This is a non professional introduction to mental illness with the sole goal of promoting research in writing. I am not a psychological professional. The links provided were found on-line. This is not a diagnostic tool. It is not an alternative to professional medical treatment nor is it an alternative to formal research.How many people have mental illnesses? Statistics vary by type of survey and source. The most common percentage of adults with mental illness, that I have seen, is 20%. That is one in five adults have a mental illness. Having a mental illness, in general, does not mean a person is disabled nor dangerous. Problems vary from minor anxiety to serious phobias. Personal views on mental illness and treatment often interfere with individuals, who need treatment. Refusing to believe one has a mental illness does not affect whether or not a person has a mental illness.
I enjoy psychology. I am a people watcher and enjoy reading the explanations behind behaviors. What gets me more then any other errors in writing is the portrayal of psychological issues. The media causes some of the misconceptions. I hope to present some basic information to provide a less sensational view on mental illnesses.
How can a person make their mental illness go away? It depends on the problem, or problems, and the individuals opinion of those problems. For example, on Yahoo Answers, Depression is a common topic. Unfortunately, the most common request is how to make it go away. The misconceptions vary, but generally, people either do not believe its a valid medical condition or they believe its a condition that can be remedied at home. There is no miracle cure. No pill that will make it go away. Consulting a medical doctor, or a psychiatrist, and followed the outlined treatment is the best bet. Therapy and/or medication can manage symptoms. Not all mental illnesses respond to treatment.
One of the misconceptions is that mental illness is not a "physical" illness. Or its not a valid medical problem. That is not true. There are types of mental illness that do not have physical components. There are disagreements on whether or not some sets of symptoms have physical components as they symptoms don't make sense. Mental illnesses are valid medical problems. Depression (or unipolar) and bipolar are described as chemical imbalances in the brain. Anxiety and phobias, which are not physical in and of themselves, in general, can have physical symptoms. Mental illnesses are actual medical illnesses. (The major difference is the type of doctor who treats the problems.)
What about alternatives to traditional treatment? Snake oil is a term for fake cure all or medicine. Finding God, prayer, will power, positive thinking, and herbal treatments such as St. John's Wort, are snake oil. While faith, determination and positive thinking can help a patient through professional psychological treatment, it is not a valid alternative. Additionally, suggesting people use these alternatives is not only offensive, it could have a negative affect of the their needed treatment.
For those who still insist that depression isn't real or that they can treat it themselves, I have an analogy. If you broke your leg, would you attempt to treat the broken leg yourself, or seek immediate, professional medical treatment? The relationship between depression and a broken leg might not be immediately apparent. Both are incredibly painful. Both have physical causes. Both can have serious medical consequences, if not treated correctly.
With the above in mind, I am going to list some psychological problems and some links to get a researcher started. For ADD/ADHD, I am going to toss in an alternative diagnosis. It is not medically sound, and falls under my view of snake oil, but it does make for a good story concept.
The information included here is primarily from WebMD. I recommend doing additional research. There are varying viewpoints on the causes and treatment of mental illnesses. It is good to know at least some variation. Wikipedia is a quick source of information but not necessarily accurate. Please make sure to check your sources.
ADD/ADHD: There have been articles on children, particularly boys, who have been diagnosed with this condition to allow medication because the children are simply very active children. The medication makes them easier to deal with although should not have been administered.
Autism: This is not one but multiple conditions called Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Personality Disorders Types and Symptoms
Post Traumatic Stress (unsure if its referred to as a syndrome, a disorder, or neither)
Schizophrenia: I ask people to please be careful and respectful with this condition. It has a major social stigma. I have a very good friend who is schizophrenic. He is a wonderful person. He simply sees the world through very different eyes. He does not wear tin foil on his head to keep the CIA satellites from using mind control. (That is a reference to paranoid beliefs.)
Self-Medication is when a person drinks alcohol or takes illegal drugs, including prescription drugs he/she has not been prescribed, in an attempt to cope with the symptoms of a psychological problem.