Mental health refers to an individual’s psychological, emotional, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and behave in daily life.
Understanding mental health involves recognizing the complexities of the human mind and the importance of taking care of our emotional and psychological well-being. By promoting mental health awareness, we can work towards building a more mentally healthy and resilient society.
Recognizing the signs of mental health conditions is important. It can make a significant difference in treatment and recovery. Some conditions occur more commonly than others.
In this article, we’ll look at the definition of a mental health condition. We’ll explore common factors identified to contribute to mental health disorders. We’ll also look at some of the stigmas surrounding mental health disorders.
These conditions can impact a person’s relationships, work, or school life. Mental health conditions can be temporary, episodic, or chronic, depending on the nature of the disorder.
Mental health conditions do not result from personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing.
They are real, impactful, and often debilitating conditions. They can affect anyone, irrespective of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or ethnicity.
There are several critical aspects to defining mental health conditions. These include the following:
Mental health conditions are defined based on established diagnostic criteria. This includes those found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The American Psychiatric Association publishes the DSM-5.
Another example of established diagnostic criteria is the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). This is published by the World Health Organization.
These criteria often involve specific symptoms and the duration of symptoms. They also affect the impact of these symptoms on an individual’s functioning.2
Mental health conditions are typically associated with distressing symptoms.
These may include the following:
One of the defining characteristics of mental health conditions is that they cause significant distress or impairment. These impairments could be in social, occupational, or other important areas of life.
This means that the condition affects the person’s ability to carry out daily activities. It may also affect their ability to maintain relationships.
Mental health conditions are not just momentary experiences. They typically persist over time.
Some disorders, like major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, may be episodic, with periods of remission between episodes. Others, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, may require lifelong management.
Mental health conditions often have complex causes. These causes involve a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
Some conditions, like major depression, may occur in response to stressors or traumatic events. Others, like schizophrenia or autism, have a stronger genetic basis.
Most mental health conditions can be treated or managed with a combination of approaches. This typically includes a variety of psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, lifestyle changes, and supportive services.
The specific treatment will depend on the following:
Some mental health conditions have been found to run in families, suggesting a genetic component.
For example, research has shown that people with a parent or sibling with schizophrenia are at an increased risk of developing these conditions.
A genetic predisposition doesn’t guarantee a person will develop a mental health disorder. However, it does increase the likelihood, especially when combined with certain environmental factors.
These refer to the physical and physiological aspects of the body that can affect mental health.
For example, neurotransmitter imbalances can contribute to disorders like depression and anxiety. This is because neurotransmitters are involved in mood regulation.
Other biological factors can include physical illnesses or disabilities. They also include hormonal imbalances or brain injuries.
These involve individual personality traits, coping mechanisms, and cognitive processes.
For example, people with certain personality traits, like high neuroticism or low resilience, may be more prone to mental health disorders.
Similarly, cognitive factors like persistent negative thinking can lead to conditions like depression and anxiety.
These refer to the individual’s surroundings and experiences. Examples of these environmental factors include:
Social factors like isolation or a lack of social support can also contribute to developing mental health conditions.
Early life experiences and stages of development play a critical role in mental health. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can increase the risk of mental health problems later in life.
Examples include physical or emotional abuse and neglect. Others are exposed to domestic violence or growing up in a household where substance misuse was common.
Substance use can also contribute to mental health disorders. Alcohol and drugs can alter brain structure and chemistry.
Heavy or long-term use can lead to mental health problems like depression, anxiety, or psychosis.
In some cases, people may also use substances to cope with existing mental health problems. This behavior creates a cycle of substance use and mental illness.
These stigmas can affect anyone, regardless of their strength or character. This stigma can be harmful as it discourages people from seeking help or disclosing their mental health problems.3
Many people wrongly associate mental health conditions with violent behavior. This is especially true for severe conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
However, most people with mental health conditions are not violent. They’re more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. This stigma contributes to fear and discrimination.
This incorrect belief suggests you can “catch” mental illnesses from others. Mental health disorders, however, are not contagious.
They are complex conditions that involve a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
Some people believe that mental health conditions arise from flawed parenting techniques. Severe neglect or abuse can contribute to mental health problems.
However, conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and autism are not caused by parenting styles alone. This stigma unfairly places blame on parents and can prevent families from seeking help.
This stigma assumes that those with mental health conditions cannot work or contribute to society.
This is a harmful stereotype, as many people with mental health disorders can and do function well in their jobs and lead fulfilling lives. This is especially true with proper treatment and support.
There’s a misconception that mental health conditions are lifelong sentences without hope for recovery. Many mental health conditions are treatable.
Additionally, recovery is possible with appropriate therapeutic interventions, medication, and support. This stigma can lead to hopelessness and prevent people from seeking treatment.
This is also referred to as Major Depressive Disorder. Depression is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness and hopelessness. It is also marked by a lack of interest or pleasure in activities.
It can also include physical symptoms such as changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Depression is not feeling down for a day or two. It is a condition that lasts for at least two weeks and can interfere with work, school, or relationships.
This category includes various disorders. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. These disorders are characterized by excessive and persistent fear, worry, or anxiety that is difficult to control.
Symptoms can also include restlessness, being easily fatigued, and difficulty concentrating. They can also include irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.
Bipolar disorder was formerly known as manic-depressive illness. It is characterized by extreme mood swings, including emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
During a manic episode, individuals may feel euphoric and have lots of energy. They also have increased activity levels, feel jumpy or wired, have trouble sleeping, or engage in risky behaviors.
During depressive episodes, they may feel sad, hopeless, and indifferent. They may also possibly have suicidal thoughts.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental health disorder. It affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It’s characterized by thoughts or experiences that seem out of touch with reality.
It is also characterized by disorganized speech or behavior and decreased participation in daily activities. Symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, and cognitive problems.
OCD is characterized by recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that drive individuals to do something repetitively (compulsions).
These behaviors can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions. Examples include hand washing, checking on things, or cleaning.4
PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event. Examples include sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, child abuse, or other threats to a person’s life.
Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
This includes disorders such as anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Eating disorders involve disturbances in eating behavior.
Examples include extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating. They also involve feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight.
ADHD is a mental health disorder that includes a combination of persistent problems. These include difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. ADHD can interfere with functioning or development. Symptoms often appear in early childhood.
ASD is a developmental disorder. It affects communication and behavior. Autism can be diagnosed at any age.
However, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life. It affects how a person interacts with others, communicates, and learns.
BPD is characterized by severe, unstable mood swings. It is also marked by poor self-image and impulsive behaviors. People with BPD may have intense episodes of anger, depression, or anxiety that last from a few hours to days.
People with BPD may also have high rates of co-occurring mental disorders. This includes mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders.
One of the critical strengths of Iris Healing is the level of expertise and qualifications of our treatment team.
Your treatment and recovery will be overseen and guided by experienced, doctorate-level clinicians who understand mental health and evidence-based treatment approaches.
This expertise ensures you receive the highest standard of care and the best possible treatment outcomes.
Our comprehensive treatment approach addresses the symptoms and underlying factors contributing to your mental health challenges, promoting lasting healing and growth.
Our team of compassionate and skilled professionals is committed to providing patient-focused, holistic therapies that address various mental health conditions, including dual diagnosis, substance use, and addiction.
We believe in the power of personalized care, and our treatment plans are tailored to meet your unique needs and goals.
Throughout your journey with us, you’ll be supported by a dedicated team that genuinely cares about your well-being and is committed to guiding you toward a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Reach out to Iris Healing today, and let us be your partner in your journey to mental health and recovery.
You don’t have to face this alone; we are here to help you every step of the way.