Understanding Mental Illness | Developing an Appreciation for These Illnesses

Many people are in denial about their mental illness because of the long held stigma associated with such illnesses. Because of a lack of understanding, people often see mental illness as a character issue instead of a physiological issue. As a psychiatrist, I come across this issue very often. This is why one of my primary goals has been to educate patients about the physiological and genetic groundings of mental illness in order to lift this stigma and encourage individuals to seek medical help for their mental illness. Mental illness in many cases is very treatable. We see that with ADHD, often the effects and benefits of the medications can be observed within hours from the first dosing. With many antidepressants, we see nearly a 70% positive response rate on the first attempt to treat depression. Anxiety is very treatable with the wide variety of medicines available today. There are cases of depression that are situational versus clinical and anxiety is brought on by troubling circumstances rather than physiological issues; and we deal with these accordingly.

The only thing holding back a patient from living a full life of contentment is their not seeking medical help for their illness because they have heard about side effects or don’t want to accept the diagnosis of mental illness. The brain is like any other organ in the body, and therefore, can become diseased just like any other. When the brain has disease that is caused by genetics, trauma, stress or some other cause, often the only effective agent to bring balance back to the brain are the medications that increase the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain. If you are suffering from a mental illness and diet, exercise, or natural remedies have not caused the symptoms to cease, maybe you should re-think mental illness and compare it to diabetes. What if a diabetic could not control his or her insulin levels with exercise, weight control or diet; yet they didn’t want the label of being a diabetic so they never sought medical help?

What if your mental illness symptoms are the result of another medical problem, yet you failed to find this out because you feared going to a psychiatrist? In my psychiatry practice, I typically do a laboratory screening if one hasn't recently already been obtained to rule out or discover an underlying medical condition that might be causing the symptoms of anxiety, depression, psychosis, or inability to concentrate. One patient was found to have an elevated fasting glucose when he came to see me for symptoms of anxiety. I sent him back to his Primary Care Physician for a further medical work-up of this. It was soon discovered that he had diabetes and the insulin that was given to him took his anxiety symptoms away completely.

This website is full of articles dealing with the genetic factor of mental illness, factors that change the genes or aspects of the brain that cause mental illness; and discover that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. A wise fellow once told me “never trust someone who doesn’t have a bit of a limp”. What he was saying was that those who have fought and conquered issues in their lives are strong in perseverance, character and self esteem. View you illness as an opportunity to grow and improve yourself and learn how to make lemonade from lemons. There is another wise saying that goes, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger". If you can get through this, you will be all the stronger for it.

I encourage you to read some of the articles on this site and visit my new site Scottsdale Psychiatrist and learn about mental illness because this will give you the insight into the medical causes of the illnesses and the strength to seek help and return to a life of peace, fulfillment, and accomplishment; and achieve the goals in life that you would like to achieve. Usually, it is just taking the first step that is the toughest. But to reassure you, the majority of patients that I see comment on how they wished that they would have sought out help much sooner...sometimes years sooner.
This article is for informational purposes and not for diagnosing or treating any mental illness