Depression and anxiety are a lot more common than we would think. 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, yet recognizing the signs and symptoms can be very challenging. Even if someone is showing signs of mental illness, the likelihood of them choosing to seek help is small.
Nevertheless, mental illnesses, much like any other disease, can cause tremendous damage if left untreated. Angie Hughes, LCPC, and Ariel Pozzi, LCSW, join the Pulse to discuss what the most common mental illnesses are, what symptoms to look for, and how to approach helping someone who might not be ready to seek help.
Some of the most common mental illnesses are Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Substance Abuse Disorder. Other severe diseases--such as Alzheimer's or Schizophrenia--are less common, but can share many of the same symptoms, at least during the early stages. For people experiencing mental illnesses, common symptoms may be tiredness, feelings of sadness, irritability, loss of interest, reduced or increased appetite, slow thinking or movements, trouble concentrating and making decisions, and unexpected physical problems, such as back pain or headaches. Anyone demonstrating these common signs should seek a professional evaluation early on.
If someone appears to be suffering from a mental illness, the first step is to make sure they are not suicidal. It might require asking some tough questions, but addressing suicidal thoughts is the most important thing to do first. If they are not suicidal, pushing for them to seek help might just push them away from you and cause them to become more guarded. Listen to them. Try to understand and empathize, and gently remind them that help is available.
Mental illnesses are much like physical illness. They can begin gradually and remain unnoticed for a long time, they can cause physical damage, and, if left untreated, they can become severe and challenging to overcome. There is not necessarily a "cure" for mental illnesses; there may be many years without symptoms, and then something can happen to cause the illness to resurface. More than anything, treatment is centered around helping you manage and adapt over the long term.
Angie and Ariel know how difficult the path to overcoming mental illnesses can be, but they also understand how important it is to have help along the way.
Crisis Text Line: 741741