How to Recognize Mental Illness


How to Recognize Mental Illness

Jasmine stood in the frozen food section of her local grocery store, her hands sweaty, chest pounding and her thoughts racing. Although nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary in the store she could not gain control of her racing thoughts. She looked left then right quickly trying desperately not to call attention to herself. She left her basket full of items for the week that she had wanted to prepare and raced quickly but quietly towards the nearest exit. She walked hurriedly to her car. Her hands were trembling, she fumbled with her keys still on the edge of tears finally the door unlocked and she was able to get into her car. Once she was safety in she began to cry and breathe heavily. She was having a panic attack. A friend had mentioned to her the idea of counseling once before yet she hadn’t made the attempt to call just yet. Things were starting to get out of control for her, she needed to make a change.

 What is Mental Illness

Mental illness can be a behavioral or mental issue that blocks or disrupts the daily function of a person. This means it can prevent or interfere with the way a person behaves, thinks and feels. It may also interrupt the person’s ability to interacting with others. The person may experience development or social difficulties. It disrupts the person’s ability to cope with a variety of life experiences. You may experience or recognize in someone close to you symptoms that include but are not limited to:

  • Easily angered, aggression and violence
  • Extended periods of sadness
  • Isolating self from others
  • Inability to think clearly and make rational decisions
  • Extreme worriedness and fear
  • Continued sleep difficulties
  • Inability to cope with life situations
  • Extended periods of mania
  • Hearing voices when no one is around
  • Seeing things that are not there
  • Suicidal plans
  • Changes in sex drive

Who is Affected

It is important to know that mental illness can affect anyone at any time in life. (1) One in four adults−approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year. Just as in the story of Jasmine we can clearly see that this issue can impact anyone anywhere. Although it can be challenging to discuss this topic it is important for those that are struggling and those that know of people that are struggling encourage them to get help. Mental illness does not discriminate it can affect all ethnicities, income levels, ages, gender, sexual orientations, and religions. Counseling is a very important way to begin the process.

Getting help is such an important step in successfully addressing a mental health issue. By appropriately treating the mental illness the person can regain control of their life. If a person has been suffering from some form of mental illness whether it is depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue once that person develops skills to face the issue they no longer have to be overpowered by the mental illness.

 Treatment Options

Facing life with a mental illness can be very difficult and isolating. There are many options to consider as forms of treatment for a mental health issue. A person may want to consider options such as therapy/counseling, medication, support groups and exercise to begin facing the challenge of mental illness. Support from family and friends along with other services can also help a person successfully reclaim their life.

Helpful Resources:

Mental Health America

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Suicide Hotline

Reference: 1 National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Statistics: Any Disorder Among Adults. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from



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Photo above “Depression please cut to the chase. “ by darcyadelaide is licensed under CC BY 2.0