How to Identify the Most Common Mental Illnesses

Have you ever had chills, a runny nose, a sore throat, a cough, or a fever? You’ve almost certainly encountered at least some of these symptoms at some point in your life. You were sick, probably with a regular cold, the flu, or viral infection of some sort.

In any case, you didn’t feel well, and you presumably took some action to assist alleviate the symptoms so that you could feel better, possibly some medicine, followed by some chicken noodle soup, a glass of orange juice, and some bed rest.

However, there appears to be a significant difference between how we approach healing the body and the mind when it comes to seeking treatment for symptoms of mental illness.

To begin with, there are several prevalent misconceptions about mental illness. People, in general, appear to have a difficult time acknowledging that they have a mental health condition. [1]

We all want our social media profiles to look wonderful, with photographs of exotic holidays, fine dining, the most up-to-date fashion, and, of course, plenty of smiling faces photographed at exactly the right angle.

When we are going through a difficult moment in our lives, we have an almost natural aversion to communicating our actual sentiments or emotionally opening up to people.

Perhaps it’s because we don’t want to be a burden, thus we’re afraid of being emotionally vulnerable, open, and entirely honest about our genuine inner feelings.

Furthermore, many persons with mental illnesses have been shunned and treated as outcasts throughout history. As a result, some people may choose to delay seeking help for as long as possible in order to avoid being mocked or looked down upon in some way.

Furthermore, rather than making an appointment with a board-certified psychiatrist, many people try to cope with their symptoms by self-medicating with mood-altering substances like drugs and alcohol. [2]

We all want a healthy mind and body, as well as the ability to live freely without relying on anyone—or anything else—for assistance. If you are experiencing symptoms of mental illness, however, you may only need to find the will and the means to get help before your symptoms become unbearable.

Finally, while we all have the ability to gain insight into any situation, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a completely objective point of view when it comes to identifying the depth and dimension of any of our own symptoms of mental illness, given that our perception of the problem may be clouded by the undetected nature of the problem.

In other words, even if you have signs of mental illness, you could be suffering from a problem that prevents you from seeing them.

I am confident that you will benefit from learning how to recognize a variety of symptoms associated with some of the most common types of mental illness.

As a professional dual-diagnosis interventionist and a licensed psychotherapist with over two decades of experience working with people all over the world battling symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse—combined with my own personal insight into the subject, perhaps now more than ever—I am confident that you will appreciate learning how to recognize a variety of symptoms associated with some of the most common types of mental illness.

Related: Mental Health Issues: What They Are and How They Can Affect You

1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic Stress Condition (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder marked by recurring flashbacks and nightmares related to life-threatening or traumatic events that have occurred in the past. [3]

The symptoms must be strong enough to prevent you from going about your regular routine and fulfilling your commitments.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • recurrent and unwanted memories of an event
  • flashbacks to the event in “real-time”
  • nightmares involving the trauma
  • a physical reaction to an event that triggers traumatic memories
  • avoiding conversation related to the traumatic event
  • active avoidance of people, places, and things that trigger thoughts of the event
  • a sense of hopelessness
  • memory loss related to traumatic events
  • detached relationships
  • lack of interest in normal daily activities
  • feeling constantly guarded
  • feeling as if in constant danger
  • poor concentration
  • irritability
  • being easily startled
  • insomnia
  • substance abuse
  • engaging in dangerous behaviors

Related: 7 Reasons For Your Body Feeling Heavy And Tired

2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Post-traumatic Stress Condition (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder marked by recurring flashbacks and nightmares related to life-threatening or traumatic events that have occurred in the past. [4]

The symptoms must be strong enough to prevent you from going about your regular routine and fulfilling your commitments.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • When an item is out of place or out of order, it causes anxiety.
  • recurring and frequent doubts about whether or not doors have been locked;
  • recurring and frequent doubts about whether or not electronic equipment and appliances have been turned off;
  • recurring and frequent dread of disease or poisoning
  • Fear of touching others causes people to shun social situations.
  • Hand-washing, numbering, and double-checking that statements are repeated in a strict order

3. Major Depressive Disorder

A mood disorder characterized by a persistently depressed mood that impairs one’s ability to function is known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

The symptoms must be strong enough to prevent you from going about your regular routine and fulfilling your commitments.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • lack of interest or pleasure in activities normally enjoyed
  • overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • sleep disturbances such as both insomnia and oversleep
  • overwhelming feelings of restlessness and irritability
  • lack of concentration
  • lack of appetite as well as overeating
  • thoughts of suicide

Related: How to Get Rid of Insomnia and Sleep Anxiety

4. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Illness is a mood disorder marked by unpredictable mood fluctuations that can range from severe depression to high mania.

