What Are Mental Health Issues, and How Do They Affect People?

How do mental health issues affect us? (Image via pexels/ Karolina Grabowska)
How do mental health issues affect us? (Image via Pexels/Karolina Grabowska)

Mental health issues are at an all-time high. Mental health is our ability to respond to challenges life throws at us. We can have all sorts of mental struggles with money, work, relationships, family, health or just life in general.

Good mental health is our ability to function, to bounce back from these struggles and to be able to move forward. Being able to deal with the worries of everyday life helps us build resilience, which is another way of saying good mental health. Resilience can help us when our problems seem overwhelming.


What Are Mental Health Issues?

Mental health issues can make us spiral out of control, change the way we feel, think and behave.

It could mean being worried or afraid all the time, feeling numb or like nothing matters, or losing touch with what's real. When that happens, it can take some time to get back on track. At such times, it's important to reach out for help, whether it's through friends, family, or mental health professionals. Finding the right support can help us get back to feeling ourselves.

Mental health issues represent a broad category that refers to a variety of conditions that can cause symptoms that alter a person's thinking, perception, mood, or behavior.

Some people with mental health issues may find it challenging to manage their relationships, career, and other obligations. Although the link between stress and mental illness is complicated, it's known that stress can exacerbate a mental illness episode. Most people can control their mental health issues with medicine, therapy, or a combination of the two.

Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders

Mental illnesses are brain disorders that affect thoughts, feelings, and mood. Just like you can have heart disease or kidney disease, mental illnesses are disorders of the brain.

It’s important to be aware of your friends, loved ones, and those around you that might be experiencing a mental illness that has gone untreated or undiagnosed.

Some of these signs might be: isolating, not engaging in social activities, not engaging with peers, etc. Maybe they're not able to relate to the person with whom they have a relationship.

They're not able to execute daily tasks at work. They get overwhelmed easily or get anxious. Perhaps they stay in their room all day or refuse to take their medications, eat, or drink. These are some kind of hard and fast warning signs you can be aware of.

Some Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues affect a person's thinking, feelings, or mood for a sustained period that negatively impacts them.

You might be wondering: Is depression a mental health issue? What about anxiety? Yes, they are. In fact, these are the most common types of mental illnesses. Here's a look at a few mental health issues:

1) Anxiety

Anxiety disorders can make us feel compartmentalized. (Image via Pexels/Mart Production)
Anxiety disorders can make us feel compartmentalized. (Image via Pexels/Mart Production)

According to research, 40 million people suffer from symptoms of an anxiety disorder every year. Among them, it's estimated that only 36.9% get help. Anxiety disorders rarely appear alone, with depression being a common co-diagnosis.

Anxiety disorders come in a few varieties: generalized anxiety disorder, GAD, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, SAD, obsessive compulsive disorder, and OCD.

What do all these anxiety disorders have in common? They're all characterized by nearly uncontrollable worry that messes with several aspects of daily life, such as sleep, relationships, school, and work.

2) Personality Disorders

Certain personality traits can impact our life and relationships. (Image via Pexels/Shvets Production)
Certain personality traits can impact our life and relationships. (Image via Pexels/Shvets Production)

What does it mean when someone's personality is disordered? Personality disorders refer to behavioral, emotional and thought patterns that deviate greatly from the expectations of an individualist culture.

Research suggests that 9.1 percent of the population has traits of a personality disorder. So what does that look like in real life? Could anyone who's a little different be diagnosed with a personality disorder?

According to the diagnostic criteria, these differences must be causing the individual significant amounts of distress in the way they see themselves, others and situations, inappropriate or exaggerated emotional responses, impulse control and how well the individual relates to and functions around others.

3) Depression

MDD is one of the most common mental health issues in the US. (Image via Pexels/Juan Pablo)
MDD is one of the most common mental health issues in the US. (Image via Pexels/Juan Pablo)

Studies show that 15.7 million people in the US live with depression. Although the occasional low mood is a normal response to negative situations, depression entails low moods that are severe and last longer than six weeks.

Depression manifests differently in women than in men. Women tend to experience depression as feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or guilt. Men tend to mistake the symptoms of depression as fatigue and being easily irritated.

Causes of Mental Health Issues

There's a lot of research regarding the origins of mental health issues. Sometimes it’s genetic; sometimes it's due to the structure of the brain. It can also be due to the environment a person is exposed to or raised in.

There's not always a clear-cut answer, as each person has their own experience with their diagnosis. Mental illness has many causes, not just one. The likelihood of mental illness can be influenced by a variety of circumstances, including:

  • Early traumatic events in life or a history of abuse (for example, child abuse, sexual assault, witnessing violence, etc.)
  • Experiences with other persistent (chronic) illnesses, such as cancer or diabetes
  • Use of drugs or alcohol
  • Isolation or loneliness


There's no foolproof method to prevent mental health issues. However, if you have a mental condition, managing stress, building resilience, and boosting low self-esteem can help keep your symptoms under control.

Work with your physician or therapist to identify potential triggers for your symptoms if you believe you have a mental health condition. Create a strategy so that you will be prepared if your symptoms reappear. Think about asking friends or relatives to keep an eye out for warning signs.

Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.

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