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Myths and Misconceptions of Mental Illness


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Mental illness, though seemingly elusive to much of the population, is hardly a rare phenomenon. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 18.2 percent of the adult population in America suffers from mental illness. That would mean one in five people in America have a mental illness. Despite this, we are severely uneducated on what mental illnesses are and what they do. Many don’t realize the severity of certain mental illnesses much less what they actually entail. It’s very difficult to diagnose mental illness because there are rarely physical manifestations like normal health problems. This does not, however, make mental illness any less a credible issue for many individuals. According to the same data gathered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 9.3 million American adults are severely effected by mental illness, impeding their daily activities. Though it can be hard to understand without first hand experience, mental illness is something that we can all learn about.

First lets start with mental-illness-graphicO. C. D. or obsessive compulsive disorder. Many think of the stereotypical neurotic man organizing his clothes by color or sorting his socks in neat piles. While those symptoms can take place, there’s more than that to this mental illness. O. C. D. is an impulse, an impulse so strong it is the foremost thought on this person’s mind until they cannot think of anything but that task they must complete. It is not just a need to arrange things but us
ually there are very aggressive thoughts, involving violence towards others or oneself, especially if the task, such as organizing, doesn’t get completed. Not only that but it can come with great fear, too, fear of germs and contamination. O. C. D. is a lot more serious than just keeping food from touching on a plate, it is a need to do something a certain way for fear of something illogical happening.

Depression is very hard to understand because the natural instinct it to say, stop being sad and do something. Unfortunately, depression goes beyond that. Depression is a complete exhaustion, a chronic tiredness and lack of interest in even fun things, like hobbies or being with loved ones. Usually, the person feels completely worthless and helpless and is unable to do the things they want. In short they can’t simply get over it like people tell them to because it’s an illness, not something self imposed. If someone you know is suffering from depression the best thing to do is to be there for them, to support them and remind them that they’re life matters. There are many other varying symptoms of depress, such as loss of appetite, over or under sleeping, unexplained head aches, and trouble concentrating or remembering things, to keep in mind.

Bipolar disorder is not as simple as being happy one moment and then sad the next. It causes manic episodes of extreme happiness or depression that last usually long spans of time, but can completely change at any given second. The positive manic episodes usually make the person extremely energetic and impairs the persons judgement, making them restless, impulsive, easily agitated, and over confident in their own abilities. On the flip side, the depressed episodes involve a feeling of helplessness, withdrawal from friends and family, suicidal thoughts, extreme fatigue, and trouble concentrating. The episodes are very extreme, much more extreme than most give them credit for. Fortunately there are medicines out there to treat this condition.

There are many other mental disorders out there, but these are the most commonly misconstrued and misrepresented. Mental illness is not a weakness because it cannot be helped. Do not think anyone grappling with a mental illness is being weak for showing emotion, they are not being over dramatic. It is important to be there for that person, even if they are withdrawing from you. It is important we think of mental illness and understand to the fullest to help those who are suffering.

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The Student News Site of Severna Park High School
Myths and Misconceptions of Mental Illness