One of the problems with diagnosing mental health concerns is that the lines are often blurred. Many of us fear heights or cannot imagine speaking in front of others, but does that indicate normal behavior – or a mental health condition? What line exists between a lack of motivation and depression or between being shy and having social anxiety? Most people have lived with quirks in their personality for their entire lives, assuming the behaviors that plague them are just the way things are- but can they be overcome?
While not everyone who exhibits normal fear or anxiety has a mental health condition, there are ways to identify issues that can be addressed through coaching, counseling, and therapy.
Mental Health, Defined
Mental health represents the level of overall wellness regarding how people think, regulate their feelings, and behave. A mental disorder occurs when a significant and measurable disturbance affects an individual’s thought patterns and behaviors. These changes often cause some form of distress and prevent their ability to function as they once did. A mental health disorder may make it difficult to:
Maintain healthy relationships
- Do well at school or in the workplace, including learning delays
- Act appropriately in social settings
- Participate in activities that are beneficial or important
There are no absolute measures to determine what may be a mental health disorder, as factors such as culture and upbringing may influence behavioral patterns. Social expectations also play a significant role in determining what a mental disorder is and what is a behavioral quirk.
The American Psychiatric Association publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This guide outlines the signs and symptoms of several hundred mental health conditions common in society, such as PTSD, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.
The DSM offers diagnostic criteria based on symptoms’ nature, duration, and impact. It also explains the disorder’s standard course and the risk factors involved.
Mental Health Disorder Diagnosis
Several professionals are qualified to diagnose mental health, including psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and other mental health professionals. A diagnosis may be based on several factors, including:
- A personal or family history of physical illness or mental health disorders
- A physical examination to determine any condition that may be behind the symptoms
- Questions about personal concerns and the reasons behind seeking help
- Questions about recent life events or changes, such as trauma, relationship breakups, work issues, or a friend’s or relative’s death
- Surveys or tests that qualify feedback on thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in everyday situations
- Questions about past or present drug use, including alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs
- A history of trauma or abuse
- Questions about past or current violent or destructive thoughts
- Surveys or interviews with a parent or spouse
When is Treatment Recommended?
Each mental health disorder or condition manifests its own symptoms, and a professional opinion is necessary to truly understand the nature of the issue. Speaking generally, however, professional assistance may be needed if someone is experiencing the following:
- Noticeable changes in personality
- Changes in eating behaviors or sleep patterns
- An inability to cope with daily issues or problems
- A disconnect with normal activities
- Excessive or crippling anxiety
- Long periods of sadness, apathy, or depression
- Thoughts or statements about harming others
- Thoughts or statements about self-harm or suicide
- Substance abuse
- Extreme mood swings
- Inappropriate and excessive hostility or violent behavior
Sadly, many people with emotional disorders think their symptoms are a normal part of “who they are.” They may feel too guilty or ashamed to seek help and admit they have a problem. But seeking help and establishing a plan of action is often the best thing a person can do to finally address their issues and find relief and freedom.
Some of the most debilitating conditions are ignored because they are familiar and prolific in society – such as anxiety and depression. We have a great place to start if you are ready to take your life back and leave these issues behind you.
This short quiz, created by Denise Schonwald, a nationally certified mental health professional, will help you understand your personal situation and point you in the direction of healing. Fill out this questionnaire, then set up your free 30-minute consultation with Denise. Your mental health and wellness journey is just a few clicks away.