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Mental Illness

What Is Mental Illness?

Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions or disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behaviour. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.

A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and talking therapy (psychotherapy).

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Examples of Mental Illness

Psychosis

Examples of diagnoses: 

  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Bipolar disorder, 
  • Drug induced psychosis

If you have psychosis you will process the world around you differently to other people. This can include how you experience, believe or view things. You might see or hear things that others do not. Or believe things other people do not. Some people describe it as a "break from reality." There are different terms use to describe psychosis. Such as “psychotic symptoms”, “psychotic episode” or “psychotic experience."

Mood disorders

Examples of diagnoses: 

  • Depression 
  • Bipolar Affective disorders (manic -depressive disorder) 
  • Postpartum disorder (occurs during pregnancy or after delivery)

A mood disorder is a mental health problem that primarily affects a person’s emotional state. It is a disorder in which a person experiences long periods of extreme happiness, extreme sadness, or both.

Trauma

Going through very stressful, frightening or distressing events is sometimes called trauma. When we talk about emotional or psychological trauma, we might mean:

  • Situations or events we find traumatic
  • How we're affected by our experiences

Traumatic events can happen at any age and can cause long-lasting harm. Everyone has a different reaction to trauma, so you might notice any effects quickly, or a long time afterwards.

Personality Disorders

A personality disorder is a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school.

Risk Factors

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, including:

  • A history of mental illness in a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling
  • Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one's death or a divorce
  • An ongoing (chronic) medical condition, such as diabetes
  • Brain damage as a result of a serious injury (traumatic brain injury), such as a violent blow to the head
  • Traumatic experiences, such as military combat or assault
  • Use of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • A childhood history of abuse or neglect
  • Few friends or few healthy relationships
  • A previous mental illness

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