What is Mental illness and its Types, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, etc.

One of the common myths about mental illness is that people think that the people who suffer from any kind of mental illness suffer from it because of personality weakness or character flaws. It is also believed that mental illness causes people to snap out very easily. Studies and researchers from different parts of the world have proved that the mental health of a person has nothing to do with being lazy and weak. Many factors are responsible for the mental health of a person like biological factors (genes, physical illness, brain chemistry, injury), life experiences (history of abuse, trauma), and family history.

What is Mental Illness and its Types?

Mental illness or mental health problems are very common but till date, many people don’t realize it and carry the thought that “Mental illness doesn’t affect me”. Mental health problems may affect any person and any age group. Only 20% of the adolescents and children receive the required treatment while the rest are left behind unnoticed and unheard. Each year more than 41,000 American commit suicide making it one of the 10th leading causes of death in the US.

Mental illness can be defined as a condition that influences a person’s mood, thinking ability, and feeling. This can affect the functioning of day-to-day life and the person’s ability to relate to others. It has been noticed that no person experiences that exact same experiences even for people with the same diagnosis. Mental illness is not the product of a particular event but a number of past and present overlapping of events is responsible for it. Stress at the workplace or not able to cope with life changes, a victim of a crime, or any kind of traumatic events of life can make a person very susceptible.

Different presentation is involved with many kinds of mental disorders, which is characterized by an abnormal perception, thoughts, behaviour, emotions, and relationship equation with others. Depression, schizophrenia, dementia, bipolar disorder, autism and other psychoses are some of the kinds of mental illness. Currently, there are a number of effective treatment and strategies that help to treat and prevent such mental disorders to scale up.

Types of mental illness

Countries all over the world are prey to this ‘silent killer’ disease which is very less acknowledged. Mental illness is not taken seriously till date; proper awareness is very essential to fight back and make people conscious that our brain can too fall sick at times and it’s is not a ‘big deal’. Some of the types of mental illness are-

  • Mood disorder- also known as an affective disorder, this kind of disorder includes a persistent feeling of sadness or feeling over-top happy with occasional fluctuation of extreme sadness or happiness. Depression, cyclothymic disorder, and bipolar disorder are some of the common mood disorders.
  • Eating disorder-extreme behaviour, attitudes, and emotions concerning food and weight results in eating disorder; binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa are some of the eating disorders.
  • Anxiety disorder-people with such disorder respond to certain situations or objects with fear, panic and signs of anxiety; rapid heartbeat and sweating are some of the symptoms of anxiety. People become aware of this disorder when the anxiety level interferes the normal functioning of daily life, inability to control response or when he/she acts differently in certain situations.
  • Impulse control and addiction disorders-inability to control urges to perform certain things or acts that can prove to be harmful to self and others. Disorders like kleptomania (stealing), gambling (compulsive), and pyromania (stating fires) are some of the impulse control and addiction disorders. Addiction is one of the common vice of this disorder, addiction of alcohol, drugs and smoking hampers in the lives of such people that they often ignore relationships and responsibilities.
  • Psychotic disorders-includes distorted thinking and awareness. Delusions and hallucinations are two common symptoms of psychotic disorder that make the person hear sounds that are not real and accepting a false belief despite facing/witnessing the truth with evidence. Schizophrenia is an example of such a disorder.
  • Personality disorder-inflexible and extreme kinds of personality are the traits of a personality disorder. This disorder affects the person’s thinking, causes a problem in work-life, school and social relationships. Anti-social personality disorder, OCD, and paranoid personality disorder are some of the examples of personality disorder.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder-it is a condition that results from post terrifying or traumatic events which can be a sexual assault or any kind of physical damage. Unexpected decrease of a beloved family member or the circumstances of a natural disaster; people suffering from PTSD are known to have a lasting impression, frightening thoughts and are emotionally vulnerable.
  • OCD-obsessive-compulsive disorder-people with this order are characterized by a constant amount of fear that makes them do/perform certain routines. The complication arises when this behaviour reaches to an obsession level which is termed as a compulsion. For example, people with such a disorder may constantly wash their hands in an unreasonable fear of germs.

