What are the Different Types of Mental Illness Treatments?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Prescription medications may help treat individuals suffering from mental illness.
Prescription medications may help treat individuals suffering from mental illness.

Mental illness treatments vary according to the nature and severity of a person's mental illness, as well as how well a person responds to a given treatment or treatments. Common mental illness treatments include psychotherapy, drugs, and electroconvulsive therapy, in addition to hospitalization. For many people with mental illness, a combination of these treatments can be an effective way to bring about healing.

A doctor may recommend a psychologist to a patient in need of mental health help.
A doctor may recommend a psychologist to a patient in need of mental health help.

Psychotherapy, or counseling, is a well-known mental illness treatment that is also effective in helping those without a mental illness to manage stress and emotions, particularly during or after a life-altering event such as death, illness, or divorce. Mental health professionals practice different types of psychotherapy, with some modalities better suited to certain types of mental illness or psychiatric symptoms. Individuals receiving psychotherapy typically meet with their therapist one or more times per week.

While psychotherapy on its own can be a very effective form of mental illness treatment, some people benefit from the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Specific drugs have been developed to treat different types of mental illness. Individuals suffering from depression often benefit from antidepressant drugs, while those with moods swings may find relief from mood stabilizers. Other psychiatric drugs include antipsychotics, which can help patients manage the symptoms of schizophrenia, and anti-anxiety drugs, also known as tranquilizers, which can help people manage anxiety and nervousness. Prescription medication can be prescribed as an adjunct to psychotherapy.

If neither medications nor psychotherapy works to relieve the symptoms of mental illness, other mental illness treatments may be tried. Electroconvulsive therapy, sometimes known as shock therapy, causes the patient to experience a seizure under medically controlled conditions. While this therapy may seem extreme and can cause temporary memory loss, it can also be a very effective treatment for severe depression that does not respond well to medication or mental health counseling.

In cases where a patient does not respond to outpatient therapy or treatment, or if the patient is a danger to himself others, he may need to undergo mental illness treatments in an institutional or residential setting. In many societies, including the United States, most people who enter mental health hospitals do so voluntarily, as it can be difficult to legally compel a person to enter residential treatment. While in the hospital, an individual can be observed by its staff and participate in both group and and individual psychotherapy, and may also be required to take medication to help stabilize her symptoms. In most cases, residential care is brief and typically lasts only as long as it takes to get a patient stabilized.

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    • Prescription medications may help treat individuals suffering from mental illness.
      Prescription medications may help treat individuals suffering from mental illness.
    • A doctor may recommend a psychologist to a patient in need of mental health help.
      A doctor may recommend a psychologist to a patient in need of mental health help.