Mental Health vs Mental Illness


Staying on top of your mental well-being is incredibly important. Part of that process is understanding what affects your mental health and the steps you can take to improve it. This article will go over the differences between mental health and illness, signs of mental illness, and mental illness treatment options. 

What Is The Difference Between Mental Health and Mental Illness

Mental health and mental illness are two very different things, yet, they are often lumped together as the same thing. The CDC considers mental illness “conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, or behavior.” Meanwhile, mental health affects “our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.” Our mental health affects how we interact with others, handle personal problems, and make decisions. 

While they are two different things, it’s important to note that mental health and mental illness are tied together in a similar way as physical health and physical illness are. Not properly understanding the differences between mental health and mental illness and how the two are connected can lead to overlooking signs that someone may need help. Unfortunately, many individuals with poor mental health have not been formally diagnosed with a mental illness. Even then, those with a diagnosed mental illness experience periods of positive mental health. 

What Are The Types Of Mental Illness?

Many different conditions are recognized as mental illnesses. It is important to note that self-diagnosing yourself can be harmful. If you believe you have a mental illness, speak with a doctor to find out how you can get the help you need. Here are some common types of mental illness:

  • Anxiety disorders - Individuals living with anxiety disorders respond to certain situations with fear, dread, and physical signs of anxiety and panic
  • Mood disorders - These disorders are also referred to as affective disorders. These disorders involve feelings of sadness or periods of overwhelming happiness with fluctuations between the two.
  • Psychotic disorders - Those with psychotic disorders may live with distorted awareness and thinking. Symptoms include hallucinations and delusions.
  • Addiction disorders - Impulse control disorders with a wide range of diagnoses, from those who are unable to resist burgers to performing acts that may be harmful to themselves or others to fuel their addiction.
  • Personality disorders - Those with a personality disorder have inflexible personality traits that are distressing to the person and cause problems at work, school, or social settings.

Other, less common types of mental illness include stress response syndromes, dissociative disorders, factitious disorders, and somatic symptom disorders. 

How Can You Improve Mental Health 

Improving your mental health can be a difficult, tedious, and lengthy process, but it is incredibly rewarding. Taking steps to improve your mental health can help you handle stress, relate to others, and be decisive. Here are some things you can do to improve your mental health:

  • Stay positive
  • Practice gratitude
  • Take care of your physical well-being
  • Connect with others as much as possible
  • Develop a sense of meaning and purpose
  • Develop coping skills
  • Meditate

A big step in improving your mental health is recognizing when you need to get help. Talk therapy and certain medications can treat mental disorders. Speak with your primary care provider to find where you can obtain these types of resources.

What Causes Mental Illness?

Understanding the causes of mental illness is complicated. Researchers and experts are still unsure as to how exactly mental illness develops and how to detect it early in one’s life. Generally, mental illness is thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Some mental illness triggers include:

  • A history of mental illness
  • Stressful life situations
  • Medical complications
  • Brain damage
  • Frequent use of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Previous mental illness

It’s important to note that about one in five Americans has a mental illness. Recognizing the triggers can help you or a loved one get the help they need. 

What Are The Signs Of Mental Illness?

It’s important that you understand the signs of mental illness. As mentioned above, not only will it help you better monitor your own mental health, but it will also help you keep a tab on loved ones. Some of the warning signs of mental illness include:

  • Excessive paranoia
  • Long-lasting sadness
  • Extreme mood shifts
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping patterns

It’s important to note that signs and symptoms can vary depending on the person and the severity of the condition. Other signs include the inability to concentrate, excessive fears, easy irritability, detachment from reality, and a failure to cope with daily problems and stress. 

Ways To Manage Your Mental Illness

Fortunately, many who are diagnosed with mental illness can achieve strength and recovery by participating in treatment. There are many different treatment options, and the recommended option will vary depending on the patient and the specific diagnosis. Some options to manage mental illness include:

  • Psychotherapy - This is a therapeutic treatment provided by a mental health professional
  • Medication - Medicine will not cure mental illness, but it will help with the management of symptoms.
  • Case management - This treatment option coordinates services with the help of a case manager.
  • Hospitalization - In some cases, hospitalization may be required to ensure professionals can closely monitor an individual.
  • Support group - During a support group meeting, members guide one another towards the shared goal of recovery.

Managing a mental illness can improve not only mental well-being but physical well-being as well. 

Supplements May Help

Another way to take care of your mental and physical health is by inducing a bodily function known as autophagy. There are several different ways you can generate this process, including the consumption of spermidine. If you are like most Americans, you fail to get your recommended daily dose of spermidine through your diet. That’s why supplements are so important. At spermidineLIFE®, we offer the world’s first award-winning spermidine supplement to help you take control of your mental and physical health.

  • Don Moxley - Director of Applied Science

    Don Moxley is the Director of Applied Science at Longevity Labs. Moxley draws upon his career as an athlete, a sports scientist, and an instructor to lead and educate on the science of autophagy and longevity.