Symptoms of mental illness

It is quite difficult to reliably tell if a person is developing a certain kind of mental illness in the initial phase. However, the signs and symptoms of mental illness scale-up in a short span of time making it obvious about the illness-

  • Confusion
  • Hearing voices
  • Addicted to drugs
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Maintaining distance from people or not socializing
  • Not able to complete a normal day-to-day task like cooking or getting ready for work
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling that nothing matters except their urge
  • Persistent memories that tend to appear regularly
  • Low in energy level

Causes of mental illness

Mental illness is caused due to a combination of several factors rather than a sole cause. Biological, environmental, and psychological factors together are responsible for a mental disorder. The causes of mental illness based on these factors are-

Biological factors:

  • Infection-conditions like pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder (PANDA) which is associated with bacteria named streptococcus can lead to the development of the obsessive-compulsive disorder in children
  • Genetic-many mental illness is related to abnormalities in the genes (family history) and other factors like stress, abusive and traumatic events which collectively can adversely affect the mental health of a person. Such factors can trigger or influence a person who has inherited susceptibility.
  • Brain injury and injury-injury or defect in any part of the brain can lead to developing a mental illness condition
  • Substance abuse-substance abuse for a long duration is linked with depression, anxiety issues and paranoia.
  • Prenatal damage-early fetal brain trauma which may have occurred at the time of birth can develop into autism spectrum disorder.

Other factors-exposure to toxins for long-term and poor nutrition can lead to developing mental illness

Psychological factors:

  • Lack of ability to relate or socialize
  • Emotionally vulnerable due to the loss of a dear one at an early stage
  • Traumatic experiences of childhood which can be emotional, sexual or physical abuse
  • Neglect

Environmental factors:

  • Shocking events or hard to accept events like death or divorce
  • Disturbing and dysfunctional family life
  • Switching jobs or schools frequently
  • Low esteem, anger, loneliness or anxiety issues
  • Trapped under social pressure
  • Substance abuse

Treatment of mental illness

It has been estimated that 76-85% people of the middle and low-income countries don’t receive any kind of treatment. People suffering from mental illness not just require medications but social care and support is also a very crucial part of the entire treatment process. Not all treatments are the same for individuals suffering the same mental illness as what works for one patient may not work for the other one. Some of the treatments of mental illness are-

  • Psychotherapy-Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy, and exposure therapy are used to treat mental illness.
  • Self-help-Reduce the consumption of alcohol, drugs and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy food, following an effective sleep pattern (minimum 6-7 hours daily), and exercise regularly
  • Medication-although medications can’t totally cure mental illness but it sure can calm down the symptoms

Families and psychiatrists can provide a lot of help and support for a person suffering from any kind of mental illness by including the patient in talk sessions and medications. A combination of talk therapy and medications has shown the most effective results.

Complications of mental illness

One of the leading causes of mental illness is a disability. If a disability condition is left untreated for a long time it can lead to extreme physical, emotional and behavioural problems. The complication that may arise from any kind of mental illness are-

  • Heart diseases
  • Conflicts in the family
  • Misuse of toxic substances such as drugs, alcohol etc
  • Social distancing or isolation
  • Weak immune system
  • Poverty due to sense of irresponsibility
  • Increase in problems related to work, home or school
  • Legal problems and financial loss
  • Homicide or suicidal tendencies

Precautions of mental illness

There are no such preventative ways to stop a mental illness from developing but awareness and alertness for it can help to save a lot of lives. Keeping away from stress and taking precautions to handle stress can be effective in many ways.

  • Be alert and don’t ignore the warning signs and consult with the doctor at the earliest
  • Try to get a routine medical check-up
  • Ask for help whenever needed, don’t be reluctant to express what you feel
  • Love yourself and take good care, get an adequate amount of sleep, eat healthy food, get active and exercise daily.

The World health organization (WHO) in the year 2013 executed a 2013 to 2020 mental health action plan, endorsed by the world health assembly. In this plan, the essential role of mental health is addressed and it includes the following 4 major objectives-

  • More effective leadership and governance for mental health
  • Strengthened information systems, evidence, and research
  • The provision of comprehensive, integrated mental health and social care services in community-based settings
  • The implementation of strategies for promotion and prevention.


Que1. What’s the most painful mental illness?

Ans- Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is regarded as one of the most painful mental illness.

Que2. How do you deal with an emotionally unstable person?

Ans- Help them cope up with things and handle the turmoil of emotions that might become stable if the person suffering from it feels stable and loved.

Que3. How do you know you’re crazy?

Ans- If you’re experiencing regular dramatic sleep disorder, decline in personal care, rapid mood changes and depressed feeling than you must seek medical help.

Que4. Can mental illness go away?

Ans- Mental illness can appear anytime and also has the possibility to drive it away with proper medication and care.

Que5. What is the best diet for mental health?

Ans- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Que6. Can poor nutrition cause mental illness?

Ans- Yes, lack of essential nutrients in the diet can lead to mental illness like anxiety issues and depression

Que7. Is ginger good for anxiety?

Ans- Ginger is good for the brain and can help to beat stress.

Que8. Which fruit is good for anxiety?

Ans- Vitamin C rich fruits like orange can help your anxiety and keep you in better mind-frame.

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