Mental Health Signs, Symptoms & Effects

Mental health disorders, also known as mental illnesses or psychiatric disorders, refer to a wide range of conditions that can affect a person’s thoughts, emotions, behavior, and overall mental well-being. These disorders can vary in severity, duration, and impact, and they can occur in people of all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

It is important to note that mental health disorders are not a sign of weakness or personal failure. They are complex conditions that can result from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. There is help available for mental health disorders, and you do not have to suffer alone.  

At Bronson Behavioral Health Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, we believe that reducing stigma and promoting access to mental health resources is essential. This ensures that people who have mental health disorders receive the help and support they need. By understanding and addressing mental health concerns, we can adopt a more compassionate and inclusive community where people can find lasting healing. 

Signs & Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders generally involve a combination of mood disturbances, emotional troubles, and behavioral challenges. Signs and symptoms of mental health disorders can vary depending on the specific condition, and there is often a lot of overlap between disorders.  

Common signs and symptoms associated with mental health disorders include: 

  • Persistent sadness 
  • Mood changes 
  • Anxiety or excessive worrying 
  • Changes in sleep patterns 
  • Changes in appetite or weight 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure 
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Feeling apathetic 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships  
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions 
  • Fatigue or lack of energy 
  • Frequent headaches, stomachaches, body aches, or other unexplained physical symptoms  
  • Changes in personality 
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide 

It is important to note that if someone has one or more of these symptoms, it does not automatically mean that they have a mental health disorder. Many factors can contribute to temporary changes in thoughts, emotions, and behavior, such as stress, grief, and other life events. However, it is essential to recognize these symptoms and know when to seek professional help if they persist, worsen, or significantly impact daily functioning. 

In some cases, people may require more intensive support and stabilization, particularly if they have severe symptoms of a mental health disorder or pose a risk to themselves or others. Inpatient programs, such as those offered at Bronson Behavioral Health Hospital, can play a vital role in providing immediate stabilization and emotional support for people who are struggling with a mental health disorder. 

Mental Health Disorder Statistics

Millions of people suffer from mental illnesses every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 8 people throughout the world have a mental health disorder. However, only a fraction of these people actually receive professional help. 

According to a 2021 study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1 in 5 U.S. adults, or 22.8% of the population, live with a mental health disorder. Additional data from this study reveal that: 

  • 27.2% of adults who are suffering from a mental health disorder are female, while only 18.1% are male. 
  • More than a third of people who have a mental health disorder are young adults ages 18-25. 
  • Less than half of people who have a mental health disorder receive professional help, highlighting the need for more education on available mental healthcare services. 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that people who have a mental illness, like depression, are 40% more likely than the general population to develop cardiovascular or metabolic disease. The rate of unemployment is higher for those who have a mental illness, and more than 20% of adults experiencing homelessness in the U.S. are living with a mental illness.  

Causes & Risk Factors 

The causes of mental health disorders are complex and can vary depending on the specific disorder. Mental health disorders often result from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.  

Factors that can contribute to the development of mental health disorders include: 

  • Genetics and family history: Having a family history of mental health disorders can increase the risk for developing or make someone more susceptible to having certain conditions. 
  • Biological factors: Certain brain chemicals, hormonal imbalances, and other biological factors can play a role in the development of some mental health disorders. 
  • Environmental factors: Chronic stress, living in poverty or unstable conditions, and being exposed to violence can also contribute to the development of mental health disorders. 
  • Trauma: Traumatic experiences, such as abuse, assault, war, and natural disasters, can raise the chances of developing a mental health disorder. 
  • Substance abuse: Substance use can disrupt brain chemistry, worsen an existing mental health disorder, and trigger the onset of a mental health disorder. 
  • Chronic medical conditions: Some chronic medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and chronic pain, can increase the risk for developing mental health disorders. The emotional and psychological stress associated with managing a chronic illness can contribute to the development of mental health concerns. 
  • Social and cultural factors: Social isolation, discrimination, stigma, and a lack of social support can impact mental health and increase the risk for developing mental health disorders.  

It is important to note that the presence of these risk factors does not guarantee the development of a mental health disorder. Mental health conditions are complex and can be influenced by a combination of factors.  

Effects of Untreated Mental Health Disorders

If left untreated, mental health disorders can significantly impact someone’s thoughts, feelings, mood, behavior, and daily functioning.  

Potential effects of untreated mental health disorders include: 

  • Impaired quality of life 
  • Persistent distress 
  • Physical health problems  
  • Relationship difficulties 
  • Social isolation  
  • Impaired work or academic performance, decreased productivity, and job loss 
  • Financial difficulties 
  • Increased risk for self-harming behaviors and suicide 
  • Co-occurring substance abuse 

People who are struggling with a mental health disorder may experience constant feelings of hopelessness, emotional pain, or loneliness. When someone doesn’t receive proper care for a mental health disorder, it can significantly impact their overall well-being.  

It is important to note that with appropriate care, support, and intervention, many of these negative effects can be lessened. Seeking help from the compassionate behavioral health professionals at Bronson Behavioral Health Hospital can enhance your daily functioning and contribute to an overall higher quality of life. 

Managing Mental Health Disorder Symptoms

If you have symptoms of a mental health disorder, it’s important to meet with a mental health professional who can provide personalized guidance and support. 

However, here are some general tips that may be helpful in managing symptoms of a mental health disorder: 

  • Engage in self-care: Prioritize self-care activities that promote overall well-being, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and getting adequate sleep. 
  • Build a support system: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or support groups that can provide understanding, encouragement, and empathy. Sharing your experiences with others who may be going through similar challenges can be helpful. 
  • Practice stress management techniques: Explore and engage in stress management techniques that bring you joy and relaxation, such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, yoga, crafts, and journaling. 
  • Maintain a routine: Establishing and maintaining a structured routine each day can provide you with stability and a sense of control.  
  • Avoid self-medication: Avoid using drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult emotions or to alleviate the symptoms of a mental health disorder. Substance use can worsen mental health conditions and create additional challenges. 
  • Monitor and track your symptoms: Keep a journal or use digital tools to track the specific symptoms you’re experiencing, triggers, and your progress. This can provide valuable insights and help you identify patterns or trends in your mental health. 
  • Be patient with yourself: Remember that managing your mental health takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and practice self-compassion. Celebrate small victories and be understanding during setbacks and challenging times. 

Co-Occurring Disorders

According to NAMI, 33.5% of adults in the U.S. who have a mental illness, or 19.4 million people, also suffer from a co-occurring substance use disorder. Substance use disorders can involve alcohol, opioids, stimulants, cannabis, sedatives, or other substances. People who have untreated mental health disorders may turn to substances as a means of self-medication or symptom relief. This ends up creating a vicious cycle of dependence that can negatively impact their overall health and well-being. 

Co-occurring substance use disorders, also known as dual diagnosis or comorbid disorders, occur when someone has both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder simultaneously. These conditions often interact and influence each other, making diagnosis and healing more complex.  

Substance use can worsen symptoms of mental health disorders, impair judgment, aggravate mood swings, increase the risk for self-harm and suicidal ideation, and interfere with the effectiveness of mental healthcare.  

At Bronson Behavioral Health Hospital, our compassionate team is dedicated to providing a safe and nurturing space where people who have mental health disorders and co-occurring substance use disorders can confidently pursue healing.  

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Bronson Behavioral Health Hospital. 

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