Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and "happen to someone else.” In fact, mental disorders are common and widespread. An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a given year.
Most families are not prepared to cope with learning their loved one has a mental illness. It can be physically and emotionally trying, and can make us feel vulnerable to the opinions and judgments of others.If you think you or someone you know may have a mental or emotional problem, it is important to remember there is hope and help.
There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorder. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal. Addictive disorders are believed to be biologically based disorders as well.
Mental health problems may be related to excessive stress due to a particular situation or series of events. As with cancer, diabetes and heart disease, mental illnesses are often physical as well as emotional and psychological. Mental illnesses may be caused by a reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances, or a combination of these. With proper care and treatment many individuals learn to cope or recover from a mental illness, addiction or emotional disorder.
Mental health disorders are not character flaws. Treatment success for serious mental illnesses ranges from 60-80 percent, whereas the treatment success rate for heart disease ranges from only 41-52 percent. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1995)
The following are signs that your loved one may want to speak to a mental health professional.
Mental Health Signs and Symptoms in Adults:
Mental Health Signs and Symptoms in older children and pre-adolescents:
Mental Health Signs and Symptoms in younger children:
National Mental Health America has an extensive library online relating to mental health issues and illnesses. Click to read more.
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