Mental illness – Types, Symptoms, Causes, Risk factors and more

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Understanding mental health is a herculean task. It is a wide concept, involving various elements that affect it.

What is meant by mental health?

Mental health refers to the psychological and emotional well-being of a person. Having healthy mental health will keep us happier and lead to a healthier life. It will make a person improve resilience and cope with life.

Mental disorder

The mental health of a person is influenced by various factors or events that can improve or disturb it. Genetics will also play a role in affecting mental health.

What does mental illness mean?

Mental illness is an umbrella term that encompasses various conditions that affect the way in which a person would feel and think. Having a mental illness will also affect a person’s ability to perform everyday routine.

Various factors like environment, genetics, and habit can influence mental health.

Mental illness is also called a mental disorder.

Many people can exhibit mental health concerns frequently but it is a problem only if the mental illness or its symptoms is repetitive and cause frequent stress affecting the functionality of a person.

Having a mental illness can make a person feel miserable and cause problems in everyday life. These problems will also affect people who are close to the person.

What are the types of mental health disorders?

Various healthcare professionals and doctors broadly classify mental illness under a few disorders like

Anxiety disorders

People suffering from anxiety disorders respond to few situations or objects with fear and exhibit physical signs of anxiety. These signs of anxiety include increased rate of heartbeat and excessive sweating.

Anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person is not responding appropriately in a given situation. Mostly they fail to control the response that interferes with normal functioning.

Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and various phobias.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are also called affective disorders that involve a feeling of sadness or episodes of feeling poorly happy.

These fluctuations can go from being excessively happy to extreme sadness. Some of the mood disorders are bipolar disorder depression and cyclothymic disorder.

Psychotic disorders

Psychotic disorders involve distorted thinking. Hallucinations and delusions are the two most common psychotic disorders.

Hallucination involves experiencing images or sounds that or not real. A person will accept delusions or false beliefs as true despite the evidence.  

Schizophrenia is a classic example of a psychotic disorder.

Eating disorder

Such disorders involve extreme attitudes and behaviour involving food and weight.  These disorders can make a person be preoccupied with food accompanied by concerns of body weight or obesity.

Impulse control in addition to disorders

People with impulse control disorder or people who cannot resist their urges or impulses to perform certain acts that could be harmful to them or others.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

People suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder or swamped with constant thoughts or fear that will cause them to perform a particular routine.

These fears are often disturbing thoughts that are like an obsession to them. A person with a fear of germs constantly washing their hands, the classic example of OCD.

Dissociative disorders

People suffering from disassociative disorders will have extreme disturbances or changes in memories and consciousness.

They will have difficulty in understanding and validating their surroundings. They are also consumed with too much stress, which is caused by a traumatic event, accident or a disaster that is witnessed or experienced by a person.  

Factitious disorder

These disorders or conditions where a person wontedly creates or complains of symptoms in order to receive the role of a patient in need of help.

Tic disorder

People with tic disorder make unusual sounds or display body movements that or quickly sudden repeated and uncontrollable. Mostly these sounds and movements are involuntarily done by that person.

These are the major classification of mental illness, however other diseases or health conditions that include various sleep-deprived problems and dementia or also classified as mental illnesses because they involve the brain and the problem is related to it. Such a mental illness can make a person exhibit various symptoms.

What are the symptoms exhibited by a mentally ill person?

Every mental illness can cause its own symptoms but there are a few common characteristics signs and symptoms exhibited by a person with a mental health problem.

Some of the commonly exhibited mental health symptoms are as follows

  • Not consuming enough food
  • Excessive eating
  • Sleeplessness
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unexplained body pains
  • Feeling lost
  • Alcoholism
  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Hearing voices in the head
  • Thoughts of hurting oneself or other people
  • Feeling sad and  
  • Excessive fear.

The symptoms exhibited by a person may vary depending upon how severe their illness is.

Knowing the cause can help identify the illness and provide necessary treatment.

What can cause mental illness?

As mentioned above mental illness is an umbrella term with varying conditions that can trigger its cause.

Factors like family history and genes life-altering experiences chemical imbalance in the brain or a brain injury can cause mental illness.

At times when a mother is exposed to a certain virus, it can damage the brain of a child during pregnancy and can cause mental illness.

There are a few factors that create problems, such factors are called risk factors.

What are the common risk factors of mental illness?

Some of the biophysical risk factors include

  • History of mental health problems prevalent in the family
  • Complications during birth
  • Brain injury
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Excessive alcoholism
  • Malnutrition
  • Lack of sleep

Some of the physiological stress factors include

  • Stressful episodes of everyday life
  • Traumatic life experiences

A doctor would usually use these factors as a determinant to examine mental health

Diagnosis of mental illness

When a person communicates with the doctor about their mental health, they undergo a series of examinations to reach a final diagnosis.

The diagnosis includes physical examination, blood test, laboratory tests and a questionnaire.

With the help of a questionnaire, a doctor can understand the thoughts of a person and how we respond and react to certain events and scenarios.

World mental health Day

How does a doctor treat mental health illness?

Treatment for mental health disorders is from person to person. One size fits all approach is not applicable to treating mental health.

After various examinations, a doctor will figure out ways to combine treatments and medications in various approaches to provide optimal treatment for mental illness.


Medications like anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers are used to treat mental health problems and fight against the symptoms exhibited.


Few therapies like talk therapy will serve as an opportunity for a person to talk with the mental health care provider and exhibit their thoughts and feelings.

The therapist would act as a mediator who helps the patient to learn and cope with the help of various techniques or strategies to efficiently manage their symptoms.

Lifestyle treatment

There are various alternative treatments that can be used to treat side effects but cannot eliminate mental health issues.

Search remedies are effective in managing symptoms, but cannot address the main problem.

Such treatment includes avoiding alcohol or drugs and incorporating healthy lifestyle practices that can improve a person’s overall well-being.

Mental illness recovery

Most individuals with mental illness will receive treatments and find them effective. The treatment makes a person feel better, however, there are few chronic illnesses that can be managed with proper treatment but cannot be cured.

Recovering from mental illness requires constant attention to monitoring physical and mental health.

When the symptoms exhibited by a person seem uncontrollable medical supervision is mandatory.

To sum up

Mental illness or mental health disorders involves a range of health conditions or disorders that will affect a person’s ability to think behave and feel.

Many people have mental illness and the symptoms are exhibited from time to time however it is a serious problem when the symptoms affect the functionality of a person.

Searching for illness can make a person feel miserable and cause problems in daily life; therefore, proper treatment diagnosis recovery is essential.


1.Is there a cure for mental health problems?

Most of the mental health issues are curable except few. Even those few cases effective treatment strategies might give symptomatic relief.

2.What do I do if the support doesn’t help?

If the support seems to be inadequate then being patient is advised. There are various groups that offer emotional support and reassurance for people with mental illness.

3.How do I deal with someone telling me what to do? 

If someone voices their opinion on a person thanking them for their opinion is expected. Considering various factors and analyzing if their opinion would be suitable for us and taking it or not is a personal choice.

4.What are the three effects that mental health can have on a person’s life?

If there is poor mental health there can be significant tiredness, a low level of energy and trouble sleeping in a person ‘s life. However, there may be other issues like attachment hallucinations and difficulty with emotion handling.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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