Mental Health: What's Considered Normal and What's Not

Mental health what's considered normal and what's not
Exploring the distinctions between normal mental health and mental disorders is crucial for understanding when seeking help is necessary. Join me as we navigate the intricacies of mental well-being and delve into how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can serve as indicators for seeking assistance, either for oneself or a loved one.

What is Normal Mental Health?

The overarching term "mental health" refers to the general well-being of how we think, regulate our feelings, and behave. However, disruptions in these mental functions may indicate a mental health disorder. A disorder arises when patterns or changes in thoughts, feelings, or behavior cause distress or impair a person's ability to function. Mental health disorders can impact various aspects of life, including:

  1. Maintaining Personal or Family Relationships
  2. Functioning in Social Environments
  3. Performance at Work or School
  4. Learning at an Age-Appropriate Level
  5. Engaging in Other Important Activities

It's important to note that cultural norms and societal expectations play a role in defining mental health disorders. What may be considered normal behavior in one society could raise concerns in another.

Defining Mental Health Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, serves as a guide explaining the signs and symptoms of various mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia.

The DSM provides criteria for diagnosis based on the nature, duration, and impact of signs and symptoms. It outlines the typical course of the disorder, common risk factors, and coexisting conditions. Another commonly used diagnostic guide is the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) by the World Health Organization.

Health insurance companies use the DSM and ICD coding systems to determine coverage, benefits and reimbursement for mental health professionals.

How Do Mental Health Professionals Diagnose Disorders?

Diagnosing a mental health condition involves the expertise of psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, or other mental health professionals. Primary care physicians may also participate in diagnostic assessments or refer individuals to mental health specialists.

Diagnosis may be based on:
  1. Clinical history of physical illness or mental health disorders in oneself or family.
  2. Comprehensive physical examination to identify or rule out underlying medical conditions.
  3. Inquiries about current concerns or reasons for seeking help.
  4. Exploration of recent life events' impact on thoughts, feelings, or behaviors (such as traumas, relationships, work, or the death of a friend or relative).
  5. Formal questionnaires or tests gauging opinions on typical reactions in various situations.
  6. Questions about past and present alcohol and drug consumption.
  7. History of trauma, abuse, family crises, or other significant life events.
  8. Inquiries about past or present thoughts of violence towards oneself or others.
  9. Questionnaires or interviews completed by someone well-acquainted with the individual, such as a parent or spouse.
What is normal mental health

When is Evaluation or Treatment Necessary?

Each mental health condition presents unique signs and symptoms. However, seeking professional help may be necessary if experiencing:

  1. Changes in Eating and Sleeping Patterns
  2. Inability to Cope with Daily Life Issues or Activities
  3. Feeling Disconnected or Withdrawing from Normal Activities
  4. Unusual or "Magical" Thoughts
  5. Excessive Anxiety
  6. Prolonged Sadness, Depression, or Apathy
  7. Thoughts or Statements about Suicide or Harm to Others
  8. Substance Abuse
  9. Extreme Mood Swings
  10. Excessive Anger, Hostility, or Violent Behavior

Many individuals with mental health disorders consider their signs and symptoms normal or avoid treatment due to shame or fear. If concerned about mental health, don't hesitate to seek advice.

Consult with your primary care physician or schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health professional. Finding a professional familiar with your culture or demonstrating an understanding of relevant cultural and social contexts is important for tailoring treatment to your experiences and life stories.

With appropriate support, you can identify mental health conditions and receive suitable treatment, whether through medication or counseling. Taking care of your mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being.
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