In a given year more than 17% of the American population will suffer from some form of mental health issue – that translates to more than 54 million Americans a year. Mental illness is defined as a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dementia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia and anxiety disorders and borderline personality disorder.
It is undeniable the impact that mental illness has on society. All those affected by a mental disorder, have loved ones, friends and acquaintances that are influenced by their illness as well. Those with common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety manage quite well with the help of medication or therapy or a combination of both; others would be hard-pressed to guess that they have any ailment at all. However, even the most subtle of mental illness can lead to bigger problems like addiction or violence without treatment.
Addiction and Mental Illness
The mentally ill are five times more likely to also suffer from drug or alcohol addiction than the rest of the population. One in ten Americans become addicted to drugs or alcohol in their lifetime; almost half of the mentally ill do. This is commonly called dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Mental health issues can cloud addiction recovery and substance abuse can not only mask mental disorders in need of treatment, but can also complicate rehabilitation and healing.
The Myths of Violence in the Mentally Ill
There is a small occurrence of violence in the mentally ill; however, it usually stems from other factors like substance abuse or a family history of violence. In fact, those suffering from mental illness have less cases of incidences of violence overall than in the general population. The two ways that those suffering from mental illness and violence are united is the stigma that society has placed that a mentally ill person is automatically presumed to be dangerous. The reality is that those suffering from mental health issues are more likely to be the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators. People with a mental illness are much more likely to hurt themselves than others.
Mental Illness Warning signs
Common symptoms in people with mental health disorders can manifest as both physical and emotional warning signs. Some possible indictors are significant mood swings, extended periods of depression or anxiety, problems coping with daily work and family issues, delusions, confusion or unexplained physical ailments. Mental health issues can easily be managed with the proper care. If you notice these or other symptoms of mental illness in yourself or others, reach out to a health care professional immediately.