Mental illness is more common than we realize. Millions of americans suffer in one way or another. Most families are not given the tools necessary to properly support their mentally ill loved one. Most aren't even aware their loved one has a treatable problem. Sometimes families and friends think that the loved one's behavior is just their personality, that their illness isn't a disorder it is a character trait. In some cases that may be true, but in someone suffering from mental illness those personality traits are disruptive.
According to http://www.nmha.org
"A mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines.
There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal."
Many other problems can result from a mental illness and your mental health can be caused by physical and emotional problems. Stress can cause a temporary change in normal behavior, or it can bring out a more serious problem Physical illnesses may bring on mental health issues and may continue to be a problem after physical symptoms are cured. Our bodies are inseparably linked; when one part is affected the whole body is affected. Genetics are also a major factor in the presence of a mental illness. Chemical imbalances may be corrected with a variety of treatments, medical and non-medical.
Becoming more educated about mental health issues helps the individual and their families and friends cope better; knowing what you are facing helps considerably. Sharing your experiences with each other helps as well.
In a future post, I will offer some of the warning signs that you or a loved one has mental health issues and not just an extreme personality. I warn that self-diagnosis is a major problem and you should never self medicate.
Seeking professional, competent help if suspicious that a mental illness exists is imperative. You or your loved one can never get better without proper treatment. Trying exercise, eating healthier, and involvement in enjoyable activities is one way to treat the problem yourself without danger. If the problem persists, then seeking medical advice may be necessary.