Many people struggle with aspects of mental health at some point in their lives, but not everyone experiences a mental illness. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a person experiencing a tough period of time and someone truly struggling with a mental health condition. The lines are not always clear and it can be especially hard to tell when a person appears to be “normal” on the outside.
Mental illness can impact a person’s life in numerous aspects. Their daily life, work, relationships, and physical health can all be negatively impacted by symptoms. Rarely, if ever, does a mental illness “appear out of nowhere”, and there are often signs that something is going awry before the illness fully reveals itself.
How to Tell When Things Aren’t “Normal”
Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell the difference between normal mental health and mental illness. This is because many symptoms of mental illness can mimic normal reactions to situations. There is no definitive test that can say whether or not a person has a mental illness, but there are symptoms that indicate the likelihood of one being present. Behavior, feelings, and thoughts are all aspects that can be examined to assess how symptoms have affected a person’s life.
A mental health professional can help you identify your mental health needs through an assessment. While the presence of some of these symptoms does not necessarily indicate that you have a mental health condition, it is still worthwhile to discuss with a professional to determine if treatment is necessary.
- Changes in sleep and appetite
- Rapid, sudden changes in mood
- Withdrawal from social events or activities that once brought joy
- A decline in performance at work or in school
- Difficulty concentrating and problems with memory or logical thought
- Increased sensitivity to outside sounds, smells, or touch
- Feeling disconnected from oneself or those around them
- A general sense of apathy
- Increased nervousness that manifests as fear or suspicion of others
- Uncharacteristic behaviors
- Illogical thinking, such as believing you have “power” over events that is magical in nature
Although the conversation surrounding mental health has shifted greatly in recent years, there is still a stigma attached to it that can make many hesitant to seek help. As a result, many people treat the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses as a normal part of life and try to find other ways of coping. Unfortunately, this thought process can lead to worse outcomes. Without proper treatment, symptoms can worsen and many will attempt to soothe them through self-medication. For this reason, drugs and alcohol are commonly linked to mental health disorders. While substance abuse can provide temporary relief from symptoms of mental health conditions, over time, the condition worsens with new symptoms developing or current symptoms becoming exacerbated. Mental health disorders coupled with addiction can lead to the development of unique symptoms and experiences that can be increasingly difficult to treat.
Treatment for Mental Health Disorders
Treatment for mental health disorders will vary from person to person depending on their unique needs and not all forms of treatment are equally effective. Starting the conversation about mental health needs early can help determine what treatment method would be most effective. In most cases, multiple forms of treatment are used simultaneously to improve recovery outcomes.
Some of the most common tools used in treatment include:
- Therapy: There are countless forms of therapy that can help a person address their needs. Individual and group therapy are the most common, and within those two forms of therapy are countless approaches. Traditional talk therapy, experiential therapy, exposure therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are just some of the many types of therapy available. A person may utilize multiple forms of therapy to improve recovery outcomes. Therapy also creates space for education and the development of a sense of community that can help change perceptions about mental health, reducing the impact of stigmas on treatment.
- Medication: In some cases, medications may be used to help treat symptoms of a mental health condition. It is recommended that medication be used in conjunction with therapy to not only help alleviate symptoms of mental health disorders, but also to help them uncover their underlying needs. Mental health illnesses can be driven by biological factors and not all symptoms can be treated with therapy alone. Medication can make it possible to manage symptoms more effectively and resume a more normal state of being.
- Self-help: Addressing mental health disorders also requires lifestyle changes in order to support positive growth. Because mental illnesses can negatively impact physical health as well, it is important to make changes that improve your overall sense of wellbeing. Eating a more balanced diet, having more quality sleep, and exercising can cause changes in the mind and body that improve symptoms of mental health disorders.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.