People with Depression or Mental Illness Have Options


Due to the stigma often attached to mental illness, many people fear a diagnosis of depression or other mental health disorder. In truth, mental health disorders are surprisingly common. Each year, it is estimated that one in five adults in the U.S. is affected by mental illness. Mental illness can impact anyone, regardless of sex, age, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Depression is a common type of mental illness. About 9% of Americans report being depressed occasionally. More severe depression, or having a major depressive episode, affects 16 million U.S. adults annually. Beyond depression, there are a number of other common mental illnesses. These include anxiety disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia. The good news is that mental illness is treatable. A variety of medications and other psychiatric treatment methods are available to help people with mental illness live productive, satisfying lives.

Signs of Depression and Mental Illness

Signs of depression and mental illness can vary from person to person. Knowing some of the most common signs can be helpful in identifying symptoms in ourselves, friends or loved ones. Some signs commonly associated with depression include:

  • Feeling hopeless and/or helpless
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Feeling sad and/or anxious
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in work, hobbies and social activities
  • Changes in appetite (loss of appetite or eating too much)
  • Body aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts

Signs of other mental illnesses can include:

  • Excessive worry or fear
  • Significant changes in mood (extreme highs and lows)
  • Feelings of paranoia
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Abuse of alcohol and drugs
  • Difficulty handling everyday stress
  • Trouble understanding and interacting in social situations

Treatments Including Prescriptions

When dealing with depression or mental illness, it is important to work with a doctor. The first step the doctor will take is ruling out any physical disorders that may be causing the symptoms. The next step will be setting up an effective treatment plan. This plan may include prescription medication and/or psychotherapy or counseling. For depression, people often do better with both prescription medication and psychotherapy. There are a variety of medications used for depression. It is important to work with a doctor to determine which medication will work best for each individual.

Due to advances in medication development, a number of options are available to treat other mental illnesses as well. Beyond antidepressants, commonly used drugs include anti-anxiety, antipsychotic, mood stabilizer and stimulant drugs. These drugs can address mental illnesses, such as different types of anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Along with medication, counseling and other psychiatric rehabilitation strategies are essential in helping those with mental illness recover.

Seeking Therapy

Therapy for depression and mental illness is an important part of healing. Seeking therapy can feel scary and daunting for some people. It is estimated that half of those with mental illness do not receive treatment. A good place to start is with a family physician. He or she can rule out other health issues, prescribe medications and refer the patient to a psychiatrist or other healthcare provider. Psychiatrists are medical doctors that can prescribe medication and provide psychotherapy. Other providers, such as psychologists, counselors and social workers, can provide counseling and psychotherapy. Beyond individual therapy, support groups are an additional resource for people with mental illness. Support groups are typically set-up for people with mental illness or for the family and friends of those suffering. Some groups support both the person with mental illness and their loved ones. Psychoeducation is another avenue that can be helpful. Its purpose is to empower those suffering from mental illness by providing education and management techniques about their disease.

Counseling Options

Different types of counseling are available for people with depression and mental illness. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) works on changing unhealthy patterns. It can be effective for a wide range of mental illnesses including depression, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, anxiety and schizophrenia. Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is typically a short-term therapy that focuses on improving interpersonal relationships to improve mental health issues and social functioning. IPT can be helpful in treating depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a technique used to address post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It works by helping an individual replace negative reactions to painful memories into more positive ones. Psychodynamic therapy is another popular technique. It focuses on helping clients recognize and resolve subconscious, negative behavior patterns that may be impacting their lives. It can be helpful for treating anxiety, panic disorders, PTSD and personality disorders.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor is it meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Any treatment or advice used may have varying results between individuals. Readers with health-related questions, are always encouraged to seek proper consultation with a physician or certified healthcare provider. No information on this website should be used to ignore any medical or health-related advice, nor should it be the root cause for a delay in a consultation with a physician or a certified healthcare provider.

No information on this website should be used to start the use of dietary supplements and vitamins, natural and herbal products, homeopathic medicine and other mentioned products prior to a consultation with a physician or certified healthcare provider.