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"What I do now is I train in the mornings, and people ask me why I do it. I do it for two reasons: first of all, to keep in shape, but secondly, I think training, sport, and physical activity, eating right and taking my herbs/vitamins are really good for mental health."

Mental Illness 

Mental illness has been recognized in people dating back to days of Ancient Greece and Rome. A number of disturbances that were described included feelings of melancholy, hysteria and phobias. The concept that mental illness must be related to biology was first considered by Hippocrates. While at this time serious conditions such as schizophrenia were not yet recognized, the thought that these conditions were related to the brain was there.

As time passed, several psychiatric theories developed and even crude treatments were developed to treat individuals. Many of these treatments and theories for mental illness were developed by Islamic medicine in the Middle East. One of the most notable doctors of the 8th Century who was noted for his theories and treatments was the physician Rhazes of the Baghdad Hospital.

At the start of the 20th Century, there were only about a dozen officially recognized conditions, but by 1952 nearly 192 conditions were known and today the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) lists 374.

Understanding Mental Illness and Diagnosis

Many people are confused by mental illness and many will claim that they simply do not exist, that the condition is caused by the person experiencing it. However, everyday there are counselors who are diagnosing people as having mental illness conditions and because of this it makes it difficult to determine whether or not a diagnosis is correct. Also, because of this, there are many controversies surrounding these conditions.

Mental health is essential for everyday life. Most people are able to go through life without any glitches in their mental process, but others seem to have constant interruptions. It is these interruptions that show us that there is something going wrong in the brain of these individuals and that there is an existing problem.

We need to look at different diagnoses and symptoms to understand the interruptions that occur in the brain. For example, we should take bipolar depression as an example. This is one of the most common disorders diagnosed in today’s society. In fact, you probably know somebody with bipolar depression you just don’t know that they have it. Bipolar is very common, but many people don’t fully understand the condition. Bipolar is a chemical imbalance in the brain. This means that the brain is denied of vital nutrients that it needs to maintain a stable mindset. The problem is that many people who are diagnosed with the condition do not have their full life experiences taken into consideration. We all experience stress, trauma and drama in our lives. However, not everybody deals with these stressors in the same manner as somebody else would and nobody should be expected to deal with these stressors in the same manner as someone else would. There is a process that takes place that brings on the condition of bipolar depression.

The first thing that you must consider is that we all have “triggers.” These triggers are the stressful events that happen in life. Now, everybody deals with these differently. 

Some people will respond negatively and others ignore. Those individuals who ignore these issues are often not hearing the messages in between. This is what separates the mentally ill mind from the “normal” mind. The mentally ill mind tends to absorb everything in life that is said. The hear it all and they let all of that process in their brains until it begins to cause confusion. The “normal” mind tends to only listen to what it wants to listen to and therefore they do not have these conflicting thoughts to cause the mental confusion. To better understand this process, it helps to also understand cognitive mental health disorders and how these are related to the confusion that occurs in the mind.

Cognitive Mental Health Disorders

Cognitive health disorders include:

  • Dementia
  • Delirium
  • Alcohol-induced disorders

There are also several others that are related and all of these are constantly being studied so that we may gain a better understanding of them. Most of these disorders have several common denominators such as loss of memory. Others are linked brain and biological disease, such as alcoholism and drug addiction. Often people who suffer from cognitive disorders have issues with reasoning and often their speech. They tend to lack good judgment and their comprehension is different from the “normal” mind. These individuals also tend to suffer from another conditions such as:

  • Depression 
  • Irritation
  • Paranoia

There are several other related symptoms that are easily misdiagnosed with other conditions, such as bipolar, as bipolar condition encompasses several of these symptoms as well.

Delirium is one that is often confused because it includes:

  • Signals confusion
  • Speech problems
  • Loss of memory
  • Fear
  • Depression

Many of these same symptoms are apparent in other mental illnesses, but delirium alsohas several physical effects on the body as well such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Disturbance in sleep

All of these physical symptoms as well as the mental confusion cause the person to not be able to find comfort in their life. Many studies have shown that medications can increase their symptoms as well to the point that the physical symptoms express themselves in strokes and heart attacks.

Dementia is a type of Alzheimer’s disease. This causes the person to have issues with memory retention as well as learning and language. There are several physical conditions that can cause the onset of dementia such as AIDS, strokes, heart failures and other chronic conditions. People that suffer from dementia also tend to suffer in personal hygiene and poor judgment as well. They tend to avoid others, alter their personality and have social anxiety in general. Many are manic depressive and should

completely avoid alcohol. Mentally ill patients tend to resort to drugs and alcohol and this only increases the symptoms of their condition and makes it worse, although it provides them temporary relief from their pain and suffering. However, alcohol and drugs are not a solution to anything in life and should be completely avoided by these individuals, as they are not likely to be able to keep their drinking at a social level.

There are alcohol induced disorders that have been classified as cognitive disorders because of the similar symptoms. In most of these cases the condition is a direct result of the condition, although this is not true of all individuals. Many individuals who are mentally ill have never touched drugs and alcohol, although many therapists will try to use alcohol and drugs as a reason for their condition. Those disorders that are alcohol induced are referred to as “Korsakoff’s Syndrome” and it main affects the memory directly. Symptoms of this condition include:

  •  Memory loss
  •  Denial
  •  Indifferences
  •  Violent behaviors

Most of these conditions can be directly linked to nutritional deficiencies because the alcoholic and drug user tend to not live very healthy and eat poorly. Alcoholism is difficult to treat, but it is possible. However, it does require a lot of diligence by the patient and they must accept that they have a problem in order for recovery to occur. There are medications and treatments that can be used to assist the person and many will need therapy with high dosages of B-complex vitamins. If the patient is still in the early stages of alcoholism it will be easier to treat them as long as they are willing. Alcoholism is a very serious condition and it even affects children.

