What are mental illnesses?

By: Lakeyshia McMillan

What is a mental illness? Mental illnesses are health conditions that occur in the brain; they affect a person’s ability to feel, to think, mood or their behaviour (CDC, January 26, 2018). They are health conditions that change emotions, thinking or behaviour. “Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities” (American Psychiatric Association, 2020). A Mental illness can be long term, known as (chronic), or occasional. Examples of a mental illness are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. All though many people believe that mental health and mental illnesses are the same thing. Despite the similar names mental health and mental illnesses are not the same thing. Mental health is your psychological well being, whereas mental illnesses are diagnosed.

Mental health affects your daily life; mental illnesses have the same affect. Although they appear to have the same function your health is all about how you treat yourself; making it easy to fix with just a few changes. It's the “foundation of your emotions, thinking, resilience and self-esteem” (American Psychiatric Association, 2020). Health is key in relationships and participating in society. With easy help you can feel better when your health is not at its best; however illnesses take time to fix. Having to take pills at some point, can be tedious. That's why some people don't take the pills they were given by their doctor because they might forget or maybe they just don't want to commit to something they might view wrong. When you feel sad some might think they could have depression. Although depression does make you sad; if you just feel sad for a bit that's just your health.

Depression is not just a sad emotion. It's what makes you stay in bed despite knowing you need to get up. Depression “is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act” (APA, 2020). When someone is diagnosed with this illness the reason they feel the way they do is because of the happy chemical (dopamine); your body is not making it. It stops making Dopamine and without it you can't feel anything really, that's why people harm themselves. They want to feel something and to them pain is the only thing that is plausible. Thankfully we have been able to make a drug that can give people the dopamine they clearly need. There are many drugs you can get, most common is antidepressants. Of Course the pill is not perfect; there are quite a lot of side effects. For example insomnia or the opposite fatigue. As with the pills there are tons of different states of depression. Smiling depression is very similar, but instead of looking sad people fake a smile inorder to hide their symptoms. Although those are different types of depressions there is one illness that usually coincides with depression, anxiety.

Anxiety is considered to be the most common mental illness, “It is estimated that one in 10 Canadians is affected by them” (Mental Health - Anxiety Disorders, Canada health). Anxiety is an illness and is also considered to be normal to feel at times. When you walk out of your comfort zone you feel somewhat scared, you might have butterflies in your stomach. Whereas someone who is diagnosed with anxiety has a person telling them something in their head. It freaks them out, they are unable to rid of this monster without pills. The monster may put doubts in your head, or they make you think you have something wrong, or you might believe everyone is looking which makes it hard when you also think you are doing/ looking wrong.

Anxiety can be chronic as well. Therefore making tons of branches of Anxiety. One branch that leads to more is Phobia. Another one is Post traumatic stress disorder. Lastly there is ‘OCD’ Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The scary part is people can be diagnosed with more than one anxiety illness. Adding on the other mental illnesses like depression, it can be extremely hard for someone to live. Lucky scientists have been able to for the most part, make medicine that helps people in need. Of course medicine doesn’t always work for example schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a very serious disorder in which the person mixes reality with fiction. For them it's a life long treatment where the pills might not even work, it all depends on the person. Scientists don't even know what causes people to get schizophrenia. All they know is “schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that

affects less than one percent of the U.S. population. When schizophrenia is active,

symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, trouble with thinking and lack of motivation.” (APA 2020). With schizophrenia being such a serious disorder, scientists are really working hard for a useful and safe way to help people diagnosed. However there is quite a lot of misinformation when it comes to schizophrenia. It's not a split personality disorder that is more something to do with bipolar disorder. Since there is little to none info people believe the false facts. It does not help when there are shows misinforming people on schizophrenia. Lucky if you actually do some research you will learn the truth. Of course some think since they are a certain gender they are less likely to get schizophrenia, however “research has shown that schizophrenia affects men and women fairly equally but may have an earlier onset in males. Rates are similar around the world. People with schizophrenia are more likely to die younger than the general population, largely because of high rates of co-occurring medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.” (APA 2020). Bipolar disorder is very similar in that it is not associated with one gender.

Bipolar disorder is “(formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression) is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” (NIH 2020). Bipolar disorder can be associated with depression because they both can make you really sad, suicidal, and you can lose motivation. With that in mind they are very different as well. B.D. ‘gives you mood swings’, for example you can be happy on second and feel very devastated the next. Lucky scientists have been able to find a way to help people who suffer. They have done tons of research, finding that there are different stages of Bipolar. They have named them with numbers. Bipolar i disorder, Bipolar ii disorder lastly Cyclothymic Disorder. They are like stairs, you start with one which seems bad until you go further. Of course it's not perfect “sometimes a person might experience symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not match the three categories listed above, which is referred to as “other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.” (NIH 2020). Bipolar disorder can be diagnosed in your young adolescent years. Sadly you live with it for the rest of your life.

Mental health is very important to take care of because it can be dangerous if you don't. You can't fully control everything in your life, but one thing you can control is yourself. Once you're diagnosed with something don't worry it will be ok. You listen to everyone around you. It might be hard, but try not to fall down into a deep hole. Of course it's hard once you find out you have some illness/disorder.

Scientists are trying hard to help those who need it by finding the information needed. So just don't give up because it might seem like the end but it isn't. No one wants to be diagnosed with Bipolar, or schizophrenia or even depression and anxiety. With that you are not alone. It might seem that way, but you are not. There are others like you who also struggle.

Bipolar, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety are not the only illness/disorders there are. They are just one of the most thought of when it comes to illness/disorders. Bipolar is very serious as well as schizophrenia, but they are not as common as depression and anxiety.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC twenty four seven. Saving Lives, Protecting People Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC twenty four seven. Saving Lives, Protecting People

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, december 20, 2020)

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-familie s/what-is-mental-illness

(What Is Mental Illness? December 12, 2020)


https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-fam ilies/depression/what-is-depression

(What Is Depression? December 12, 2020)




(Government of Canada. Canada.ca, July 22, 2009)


https://www.mayo clinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354 443#:~:text=Schizophrenia%20is%20a%20serious%20mental,functioning%2C%20and%20c an%20be%20disabling.

(Mayo Clinic, Schizophrenia January 07, 2020)

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia (What Is Schizophrenia? December 12, 2020)

Bipolar disorder

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml#:~:tex t=Bipolar%2 0disorder%20

(National Institute of Mental Health, Bipolar Disorder. December 12, 2020)

8 views0 comments

Would you like to join us, write stories, or produce exciting new content for our new online journal?

Contact us using the button below; You will gain access to write your story, add photos, video and submit right from your browser.

Shakat Connects
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn

ShakatMedia is a media company focusing on photography services, video services, and graphic design to serve Northern communities.

404 B Ogilvie Street,
Whitehorse,Yukon, Y1A 2S4
• More Than Words

Yukon community services and groups dedicated to assist and support Yukon citizens.