Anyone can call the POWER Line, including women or men who are struggling with substance use and those concerned about a loved one.

Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. Fortunately, there are tools that can help improve your mental health. You can learn to manage anger and frustration, recognize when trauma may be affecting your mental health, challenge negative thinking patterns, and make time to take care of yourself.

Mental illnesses involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior and can affect how we relate to others and make choices. Throughout the pandemic, many people who had never experienced mental health challenges found themselves struggling for the first time. In fact, of the almost half a million individuals that took the anxiety screening at MHAscreening.org, 79% showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety.

Signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

Causes

Mental illnesses, in general, are thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation may trigger it.

Risk factors for developing a mental illness include:

  • A family history of mental illness
  • Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one’s death or a divorce
  • An ongoing (chronic) medical condition, such as diabetes
  • Brain damage as a result of a serious injury, such as a violent blow to the head
  • Traumatic experiences, such as military combat or assault
  • Use of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • A childhood history of abuse or neglect

Now, more than ever, we need to combat the stigma surrounding mental health concerns.

Mental health disorders are common, recurrent, and often serious. Fortunately, they are also treatable, and many people do recover. However, most mental illnesses don’t improve on their own and may get worse over time if untreated. If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness, see your primary care provider or a mental health professional.

You can also call 1-800-487-4889, a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. 

People with mental illness are more likely to experience a substance use disorder than those not affected by a mental illness. The coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder is referred to as co-occurring disorders. If you or someone you know may be struggling with a co-occurring disorder, you can call the POWER Line at 412-243-8755.

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