Demystifying Mental Illness: How Hollywood And Society Get It Wrong

Thanks to movies, media, music, and literature there’s a lot of confusion about the realities of what mental illness is, and is not. Every year we see it glorified in characters ranging from heroic to downright dastardly, and we see it blown out of proportion and made the subject of ridicule everywhere we look. Most peoples understanding of mental illness comes from these sources, and thus the world at large has a very skewed view of what it means to suffer from a mental illness, with many thinking that those who deal with these issues should just “get over it” or that it’s something that can be cured by visiting a psychiatrist. The reality of mental illness is much more complicated than that, and in many cases, it cannot be cured, merely managed through techniques learned through working with a therapist.

So What Is Mental Illness Then?

Mental illness is defined as a disease that can result in changes in behavior and/or thought that range from mild to severe. In many cases these illnesses make it difficult to impossible to deal with the standard routine and demands of day to day life, causing endless problems for the ones suffering from it. Experts have classified over 200 variations of mental illness, with the most well known being dementia, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. These are just the tip of the iceberg though, as mental illness also includes illnesses like anorexia, bulimia, and body and gender dysphoria.

How Do I Know If I Or Someone I Love May Be Suffering From Mental Illness?
Some signs can indicate that you’re experiencing a mental illness, or that may allow you to identify that someone you know is. These signs are not definitive, but if enough of them are present, you may need to speak to a therapist or gently approach them your suspicions and offer support. The signs of mental illness can include:

• Fears, Anxieties, and Worries more than What May Be Considered Normal
• Extreme Emotional Highs and Lows
• Withdrawal from Social Activities
• Explosive and Sudden Anger
• Extended bouts of depression
• Confused thinking
• Delusional thoughts or ideas
• Sudden changes in sleeping or eating habits

Do Children Suffer From Mental Illness?
Young children can experience mental illness, and it can be tough to identify it in these cases. Children experience many complex changes as they grow and develop, and seemingly ordinary experiences can leave lasting impressions on them that may trigger mental illness. Signs that a child in your life may be experiencing mental illness include:

• Sudden changes in performance or behavior at school
• Nightmares that are persistent and severe
• Hyperactivity
• Worry and anxiety that results in refusing to go to school or bed
• Unexplained aggression and persistent disobedience
• Temper Tantrums that come out of nowhere

What Do I Do If I’m Worried That Someone Is In Crisis?
If you suspect that someone is at immediate risk of hurting themselves or others, then it’s time to pick up the phone and act. Your first call should be to 1-800-273-TALK, a 24-hour crisis center, or call 911 to reach professionals who can help. Then you should pick up the phone and call Dr. Markita Thompson at the Infinity Hope Center in Detroit, MI. They’ve been helping patients who have mental illness handle these concerns and go back to living healthy lives with their condition under control for years, and are ready to help you.

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