M. D. Jackson is a college psychology professor, author, family counselor, and a mother of nine adult children.
Are You Mentally Ill?
It’s a question people are starting to consider more often. Are they mentally ill?. Popular psychology has created a constant stream of information for people to immerse themselves in diagnosis. Today we have mental illness as both a label and an excuse for behavior. Is everyone mentally ill? Are all people saddled with something wrong inside their brains? The answer is; no we are not all mentally ill.
Let’s start with the simple definition of mental illness? The American Psychiatry Association (APA) states “Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in thinking, emotion, or behavior (or a combination of these)” (APA. sic. 2018). Also according to the APA (2018), 19% of U.S. adults experience mental illness and one in 24 Adults experience severe mental illness. Knowing these statistics we can ascertain that quite a few people are walking around with a mental illness. Mental illness covers any and all adverse behaviors from caffeine intoxication (DSM-IV-TR 305.90) to Autistic Disorder (DSM-IV-TR 299.00).
What is a Disorder?
A disorder is any situation in the brain that causes unreasonable/extreme thoughts or actions. There is a diagnosis for being intoxicated via Caffeine. That statement seems to lend an almost unreasonable range for diagnosis, however in children caffeine intoxication can mimic hyperactivity disorders. Of course taking a kid off caffeine is an easy solution to the problem. In this scenario, we see that not all disorders are serious mental illnesses or a long term issue.
Changes in Thinking
What type of changes in thinking are we talking about? Does it need to be a change in thinking? The first indicator of an onset of a mental illness is a change in thinking. An example of this is the onset of Schizophrenia when a person thinks they hear voices when no one is speaking. Another change in thinking could be a person who starts obsessing over safety such as checking the home doors 25-60 times a night. For a person experiencing mania their thoughts may be racing with an inability to sleep, and grand thoughts about success. These are all extreme examples. When a person is born with mental illness there isn’t necessarily a change in thinking. The issues usually becomes more obvious as the person ages and is expected to function in society.
Are You Mentally Ill?
The following questions are not meant to diagnose anyone. If you think you are having mental health issues, see a professional. If your answer is yes to any of these questions please seek the help of a psychiatrist or counselor. The author cannot give you other mental health advice. The following are some generalizations and are not used to diagnose illness.
- Have you been thinking the same thoughts repeatedly?
- Do your thoughts cause you to act in a manner uncharacteristic with your usual behavior? (not leaving the house, abusing a substance, or fighting with those around you)
- Is your behavior erratic? (Are you happy one minute and angry throwing things the next minute?)
- Have the people around you had to accommodate your behaviors?
- Are you thinking thoughts that are not typical? (Suicide, violence, murder, sexually deviate)
- Do you feel like you are not in control of your actions?
- Are you often anxious with physical uncomfortable symptoms? (Sweats, increased heart rate, panic)
- Have you had an extreme thoughts that are contrary to societal laws or norms?
- Are you unable to control your own thoughts or actions?
If any of these are true consider seeking help. As stated this is not a questionnaire to diagnose anyone.
Why You Should Seek Treatment
The brain is an organ in your body just like your heart. Your brain can malfunction just like your heart. If you suspected you were having a heart attack you wouldn’t ignore it, you would see a doctor. Just as your heart can have a physical problem that needs to be fixed, your brain has can have physical problems that need to be addressed. There have been cases where tumors are discovered from what starts out as adverse thoughts or behavior. It is possible to have any number of physical things wrong with your brain. Issues with thinking can also be a symptom of hormonal imbalance or other physical conditions.
Will I get Committed to an Institution?
It is rare for people to go insane asylums. More often than not people who cannot function in society are sent to prison following committing a crime. This is another reason for you to get help. People with mental illness are estimated to make up 50-77% of the prison population depending on who is reporting. That means as mental illness goes untreated; we are seeing those numbers rise. Also a person who is having a mental health issue is likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol both of which will compound the problem increasing the chances of breaking the law. If you are on a treatment plan and adhere to that plan, your chances of any type of incarceration go down.
If you believe that you are going to harm yourself or others, go get help now. Do not wait. Tell someone in your family; have them get you to a doctor now. Do not wait and hope these thoughts will go away. Get help right now.
Does Everyone have a Mental Illness?
As a culture we obsess over mental illness and trying to label each other. Is he a narcissist or passive aggressive; is she bipolar or manic depressive? The truth is that you cannot diagnose someone from a far and most people are not qualified to diagnose people. What’s worse is we label those around us by their sporadic actions more than their consistent actions. We all have moments of inferior judgment. We all have moments of selfish behavior. A human being is made up of many complex parts and none of us are definable in one word. Even people who are mentally ill are definable by more than their illness. You would not look as someone who has a heart condition and say “He’s low heart rate” to describe him. You wouldn’t do that because it has nothing to do with the person he is inside.
The final message is; if you think you might have a mental illness, get help. You have nothing to lose by seeing a mental health professional. You may find out there isn’t anything wrong with you or your condition is treatable.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 MD Jackson MSIOP
MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on July 12, 2018:
Thank you, I appreciate the follow.
Centfie from Kenya on July 09, 2018:
In-depth and outstanding article about mental illness. Thanks for sharing this and promoting mental health awareness.
MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on July 06, 2018:
Thank you Pamela.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 06, 2018:
I am glad to say I answered no to the questions! This is really such a thorough article about mental illness, and I agree that it is important not to label people with any label until you are sure because all other causes are ruled out.
When my youngest child was about 3 my neighbor thought he was hyperactive, and she tried to get me to ask the doctor to treat him with Ritalin I absolutely was not going to do that, and the overactive stage was something he just outgrew.
Very interesting and insightful article.