Therapists are constantly looking for new ways to treat mental illness. There are millions of individuals around the world who suffer from mental illnesses and many rarely receive the care that they should. 

The Roots of Mental Health Issues

There are several different types of mental illnesses and all have a root that prompts them to manifest somewhere in a person’s life. There are various conditions that people may suffer from including:

  • Adjustment disorders
  • Bipolar
  • Sexual disorders
  • DementiaDelirium
  • Manic Depression

Adjustment disorders are common when a person has a hard time adapting to stress in their life. Bipolar is another common disorder that is often diagnosed in individuals, but this condition can easily be misconstrued and can be misdiagnosed. Bipolar or manic depression affects individuals and often includes symptoms such as:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Excessive worrying
  • Mood swings

These individuals seem to go from extreme highs to extreme lows in just a matter of minutes. They can literally drive a person crazy if they are not treated immediately.

These individuals often threaten suicide, although many are just looking for attention and never actually attempt suicide. This condition is directly linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain and the condition is more neurological than physiological. This condition also has been linked to genetics and is likely to be passed on in a family. Many patients that have been diagnosed have a family history of similar behavior and mood swings. Many of these chemical disorders are often linked back to childhood development and trauma that the person sustained and never received treatment for. If the trauma is allowed to fester and the person never has to accept and deal with it, bipolar symptoms will occur.

Sexual disorders also occur in a similar way. These disorders are separate from bipolar and other adjustment disorders. Sexual deviation is often linked to abuse, although not always, pornography, and other types of negative sexual behaviors. Recent studies have proven, however, that serial killers and sociopath behaviors are hereditary. Some studies have linked these conditions to child abuse and this may be the case in some instances, but not necessary all instances. Sexual disorders are psychological and there have been links of brain impairments that cause interruptions in the brain’s processes which cause this behavior to manifest itself.

Dementia and delirium are mind disorders that tend to manifest themselves in older individuals. These cause memory loss and confusion. These can be tricky to diagnose if the patient is young as the condition could 

be caused by other illnesses in young individuals. 

What You Should Ask a Mental Health Expert

If you or a family member or friend is in therapy there are questions you should ask to avoid problems. The expertise level of therapists do vary and not all are qualified to diagnose mental illness. If you suspect that you have a disorder you should do your best to be very accurate on your symptoms, research them and document them. If you

go to a therapist you will be ahead of the game and by knowing and researching your symptoms you may be able to prevent an incorrect diagnosis.

When you visit a therapist they will talk to you and listen to you. They will search for many signs and disturbances in your thinking patterns. Therapists will search for symptoms such as

  • Vague thoughts
  • Fleeting ideas
  • Peripheral thought patterns
  • Blocking thoughts
  • Disassociation
  • Break in reality
  • Paranoia

If the patient displays a disturbance in their thinking patterns, the therapist may consider psychosis. Counselors will consider schizophrenia or psychosis if the patient shows a break in reality. Paranoid and paranoia may be misconstrued if the therapist doesn’t have a good understanding between the two conditions. Schizophrenics are often paranoid and may suffer from posttraumatic stress in the early stages. If a patient provides answers to questions that are unrelated, the therapist may consider a potential mental illness. Another area of concern is if the patient speaks in fragments of thoughts and don’t deliver complete sentences or ideas. This is known as a fleeting thought process. If a patient is illustrating thoughts that are off the subject, the therapist may also show concern.

Other areas that are considered include language. Some patients may simply have a lack of education, but they should be able to speak in a comprehensible manner. It is important that the patient is not misdiagnosed simply because they have poor communication skills. 

Because every person is different and may have a different level of education it is important that that the therapist pay attention to symptoms that are linked to mental health. Be certain to ask the therapist questions any time there is a diagnosis and what the diagnosis is based on. For example, if the patient is telling the therapist about a dream and all of a sudden can’t remember what they are talking about, this can be an evident that the patient has suffered trauma. The symptoms are in front of the therapist, but it is wise to continue therapy to verify the diagnosis.

Many therapists are not trained sufficiently in certain conditions, such as Multiple Personality Disorder. These conditions require you to carefully examine the person because they may only be suffering from dementia. However, if they are suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder it is often because they are trying to block traumatic memories to avoid pain.

It is always wise to ask questions when you are visiting a therapist and this can also help them to avoid any mistakes. A healthy mind is important and mental health should not be taken lightly. Therapists are constantly studying the mind and often use the guinea pig method until they figure out what the issue is. Mental health symptoms are serious and should not be taken lightly. 



Relating to others with mental illness can be difficult. If you have a mental illness then the only people who often understand you may be your therapist or doctor and even those people will sometimes fail. Many patients will complain that their therapist is not helping them and they will complain about the medication and treatment they receive. The problem is that there is a communication breakdown between the two people and patients do not always do their best to follow instructions and listen to their therapist.

Often when a patient complains there is a reason and something is not working somewhere. It is important that if the patient is complaining of voices or hallucinations telling them things, you must listen to them as they can become dangerous. Do not simply push it away and call them crazy. You will often have to read between the lines

with patients. It is important that they are understood and that they are listened to so that you can help them cope with their problems and symptoms. 


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