In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, FOX 9 Relationship Expert, Adrienne C. Laursen, LMFT, discusses common questions and myths associated with mental illness and how to change your perspective.
A recent study from the American Psychiatric Association found that nearly half of all Americans report knowing only a little or almost nothing about mental illness. Given that 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a given year, it's clear that more education needs to be a priority.
What is Mental Illness?
A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.
Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.
Reference: National Alliance on Mental Illness, http://www.nami.org
Common Myths of Mental Illness
A lot of people believe that someone suffering with mental illness is weak, unintelligent, and unwilling to "fix it" or "snap out of it". The same APA study mentioned above also found that 1 in 3 Americans hold this belief!
Mental Illness is not a choice, it is not your fault, and it is definitely not something you can just "snap out of". Myths like those above perpetuate the stigma our society has about seeking treatment and discussing mental illness concerns with friends, family, coworkers, loved ones, etc. It's still not acceptable in our society to say "I struggle with depression and I have an appointment with my psychiatrist this afternoon."
How to Seek Treatment or Help Someone You Love
Depending on a person's diagnosis, there are a lot of treatment options available. There is no magic pill, but a combination of medication and therapy is typically an important part of seeking recovery. Other treatment options include support groups, skills training, case management, support employment, hospitalization, supportive housing, dietary support, and exercise.
If you feel that you may be suffering with mental illness, it's important to speak with your doctor, or schedule an appointment with a licensed mental health provider to be evaluated. Try not to diagnose yourself, because often times we think our symptoms are worse than may be the case. Leave it to the professionals, and don't be afraid to look into getting help.
For more information on Adrienne's counseling services and free relationship tips, please visit her website at http://www.TheEngagementCoach.com.