Valley of the Mad

Am I Mentally Ill?

Am I Mentally Ill?

Overview

Mental illnesses are serious issues that affect millions of people around the world. Mental health Issues are often caused by biological factors, like genetics, brain chemistry and hormones. However, there are many other causes including trauma, abuse, environmental toxins, and poor nutrition. There are many different types of mental health disorders. Some examples include Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Eating Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ADHD, Schizophrenia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Addiction, Substance Abuse, Trauma, Suicide, and others.

A Mental illness is not a disease. They are disorders of the brain and nervous system. Mental illnesses affect the way we think, feel, behave, and relate to others. Symptoms may vary depending on what type of mental illness someone has. Some mental illnesses can be treated with medication while others require psychotherapy.

Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Most major mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder rarely occur out of nowhere. Usually, someone notices something is wrong before the symptoms become severe enough to require treatment. For example, a friend may notice a change in your mood or behavior. Or you might feel like you’re losing touch with reality. These early signs can help doctors diagnose an illness before it gets worse.

Early intervention can help reduce the risk of developing a mental health condition. It may also be possible to delay or even prevent a major mental illness entirely. Learning about developing symptoms, or the early warning signs, of a mental health problem and taking action can help you stay well.

If you notice any of the following, it might be time to seek help. You may feel like your life is spinning out of control. You may experience mood swings or depression. You may withdraw from friends and family. You may lose interest in activities you once loved. These symptoms could indicate an underlying mental illness. If you think you need to talk to someone about your thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

A sudden change in behavior, usually involving an increase in irritability, anxiety, restlessness, depression, or aggression. A decrease in interest in previously enjoyed activities. An inability to concentrate. Difficulty sleeping. Changes in eating habits. Loss of appetite. Feeling tired all the time. Fatigue. Feelings of hopelessness. Decreased ability to handle stress. Increased sensitivity to light, sound, smell, taste, touch, or pain. You may feel like you’re not really there anymore. You feel disconnected from yourself and your surroundings. You think that everything around you is unreal. And you start believing that you have magical powers.

Nervously anxious or worried about something. Someone who acts strangely or oddly. A person who shows unusual behavior. These behaviors could mean someone needs help. If you notice someone acting unusually, call 911 immediately. If you think your friend might harm himself or herself, get him/her to a hospital right away. You can also contact your local suicide prevention hotline.

Taking Action Getting Help

Early intervention can help reduce stigma and increase access to care. Research shows that early intervention can help prevent hospitalization and improve outcomes. Early intervention programs also provide an opportunity to identify individuals at risk for developing serious mental health problems, including those who may need additional services.

Encouraging someone to seek help for depression or anxiety is important. A mental health or other health professional can evaluate whether you need treatment. You might also benefit from learning about mental illness, including signs and symptoms, and receiving supportive counseling about your daily life and strategies for managing stress. Your doctor can monitor your progress and provide advice about when you should see another provider. Stigma may prevent you from getting the help you need. If you feel depressed or anxious, talk to a friend, family member, teacher, counselor, clergyperson, or doctor.

Individuals with bipolar disorder need to be treated individually. Treatment should focus on helping them manage their moods and behaviors. A team approach may be helpful. Individual and family therapy can help identify triggers and patterns that lead to episodes. Education and employment opportunities can help reduce stress and increase self-esteem. Medication may also be necessary.

Where to Get Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other mental illness, there are many ways to get help. You may need to seek professional treatment, but there are also plenty of free options available. If you feel like you might benefit from talking to a counselor, therapist or psychiatrist, check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness website. There are many local organizations that offer free counseling and therapy. You can also call the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-6264 to speak to a trained volunteer.

If you need help right now, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or call 911.

How do mental health professionals diagnose disorders?

Mental health conditions are diagnosed using a combination of information gathered from multiple sources. These sources include your own observations, what you tell your doctor about yourself, and any previous diagnoses you’ve received. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. He or she may conduct physical exams and tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms. You may receive psychological testing, including interviews and questionnaires. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional for further evaluation.

A medical record is an organized collection of information about a patient. It includes past and present illnesses, treatments, surgeries, hospitalizations, medications, allergies, immunizations, laboratory tests, imaging studies, diagnoses, and other relevant details. A medical record is often kept electronically, but paper records are still commonly used. Medical records contain information about both the patient and the provider. The provider may be a doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, pharmacist, dentist, psychologist, social worker, or any other healthcare professional. The provider also collects and maintains the medical record.

A questionnaire is a tool that allows researchers to gather information about an individual’s personality traits, habits, preferences, opinions, etc. Questionnaires are usually administered through interviews, telephone surveys, online questionnaires, or self-administered forms. There are many types of questionnaires, including those designed to measure attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, skills, behaviors, interests, motivations, emotions, values, personality traits, and demographics. Some questionnaires are designed to assess psychological well-being, while others are designed to evaluate physical health, social relationships, financial status, career success, or educational attainment.

Receiving a Diagnosis

Mental health professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, also called DSM-5, to assess symptoms and determine whether someone needs further evaluation. The manual lists criteria, including feelings and behaviors and times when those symptoms must occur in order to be considered a mental health condition. It includes information about the nature, severity and duration of symptoms. It is updated every few years, and the latest version is called the 5th edition. The 5 in DSM-5 refers to the fifth edition. 

Finding Treatment

It’s not always clear what kind of help you need. You may feel like you’re stuck, but there are lots of resources out there. If you’ve already had a diagnosis, you might have information about treatments available through your doctor or another healthcare provider. Or if you’re feeling anxious or depressed, you could talk to someone at a local clinic or hospital. And if you’re not sure what’s going on, you can call your health insurance company or ask your family doctor. A doctor will examine you and determine what is wrong. He/she may recommend tests or treatments to get to the bottom of your problem. Your doctor might also suggest lifestyle changes like exercise, nutrition or stress management to help you feel better.

Recovery

Recovery means different things to different people, but with support and treatment, symptoms can improve. If you have mental health concerns, then you may want to think about the options available within this page. Remember that there are lots of services and organisations out there that are there to help and assist you.

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About Us

Ray and Dan started Valley of the Mad as a brand focused on mental health. Our aim is to raise awareness of mental health, support those that may be finding it difficult and improve access to resources.

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