Mental Illness is Real

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Although the past several years have seen more awareness of mental health, there’s still an unfortunate stigma surrounding mental diseases.

Mental illnesses are true diseases. Although the past several years have seen more awareness of mental health, there’s still an unfortunate stigma surrounding mental diseases. In short, mental illnesses say as little about a person’s character as a broken leg or the flu, and therefore we shouldn’t treat those with mental illness any differently than we would someone with a broken leg or the flu. By that same token, a person with a broken leg shouldn’t go without help, or the leg could be permanently injured. The same goes for those with mental illnesses. The sooner they can receive help, the better. And help is out there.

Diagnosing mental illness

Mental illness must always be diagnosed by a medical professional. The first step would be to see a therapist or counselor. Sometimes, a person can get the help he or she needs from counseling sessions and types of behavioral therapy. This is the first step any good therapist or psychiatrist tries to go with. If therapy alone does not make a difference, or if the person feels like the symptoms are out of his or her control, then the therapist may recommend seeing a psychologist, who can provide a more complete diagnosis.

Medication

The psychiatrist may decide that the patient needs medicinal therapies. The doctor may prescribe a low dose of a medication and then work from there. Of course, the first prescription may not be the best fit. It can take several tries to get the combinations of drugs and their dosages right. Some may make the situation worse. Unfortunately, it can often take up to four weeks to see results, so figuring out the right medicines can be a long journey. Those who are dealing with the illness have to do their best to be patient, as do their loved ones. Also, patients are almost always encouraged to maintain counseling sessions along with the medication. There’s no quick fix.

Support groups

There are many support groups out there for those battling mental illness. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) features group therapy, which patients find helpful. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are probably the most famous type of group therapy meetings, and they’re not just for recovering alcoholics, either, but for anyone seeking a non-judgmental group. (Remember, alcoholism is also a disease.) People in support groups often appreciate that the other members of the group can truly empathize.

Any healing process is hard and long. The best thing any of us can do for a loved one with a mental illness is to provide unending love and support. Whatever we can do to help alleviate stress during the darkest times, such as helping with chores, running errands, or simply being present will give peace of mind. Sometimes people facing death go into depression, and helping a person get his or her affairs in order, such as researching final expense leads, might be invaluable. Remember, a broken bone doesn’t mend in a day, and neither does a plagued mind. Some illnesses, like arthritis or Crohn’s disease, are chronic and will never completely go away, but they can be managed. Again, the same is true with the mind. Many people face mental illnesses that will never go away. They may need to be in therapy and on medication for the rest of their lives. But, more than likely, their illness can be controlled and maintain, and they can lead normal, healthy, happy lives.

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