General FAQs

What does having a mental illness mean?
Mental illnesses are health conditions that disrupt an individual’s emotions, thoughts, relationships, and activities of daily living. Mental illnesses fall along a continuum of severity: some are mild and interfere with minimal aspects of life, such as phobias. Then there are serious mental illnesses that result in great impairment of an individual’s life. These disorders include major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

The most important thing to recognize is that mental illness are conditions that have nothing to do with the character of the individual the intelligence or their willpower. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas , mental illness is a condition of the brain’s biology.

What are the causes of mental illness?
The exact source of mental illness is unknown. Although research points to a combination of genetic, biological, psychosocial, and environmental factors as the root of most conditions.

Due to the complexity of these combinations there is no sure way to prevent mental illness. However, one can reduce their risk by seeking help when needed, practicing self care, and noting early warning signs.

What are the warning signs of mental illness?
Symptoms vary depending of the type and severity of the condition. The list below are of general symptoms that may suggest a mental health disorder, especially when multiple symptoms are experienced at once.

In adults:

Confused thinking

Extreme highs and lows in mood

Long-lasting sadness

Excessive fear, anxiety, and worry

Social withdrawal

Strong feelings of anger

Delusions or hallucinations

Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits

Thoughts of suicide

Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities

Denial of obvious problems

Many unexplained physical problems

Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol

Can Individuals with mental illness recover?
Early identification and treatment is vital for healing. Based on the nature of the illness there is a wide range of treatment available. With any type of treatment it is essential that the individual affected is proactive and completely engaged in their own recovery process.

Most individuals who are diagnosed and treated respond positively. There are some cases where symptoms return. However, with careful monitoring and management it is still possible to live a fulfilled and productive life.

What to do if someone you know appears to have symptoms of a mental disorder?
If you know someone who is having problems, do not assume that the problems will resolve itself. Let that person know that you care for them and that there are many treatment options available  If need be you yourself can speak with a mental health provider for guidance on what to do and what options are available for your loved one.
What treatment options are available?
There are several different treatment options available for individuals with mental illness. Some treatment options include counseling, psychotherapy, and medication management.
What to know when beginning treatment?
Beginning treatment is the most important step for individuals. This can be very scary and a bit overwhelming.  It is important to remember that continued involvement in treatment is key.

Here are some questions that will need to be answered:

What course of treatment will be most helpful with this diagnosis?

Will this course of treatment involve services from other specialists? If so, who will coordinate these other services?

What medications are generally used with this diagnosis? How soon will I know if the medication is effective?

Are there any risk factors associated with the medication?

What can I do to help in my treatment?

FAQs about medication

What to know before starting a new medication?
The best source for information about a medication is the provider prescribing them.

They will be able to answer questions including:

What is the medication supposed to do?

When should it take effect?

What side effects are common with the medication? What should I do if I experience side effects?

How do you monitor medications?

If I feel better after taking medications am I “cured” and can I stop taking it?
It is not an uncommon occurrence for individuals to stop taking their medication when they start to feel that their symptoms are under control. Others stop taking their medications due to side effects. Even though it may seem reasonable to stop taking your medication, most often symptoms return. It is very important that you and your provider work together before making any changes in treatment.

Additional problems with stopping medication is you may experience withdrawal symptoms that can be unpleasant. If you and your provider feel that a medication should be discontinued then the provider will slowly decrease the dosage so that these symptoms will not occur.

How can I get help paying for my medication?
Some pharmaceutical companies offer assistance programs for their medications. Drug discount cards are also available. Additionally, there are county, state, and national prescription programs that you may qualify for.