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What is Mental Illness?

What is Mental Illness?

People with mental illness have disorders of thought, feeling or behaviour that result in an inability to cope with the demands of everyday life. Symptoms vary in type and degree from illness to illness and from person to person. They are often cyclical in nature and vary in severity over time. An acute episode may last from weeks to months for some and many years or a lifetime for others.

The following list of symptoms could be warning signs
of a mental illness developing:

· Social withdrawal
· Depression
· Thought disorders
· Strong, absent or inappropriate expressions of feeling
· Destructive behaviours
· Impaired thinking
· Disturbances in relationships with others

They should be taken seriously and, when more than one symptom appears in adolescents, should not be considered just a passing phase.

It is always best to start with a physical examination to rule out the possibility of an underlying medical disease (hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, brain tumour, disordered metabolism) when mental illness is suspected.

It is important to know that research is progressing at a steady rate and there are many medications that can help affected individuals lead productive lives. It is often suggested that combining the appropriate type of psychotherapy with medications and rehabilitation intervention can increase a person’s chances of remaining stable and functional.

For more information on mental illness:

The Canadian Mental Health Association offers downloadable pamphlets
Canadian Health Network
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry