Mental Illness is a treatable public-health problem - Families sometimes wonder if their loved one is just going through a phase or whether they are struggling enough that they may need help.
People who withdraw socially from peers, have a decline in job or school performance, and appear irritable, may be in trouble People may be moody at times, and may be short-tempered, especially with family or peers. For teenager's, friends become the focus of their life, and family activities become less important. Sometimes they seem embarrassed to be with their family or siblings. Many teens use angry responses to get some distance from their family or peers when mom or dad ask too many questions, or want to know too many details about their friends. However, people should still enjoy a number of activities, and they should have fun when they are with their friends. While they may be fickle with their own family, they should have good relationships with others. Most people will talk with their family or peers about their feelings intermittently. In the workplace or school, they should be able to function at the level they have in the past. Teens or adults may be distressed when they are experiencing normal daily stress, but they should not be chronically depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed.
Two questions to ask if you think your loved one needs help: "What percentage of the time are you happy?" and "What are you enjoying about your life?" If the person is not happy most of the time, or if joy is missing from their life, they need professional help. If they are having suicidal or aggressive thoughts, they may need immediate attention.
According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older -- about one in four adults -- suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion -- about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 -- who suffer from a serious mental illness. In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for people ages 15-44. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for two or more disorders. (Statistics according to National Comorbidity Survey)
Comorbidity refers to an individual who has been diagnosed with two different mental illnesses or a mental illness and substance disorder. For instance, many individuals who have been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia also have a long-term dependence on illicit substances. Therefore, the individual demonstrates comorbid diagnoses or issues. Another common term includes dual diagnosis, again referring to two separate diagnostic categories of mental illness.
One other common use in the mental health field for comorbidity or dual diagnosis involves various types of abuse and substance dependence. For example, an individual can be referred as having comorbid issues who has been referred for treatment involving domestic violence and substance abuse, or sexual offenses and substance abuse. Again, the main focus is that the individual has two significant diagnostic issues of focus for treatment providers.