A mental illness means the sickness of the mind in some or other form that affects the normal functioning of the patient in his day-to-day life. Recent findings have shown that there are definite biochemical aberrations in the brain which called mental illness. Hence it needs special treatment which includes detection, treatment, and rehabilitation.
Mental illness is shown two types: organic and functional. Organic mental illness is caused by any damage to the brain. The cause can be high fever, an accident or a change in a number of hormones the body produces.
There are many types of organic mental illness. Epilepsy is a disease caused by a damaged brain, but it can occur even among perfectly normal people. In the case of brain hemorrhage and thrombosis, the brain’s blood supply is damaged. Cerebral palsy and spastic paralysis are caused by some brain-damaged in childhood. Multiple sclerosis involves damage to the brain tissues. Parkinson’s disease is caused by a disorder of the brain chemistry. Other organic mental disorders are caused by injury to the brain: amnesia is the loss of memory; aphasia is a serious disorder of through and communication.
But most the mental illness is functional disorders. In a functional disorder, a person’s mind is ill without any apparent damage to the brain. Depending upon the symptoms, these disorders have been broadly divided into three groups. These are:
i. minor mental illnesses (neurosis, anxiety reaction etc.)
ii. major mental illness (psychosis, schizophrenia, mania) and
iii. mental depression (affection disorder).
A neurosis is a mild form of emotional disorder which affects in varying degrees. They include anxiety states, hysterical reactions and obsessive compulsive disorders. The anxiety neurosis may lead to absent-mindedness, some abnormal fear like dread of death or of certain places or people. This fear in some cases is called a phobia. And many seriously disturb a person’s life. Some of its common examples are hydrophobia (the fear of water) and acrophobia (the fear of heights). Hysteria has physical symptoms such as paralysis, without an apparent physical cause. The people with obsessive-compulsive neurosis have a compulsive urge to perform certain acts. They may spend much of their time performing the same act over and over again. Character neuroses include passiveness, aggressiveness, moodiness and elation.
Psychosis is considered as a major mental illness and is mainly of two types: manic-depressive psychosis and schizophrenic psychosis. In manic-depressive psychosis, the patient may feel excited, elated, miserable, gloomy or without hope. Manic-depressive psychosis can be cured or relieved with drugs. This suggests that certain chemical changes in the brain may be a major cause of this illness. Depressive may also be a psychological reaction to a shock such as the death of a close friend.
In schizophrenia, a person’s whole mind and personality become disrupted. Schizophrenia means ‘slitting of mind’. The speech and behavior of the sufferer show irrational patterns- the patient’s behavior may become violent and uncontrollable and he may get an illusory perception of reality. In paranoia, this is a form of schizophrenia, the patient suspects and mistrusts the people around him and feels that others are hostile to him. For that, he reacts accordingly.
Mania is the extreme liking for something which takes an uncontrollable form. For example, a dipsomaniac is a person who is excessively addicted to liquor; a kleptomaniac is a person who can hardly resist the temptation of stealing etc.
Mental depression results from factors like excessive stress, some mishappenings like loss of a job or any chronic illness causing concern etc. It becomes an illness when the depression is persistent. And at this condition needs treatment.
The psychiatrists may differ in their treatment of mental illness. Therapies which are used to treat mental illnesses are called psychotherapy, group, drug therapy and electroconvulsive therapy.