Consider this: 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental health condition each year. This ranges from common anxiety disorders to more serious conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Depending on the diagnosis, symptoms may be temporary and subside over time. However, a more serious diagnosis may require treatment such as therapy and medication to help manage symptoms. Treatment can last for a few weeks or months, and may even span an entire lifetime.
So, what do we mean when we say mental health condition? A mental health condition, or mental illness, affects the way we think and experience life, from day-to-day tasks to our relationships with others. Mood disorders, substance use disorders, and personality disorders are all mental health conditions. There are both genetic and environmental causes and the symptoms each person experiences will manifest differently, even among people with the same diagnosis.
Do you recognize any of the symptoms for the common mental health conditions below?
Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobias. When someone is coping with anxiety, they often have an overwhelming sense of dread or worry. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms like a rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, and sweating. Treatment can include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes that reduce stress.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Symptoms include difficulty focusing, being easily distracted, fidgeting, boredom with tasks, impatience, and interrupting others. ADHD can be treated with medication, behavioral therapy, and accommodations in school or work.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme emotional highs (mania) and intense emotional lows (depression). A person with bipolar disorder might experience these highs and lows at the same time or in rapid succession. Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, hallucinations and delusions may also be present. Treatment for bipolar disorder includes medication, therapy, healthy lifestyle changes, and familiarity with one’s own symptoms.
Depression is different from feelings of sadness. The symptoms of depression typically last longer than two weeks and can interfere with daily life. People struggling with depression often experience changes in sleep or appetite, a lack of concentration, less energy than usual, hopelessness, and more seriously, thoughts of suicide.
Consider speaking with your healthcare provider about depression. They may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, and certain lifestyle changes like exercise, meditation, and improved nutrition.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessions are thoughts that are persistent, unwanted, and intrusive. These obsessive thoughts can cause an irrational urge to perform an action or task, known as compulsions. When obsessive thoughts and compulsions take up more than an hour of every day, interrupting your life, this is known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Thoughts and compulsions vary from person to person. Genetics and brain chemistry are thought to play a role in causing OCD. Therapy and medication may be recommended as a treatment option to help manage symptoms.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks or nightmares, difficulty remembering the event, avoiding people or places that trigger memories of the event, trouble sleeping, and angry outbursts. Experiencing a traumatic event such as a car accident, natural disaster, sexual assault, or military combat can result in PTSD, though not everyone who experiences trauma will develop symptoms. Therapy, medication, and in some cases, service animals can all ease symptoms of PTSD.
Common symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, flat affect or reduced emotional expression, and difficulty maintaining relationships. Because these symptoms are characteristic of using drugs like methamphetamine and LSD, and may overlap with other mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, it’s important for your healthcare provider to rule out other factors that may be influencing your behavior before a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be made. Schizophrenia can be treated with medication and therapy.
Living with a mental health diagnosis is not only possible but common. Managing your symptoms with medication, behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes can make a world of difference.
If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, speak with your therapist or healthcare provider. They may recommend a psychiatric evaluation to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis. You can always contact us at our counseling centers to get started.