May is Mental Health Awareness Month. To help bring more awareness to the struggles of mental health, we’ve teamed up with Mental Health America to promote mental health, prevent disorders and to assist in educating all Americans about mental disorders. Your car donation to the Mental Health America charity headquartered in Virginia can help a person suffering from mental illness. Your unwanted vehicle can make a difference in advocating for this cause.
What is Mental Illness?
A mental illness is a health condition that affects an individual’s behavior, thinking or feelings – or even all three – which results in difficulty functioning and distress in that individual. Like many diseases, mental illness can be mild in some instances or quite severe in other cases. Those who suffer from mental illness may not necessarily look sick or behave like they are suffering while others might display unambiguous signs like withdrawal, confusion, or agitation.
Among the many different types of mental illness are schizophrenia, autism, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Not every disease in the brain is considered a mental illness. Some like Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis are brain disorders which are categorized as neurological diseases and not mental illness. However, the lines in between neurological disorders and mental illness are sometimes fuzzy. Scientists have learned that mental illness is correlated with changes in the structure, function and chemistry of the brain. There is a biological footing in mental illness.
Warning Signs of Mental Illness
There are specific characteristic symptoms for each mental illness, yet some warning signals to look for are general. If you have a loved one who show some of these general warning symptoms, you may want to consider getting them professional help right away.
- Apparent change in personality
- Obvious change in eating and sleeping
- Less or no ability to cope with daily challenges or problems
- Excessive anxieties
- Extravagant or bizarre ideas
- Drawn-out depression and/or apathy
- Expressions of self-harm or suicide
- Excessive hostility, violence, or anger
- Drastic mood swings, either high or low
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
The Brain and Mental Illness
Scientists continue to study and learn more about mental illness and the brain. They know that when an individual has a mental illness, it changes how the biological processes of the brain function. While mental health professionals typically base their diagnosis and treatment on the individual’s symptoms so that they can provide relief of those symptoms, research scientists want to discover the structural or chemical changes that happen in the brain so that they can find a cure or develop more effective treatments. We know that mental illness is associated with changes in neurochemicals, yet we do not currently have a total understanding of what causes mental illnesses.