Mental illnesses refer to a range of conditions that impact how you think, feel and act. They can cause distressing symptoms that make it hard for you to function at home, school or at work. Treatment is available to help manage symptoms while improving quality of life.
Mental illness presents as physical symptoms such as stomach aches, back pain or insomnia. For some individuals, medication, lifestyle modifications and counseling can provide temporary relief of these symptoms.
Mental illness has a complex genetic, brain chemistry and environmental causes that may include genetics, brain chemistry, exposures before birth, infections or prenatal brain damage. People who have a family history of mental health disorders are at an increased risk for developing such disorders themselves.
Childhood adverse experiences like child abuse, neglect or parental separation can have long-term negative consequences on mental health in adulthood. Furthermore, exposure to toxic chemicals, alcohol or drugs during pregnancy increases the likelihood that these same children will also develop mental disorders.
Social and financial circumstances can also impact a person’s mental health. For instance, those living in less-affluent neighborhoods or countries where access to health care is limited may be more susceptible to developing an illness.
Psychoses are severe mental illnesses that affect approximately 24 million people around the world, and they can have devastating consequences on a person’s life. Signs may include delusions, hallucinations and disturbed thinking processes. Psychiatric medications are frequently prescribed to treat schizophrenia and other psychoses.