Borrowed from the National Alliance for Mental Illness
The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) has designed the week of October 6th as Mental Illness Awareness Week.
So what is mental illness? It is a condition that can affect someone’s thinking, behavior or mood. It may also affect the ability to relate well to others, handle emotions and sometimes to function day to day.
Some myths about mental illness include the myth that people cause their mental illness or that people are weak and that’s why they have problems. There are many causes and combination of things that contribute to mental illness. Genetics, environment, life experience and trauma can all contribute to mental illness.
What’s important to know is that recovery is possible with the right treatment and/or support.
Some interesting statistics point to the fact that 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness every year and 1 in 6 youth experience a mental health problem each year.
Determining if there is mental illness can be challenging. Below are some common symptoms:
- 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)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- 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
If you or someone you know seem to be exhibiting some of these symptoms, they can contact your primary care physician, a local mental health agency or to find out what services and supports are available in your community. For more information contact the NAMI (http://nami.org).
If you or someone you know needs helps now, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.