What are Serious Mental Illnesses?
Mental illnesses are disorders that affect a person’s thinking, mood, and/or behavior —and they can range from mild to severe. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, nearly one-in-five adults live with a mental illness.
A mental illness that interferes with a person’s life and ability to function is called a serious mental illness (SMI). With the right treatment, people with SMI can live productive and enjoyable lives.
There are many kinds of serious mental illnesses. Common ones include:
- Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes intense shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. People have manic episodes in which they feel extremely happy or euphoric, and energized. Usually , they also have depressive episodes in which they feel deeply sad and have low energy.
- Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental disorders. Symptoms vary from person to person, but may include sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, pessimism, irritability, worthlessness, and fatigue. These symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy their life.
- Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that causes people to interpret reality abnormally. People may experience hallucinations, delusions, extremely disordered thinking and a reduced ability to function in their daily life.
Despite common misperceptions, having an SMI is not a choice, a weakness, or a character flaw. It is not something that just “passes” or can be “snapped out of” with willpower. The specific causes are unknown, but various factors can increase someone’s risk for mental illness including, family history, brain chemistry, and significant life events such as experiencing a trauma or death of a loved one.
Don’t struggle alone.
This information is brought to you by SAMSHA, for more information on mental illness, visit SAMHSA online at https://www.samhsa.gov/serious-mental-illness