How To Recognize and Cope With Mental Illness in the Family


Mental illness is everywhere, and not as uncommon as you think. In fact, children suffer as much mental illness as adults, and a recent BBC News reported few days ago that one in three female students in the UK suffer from mental health problems, while the FDA says that 54 million Americans suffer from mental disorder annually.

The fact remains that people live in denial that a member of their family has mental health issues, and this is largely because of the physical and emotional challenges attached to having a mental patient in the family. But it is good to acknowledge it if a family member suffers from mental issues in case the individual grows violent and risks the peace of others in the family.

Mental Illness

What is mental illness?

Mental illness is described as a mental condition that makes it impossible for an individual to effectively manage or align his thoughts with his behaviour in a manner that disrupts daily routines and demands of everyday life.

Mental health experts say there are over 200 types of mental health disease, and not all of them manifests to the instant observation of people around. Not mental illnesses branch out as lunacy, some reveal themselves as anxiety disorders, dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder among others.

Mental illness is a combination of a physical, psychological, and emotional imbalance; and it may have occurred as a reaction to genetic, biochemical, and environmental stressors. It is difficult to state if an individual will recover fully from mental illness, but proper treatments could help stabilize the individual over a period of time.

Signs and symptoms of mental illnesses

It must be noted that the onset of mental illness is not instantaneous – except of course an individual if reacting to substance abuse. Hereunder however are some of the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses – and when a family member starts displaying a combination of these, help should be sought immediately:

  • Uncoordinated thoughts: When an individual is often confused and can’t seem to align fantasies and reality, then there is a problem and family members should watch out.
  • Unexplained irritability and sadness: When a family member suffers from prolonged depression and constant irritability, then such person may be displaying early signs of mental illness when combined with other symptoms.
  • Unfathomable mood swings: It is okay to have mood swings, but when this becomes persistent without any provocation or sensible reasons, then an individual could be losing it.
  • Unnecessary anxiety, worries and fears: Unfounded fears, unnecessary anxieties, and excessive could be signs of mental health problems and family members better watch out for these in any suddenly unpredictable member.
  • Withdrawal from society and other family members: When a family member suddenly withdraws from social circles and would not relate anymore with anyone, then others had better watch out for him or her. Mentally ill persons tend to get solitary and very irritable, and when they cannot be helped to snap out of it, then medical help should be arranged.
  • Change in sleeping and eating habits: When there is persistent and prolonged change in the eating and sleeping habits of an individual, then family members should seek external help to help the individual because he may be displaying early signs of mental illness.
  • Delusions and hallucinations: When a suspected family member is having hallucinations and seeing things or hearing voices that aren’t there, then medical authorities must be brought in to help the individual because he may be showing symptoms of mental illness.
  • Suicidal thoughts: Suicidal thoughts and attempts are the hallmarks of mental illness, and some patients might even become violent and endanger the lives of other family members. When an individual nurses suicidal thoughts, then he might be capable of either killing himself or killing others.
  • Inexplicable aggressions and anger: Unexplained anger and aggressions are possible signs of mental health problems, and any such family member must be looked after or helped via a management hospital.

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