The symptoms must be strong enough to prevent you from going about your regular routine and fulfilling your commitments.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • easily distracted
  • racing thoughts
  • exaggerated euphoric sense of self-confidence
  • easily agitated
  • hyperverbal
  • markedly increased level of activity
  • overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • lack of interest or pleasure in activities normally enjoyed
  • overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • sleep disturbances such as both insomnia and oversleep
  • overwhelming feelings of restlessness and irritability
  • lack of concentration
  • lack of appetite as well as overeating
  • thoughts of suicide

Related: Depression Warning Signs That Could Save Your Life

5. Schizophrenia

Delusions and hallucinations create schizophrenia, a thinking illness marked by a breakdown in beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. [5] The symptoms must be severe enough to impair one’s capacity to carry out typical daily tasks and meet personal obligations.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • delusions with false beliefs
  • hallucinations with a false sensory perception
  • disorganized thought with a meaningless unintelligible pattern of communication
  • disorganized behavior with catatonic appearance, bizarre posture, excessive agitation
  • flat affect
  • lack of eye contact
  • poor personal hygiene

6. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder marked by an obsession with losing weight by refusing to eat and exercising excessively.

The symptoms must be strong enough to prevent you from going about your regular routine and fulfilling your commitments.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • extreme loss of weight
  • emaciated appearance
  • eroded teeth
  • thinning hair
  • dizziness
  • swollen extremities
  • dehydration
  • arrhythmia
  • irritated skin on knuckles
  • extreme food restriction
  • excessive exercise
  • self-induced vomiting
  • excessive fear of gaining weight
  • use of layered clothing to cover up body imperfections

7. Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder marked by an obsessive desire to lose weight as a result of a distorted body image, as well as the consumption of enormous amounts of food followed by purging.

The symptoms must be strong enough to prevent you from going about your regular routine and fulfilling your commitments.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • self-induced vomiting
  • consuming abnormally large amounts of food with the intent to purge
  • the constant fear of gaining weight
  • excessive exercising
  • excessive use of laxatives and diuretics to lose weight
  • food restriction
  • shame and guilt

Final Thoughts

There is a mental health diagnosis that fits any combination of symptoms you may be experiencing, from bipolar illness to bulimia, serious depression to dysthymia. You can also choose from a variety of related self-assessment tests that are circulating on the internet.

If you want a genuine diagnosis, however, I strongly advise you to schedule an appointment with a well-trained mental health specialist in your area for more thorough and clear results.

Early discovery and treatment, similar to cancer, can greatly enhance the prognosis for recovery. [6] And, as I already stated, it is impossible to be entirely objective while self-diagnosing.

Furthermore, while your neighborhood pharmacy may have a variety of over-the-counter pills that claim to help you fall asleep faster and remain asleep longer, no medication can genuinely cure the underlying issues that have been preventing you from sleeping in the first place.

There is no replacement for hard effort, just as there is no substitute for hard work in business, as Thomas A. Edison famously said.

As a result, strive to devote as much time as possible to enhance your mental health. After all, you are your most powerful ally, and your intellect is your most valuable possession.

Reference:

  1. SpringerLink: Predictors of depression stigma

2. National Institute on Drug Abuse: Why is there comorbidity between substance use disorders and mental illnesses?

3. ResearchGate: Clinician administered PTSD scale

4. Science Direct: Cognitive assessment of obsessive-compulsive disorder

5. Nature: Rethinking schizophrenia

6. NCBI: Early detection of depression by primary care physician

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