mental illness

Physical Mental Illness Types, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Physical symptoms of mental illness

Mental illness is a physical issue in the brain that causes disturbances in behavior, emotions, thinking, or energy, making it difficult to cope with ordinary life demands. Studies are starting to uncover the complicated issues of these problems, including genetics, brain structure or chemistry, or have another medical condition such as heart problems. 

Mental illness affects about 19 percent of the adult population, 13 percent of children, and 46 percent of teenagers each year. Individuals struggling with their mental health may be living next door, working in your office, sitting in the same church, or maybe in your family. 

But, only half of those affected people only receive treatment, often due to the stigma attached to mental health. People left untreated to mental illness contribute to high medical expended, poor performance at work and school, increased risk of suicide, or fewer employment opportunities. 

The two most common mental illnesses are:

  • Anxiety disorders occur in more than 18 percent of adults struggling with anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, specific phobias, or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Mood disorders include anxiety, bipolar depression, or depression. It may affect about 10 percent of adults each year and is characterized by issues in regulating a person’s mood. 

What is severe mental illness?

Severe mental illness is referred to as an individual over the age of 18 years who has a diagnosis of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorder that causes severe functional impairment that interferes with or limits your daily routine activities. 

It is a small subset of 300 mental illnesses. Mental severe issues include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. All these conditions can potentially produce impairment or interfere with daily routine tasks. Thus many mental disorders may qualify as severe according to various uses and interpretations of the term. 

The definition of severe mental illness may vary too. It is depended on whether the term is used for clinical, epidemiological, or legal purposes.

What can trigger mental illness?

Mental illness is thoughts caused due to various environmental and genetic factors:

Brain chemistry: Brain chemicals such as neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other bodies and brains. When your neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of the nervous system and nerve receptors leads to depression and other emotional disorders. 

Environmental exposure before birth: Environmental stressors exposure such as toxins, inflammatory conditions, drugs, or alcohol while in the womb can trigger mental conditions. 

Inherited traits: Mental conditions are more common in people with blood relatives who also have mental problems. The genetic condition may increase the risk of developing a mental illness, and your situation of life may trigger it. 

Multiple risk factors may increase the risk of developing a mental condition, such as: 

  • stressful life situation including financial issues or loved one’s divorce and death.
  • a history of the mental state in blood relatives
  • increased consumption of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • previous mental illness
  • brain damage resulting from a severe injury
  • ongoing medical conditions such as diabetes
  • history of abuse and neglect

Mental illnesses are common in people. Approximately 1 in 5 adults has a mental condition every year. It can occur at any age, usually from childhood through later in adulthood, but cases begin in earlier life. 

The effects of mental conditions can be temporary and long-lasting. An individual may also have more than one mental condition at the same time. For instance, you may have substance use disorder or depression at the same time.

How does mental illness affect the brain?

You must have known that understanding brain function can be confusing and complex. But all you need to know is that the brain sends the message all throughout the body through the nerves and the brain. The human brain sends electrical signals through a process called neurotransmission

When an individual suffers from a mental illness, it affects the functioning of the brain. It disrupts the communication between the neurons. These changes may also affect the flow of neurotransmission. 

Suffering stress and worry can cause your adrenal glands to produce excessive cortisol. This brain chemical is the primary hormonal response to stress that helps the brain control moods and emotions. And too much of this chemical can affect brain functioning and trigger symptoms of anxiety and depression

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How can mental illness affect you physically?

You may have heard the situation of fight or flight response to danger. When you see a threat, your body gets ready to either fight the danger or run away from that. Your body becomes filled with two stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline. It increases blood pressure, and heart rate suppresses the digestive system, and affects the immune system

It helps to exert a lot of physical energy you need if you are fighting or running away from danger. After the threat goes away, your body usually returns to a resting state. It is an evolutionary response that is meant to keep you safe. It is not necessarily bad, as it helps you deal with or avoid danger.

A specific level of anxiety known as optimal anxiety can be beneficial in raising an individual’s motivation to an optimal level. But, if you are in a constant state of anxiety and stress, it can wreak havoc on the body. Continues anxiety means your adrenaline and cortisol levels will constantly be high, and you will return to a resting state. It can have a negative effect on the functions of your organs. 

Your mental illness can affect your physical health in several ways. It can disrupt your ability to think clearly, fight off chronic disease, or make healthy decisions. Over time, neglecting mental health can lead to severe health conditions and problems, such as: 

  • obesity and heart problem
  • high blood pressure
  • premature death
  • weakened immune system and gastrointestinal issues

What is the most common mental illness?

mental illness can affect people of every age, sex, gender, socioeconomic, or ethnicity. These mental disorders can range from mild to severe, and like other medical conditions, many factors can trigger the disease. People with mental conditions struggle to cope with everyday tasks because of the altered mood, behavior, and thinking. 

According to the CDC, about 50 percent of people will be diagnosed with a mental condition. While there are many mental conditions, some are more common than others. 

  • Bipolar disorder is one of the several mood conditions that leave people with emotions swinging from very high to low. These extremes are so severe that they can damage the relationships that result in poor academic performance and possibly lead to suicide. 
  • OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by repetitive obsessions, irritational, and unwanted urges of specific actions. People with this disorder may offer experience symptoms of OCD in childhood. 
  • Anxiety disorder is the most common mental condition in the USA and includes OCD, phobias, and panic attacks. 
  • Depression: It may vary degrees of severity and can be difficult to diagnose; however, it is the most frequently diagnosed mental disorder.

Bottom line

Living with a mental illness can be very difficult, but treatment and help are available. If you experience or suspect someone with a mental condition, consult your health care professional immediately, who may consult you to an expert for further assessment, treatment, or evaluation. 

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