What is Severe Mental Illness?

Marlene Garcia
Marlene Garcia
People suffering from severe mental illness may experience hallucinations.
People suffering from severe mental illness may experience hallucinations.

Severe mental illness disorders, or severe mental illnesses, are generally marked by psychosis. Those suffering from this condition often lose touch with reality, and stop responding normally to everyday occurrences. They may experience hallucinations, delusions, or suffer from manic episodes. In some cases, the patient will become catatonic, perhaps not moving or speaking for long periods of time. The symptoms of severe mental illness can vary in severity and change over time.

A person suffering from chronic depression often loses all interest in activities that were once enjoyed.
A person suffering from chronic depression often loses all interest in activities that were once enjoyed.

Hallucinations can cause someone to see or hear things that don’t exist. Sometimes people suffering from this form of severe mental illness try to explain the sensations by devising beliefs that appear odd to others. These are called delusions. Patients may think someone is plotting against them if the voices they hear are critical or demeaning. These thought patterns can cause extreme anxiety, which is defined as paranoia.

When a person exhibits a severe mental illness such as mania, he or she may become highly excitable. There could be an increase in energy and physical activity. The person may appear confused or irrational, with racing speech and a heightened mood.

People with severe mental illness may experience headaches, changes in weight, and lethargy.
People with severe mental illness may experience headaches, changes in weight, and lethargy.

Severe mental illness falls into four main categories: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, and personality disorder. Mental health experts sometimes have trouble making a correct diagnosis because the symptoms often overlap. If the correct diagnosis can be made early, medication can be used to treat the illness.

Schizophrenia is a disabling disease of the brain that affects people all over the world. The hallucinations and delusions can cause withdrawal and fearful behavior. Because the schizophrenic’s behavior is often incomprehensible, it may cause others to be frightened. Treatment for this severe mental illness can relieve some symptoms, but those who suffer from schizophrenia generally exhibit some signs of the illness throughout their lifetimes.

Severe mental illness can stem from childhood trauma.
Severe mental illness can stem from childhood trauma.

Bipolar disorders can run in families and usually begin in early adolescence or adulthood. People who suffer this severe mental health condition may have wide mood swings that range from an emotional high to serious depression. The moods can change without apparent cause. The high period is referred to as mania, while the down mood is called depression.

Personality disorders can be mild or severe and may seriously affect a person’s work or family life. He or she might create behaviors that conflict with a healthy sense of what is normal. There are several illnesses that are considered personality disorders. They range from narcissism to obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Clinical depression often causes patients to lose all interest in activities that they once enjoyed. It is a serious feeling of sadness or hopelessness that can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. Physical symptoms include headaches, sleep disturbances, and an increase or decrease in appetite.

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    • People suffering from severe mental illness may experience hallucinations.
      By: Alexander Raths
      People suffering from severe mental illness may experience hallucinations.
    • A person suffering from chronic depression often loses all interest in activities that were once enjoyed.
      By: Monkey Business
      A person suffering from chronic depression often loses all interest in activities that were once enjoyed.
    • People with severe mental illness may experience headaches, changes in weight, and lethargy.
      By: Andy Dean
      People with severe mental illness may experience headaches, changes in weight, and lethargy.
    • Severe mental illness can stem from childhood trauma.
      By: fasphotographic
      Severe mental illness can stem from childhood trauma.