health, your doctor may order tests like blood work or imaging studies.
It is not always obvious whether a problem with mood or thinking has gotten bad enough to need attention from mental health professionals. When a person loses a loved one, for instance, a low or melancholy mood may be normal now. However, if the person’s depressive state persists or interferes with daily activities, they may benefit from medical attention. A person may not see changes or issues in themselves, but family or friends may notice them.
Some mental disorders can be connected to or imitate a physical ailment. For instance, a thyroid problem may be related to depressive symptoms. Consequently, a complete health evaluation, including a physical exam, is frequently part of a mental health diagnosis. Tests on the nervous system or blood work may be part of this.
Many people are deterred from obtaining necessary therapy due to the stigma surrounding mental illness and its treatment.
Treatment & Self-help:
Treatment is not always necessary just because a mental condition has been diagnosed. The severity of the symptoms, their impact on daily life and ability to function, risks and advantages of current treatments, and other factors (such as psychiatric symptoms worsening other conditions) are all considered when determining if treatment is necessary.
The foundation of mental health treatment is an individual plan created in collaboration between a mental health practitioner and the patient (and if the patient so chooses family members). It might also involve medicine, other therapies, or talk therapy. Most often, a regimen of both therapy and medicine works well. Alternative and complementary therapies are also being employed more frequently.
Medication: Medication for some mental diseases, like antidepressants and antipsychotics, works well. These drugs alter the molecules in your brain, reducing the symptoms you experience. It’s crucial to take the prescription exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Never stop taking mental health medication without first talking to your doctor.
Psychotherapy: You can manage the symptoms of a mental illness and work through its obstacles by speaking with a mental health specialist. Psychotherapy can take place in a group environment or one-on-one with a healthcare professional. CBT is an approach of psychotherapy known as cognitive behavioural therapy. It focuses on assisting you in altering unfavourable habits of mind and action.
Alternative therapies: Alternative remedies may help some mental problems, like depression. Herbal treatments, massages, acupuncture, yoga, and meditation are a few examples. Before using any herbal cures or supplements, consult your doctor. Other medicines might be impacted by them.
Brain stimulation therapies: Not all disorders respond well to treatment. In that situation, your doctor might suggest brain stimulation treatments. These therapies alter how your brain’s nerves and other cells process chemicals and react to stimuli. Examples include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroconvulsive treatment.
Self-help and assistance can be crucial to a person’s ability to cope, heal, and maintain their well-being. Good nutrition, regular exercise, and enough sleep with good sleep hygiene are examples of lifestyle modifications that can assist mental health and recovery. Individual acts that promote healing and well-being may be included in a complete treatment plan, such as dietary adjustments, participation in support groups, or exercise.
Primary care physicians, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals assist patients and their families in understanding mental diseases and how to manage their symptoms to enhance their health, wellbeing, and functioning.