Mental Illness. A term that is becoming more prominent in headlines and the topic in social conversations. But what exactly is it?

It is, in most cases, a treatable condition, just like a physical illness. Psychologists and researchers of the human brain are conducting extensive analysis through various behavioral and physical examinations to help treat those diagnosed. Mental illness can affect one’s ability to fully function throughout their daily life. The illness can affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, and mood, and can take on a variety of forms and spectrum, appearing during any age.

Depression is a common, yet serious condition that affects a person’s life. It can show up intermittently, which can make it difficult to diagnose. Depression can leave a person feeling sad, anxious, guilty, worthless, or all the above all at once, which can be overwhelming and tough to get through the day. In the most severe cases, it can lead to suicide.

Many living with depression find it hard to do simple activities such as getting out of bed, meeting up with friends, and even eating and taking care of their physical health. Depression can cause a person to lose interest in activities or hobbies that once was enjoyable to them causing them to become isolated and further depressed. People who are depressed often find themselves having issues with rest, including insomnia, trouble falling or staying asleep, or even sleeping too much. These struggles can lead ultimately to physical fatigue and further increases the overall emptiness that plagues daily.

The nation continues to see an increase in people struggling with mental illnesses, with over 18% of adults, or roughly 43 million people, diagnosed with a mental health condition. This doesn’t include the number of youth, which has seen a tremendous increase in mental health illnesses. In fact, in just five years, depression in teenagers has increased from 5.9% to 8.2%. These escalating figures have psychologists and researchers exploring factors that impact adolescent mental health.

There are many different types of treatment for mental illnesses. However, no treatment works for everyone, so those diagnosed can choose the treatment or multiple treatments that help them. Psychotherapy is the therapeutic treatment provided by a mental health professional. This, combined with medication, is often the most effective form of recovery. Medicine doesn’t cure mental illnesses but can help manage the symptoms. Support groups are where a group of people focus on helping each other through talking and shared experiences in order to heal. Art therapy is not as well-known, but a way of letting emotion through creativity and helping to inspire growth and recovery.

While there is an endless amount of articles and data on the internet, don’t try to diagnose yourself. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may have and if you feel this might apply to you. A professional diagnosis is often the first step to a journey of mental health recovery and care.


Photo Credit: Artwork: Paget Michael Creelman, A neutral human profile silhouette composed of the words “mental disorder” and various mental disorders.