Impact of Mental Illness
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Mental Illness is a term used for a group of disorders causing severe disturbances in thinking, feeling and relating. They result in substantially diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. (Mental Illness Defined) There are some different perspectives on the causes of mental illness. The perspectives include the biological, psychodynamic, humanistic and existential, behavioral, cognitive, and socio-cultural. Advances in brain imaging techniques have helped scientists study the role of brain structure in mental illness. Some studies have shown brain abnormalities in certain mental illnesses. Some people with schizophrenia have enlarged brain ventricles. In addition, a variety of medical conditions may cause mental illness. Brain damage and strokes can cause loss of memory, impaired concentration and speech, and unusual changes in behavior. Brain tumors, imbalance of hormones, deficiencies in diet, and infections from viruses are other factors. Freud believes that mental illness is caused by unconscious and unresolved conflicts in the mind. Both the humanistic and existential perspectives view abnormal behavior as resulting from a persons failure to find meaning in life and fulfill his or her potential. The behavioral perspective explains mental illness, as well as all of human behavior, as a learned response to stimuli. Despite all of these different theories, most modern day psychologists agree that mental illness is caused by a combination of these things.
Impact of Mental Illness
Mental illness has the potential to impact every faucet of an individuals life, as well as the lives of those close to them, including relationships (family and friends), vocational, financial, and behavioral tendencies. These effects differ between each individual due to the treatment approaches taken, the variety of diagnoses, and the intenseness of symptoms. At the age of seventeen Joe felt clueless when his usual good quality school and family life began to change due to a string of stressful experiences. Although his diagnosis was not made immediately, the symptoms of schizophrenia affected his daily life. He became delusional, began to withdrawal from friends, his senses were distorted and overall he was uncomfortable around people.
Two categories were created to illustrate the impact on family members caring for an individual with a mental disorder. These are identified as objective burden and subjective burden. An objective burden refers to such things as disruptions to family relationships, limitations in leisure and vocational activities, and financial difficulties.
High rates in separation and divorce among relationships where a spouse has a mental illness is an example of an objective burden. Following three semesters in University, Joes symptoms of delusion came back leading him to temporarily drop out of school. This interruption in his educational experience also constitutes as an example of objective burden. Subjective burden describes the personal feelings and reactions experienced by family members. These feelings may consist of being distressed, angry, grief, loss from past to present situations, embarrassed, unhappy, and guilty if an individual feels they were the cause of the illness. (Dore et al., 2001)
Diannes father was diagnosed with schizophrenia twice and never followed through with treatment. His symptoms caused him to believe that his wife was out to get him and he confided this situation to Dianne, who he later claimed was not his daughter due to an extramarital affair on her mothers behalf. During the time of his illness he abandoned his wife and soon after stopped communicating with Dianne as well. (Dore et al., 2001)
The turmoil experienced by the family sent Diannes mother into a depressed state, she is now on medication, and affected Diannes life in great measures. Although now she feels she is a better person because of her experience she was greatly influenced by the initial change in her fathers attitudes.
Mental illness does not only have an effect on relationships, occupation, recreation and finances, but also the overall routine of an individuals daily life. An example of this may be the individuals reaction, or lack thereof, to environmental stimuli, which may imply a distorted viewpoint. When Joe first started experiencing symptoms he became introverted and uncomfortable around people. As a result of a distortion of his senses he began to react to his peers coughing. He felt as though every time he moved they would cough and this sense of paranoia kept Joe from much movement, eventually this played a part in his leaving university.
A common area of schizophrenia is the idea of outside forces that preoccupy the individual, in turn disrupting their own thoughts and actions. When Orton was first diagnosed and put on medication he thought his pills were placebos and overdosed. Ortons overdosing was repetitive and ended up in hospitalization following each stint. (Dore et al., 2001)
This example can also show how certain medications impact the individual and may also affect those who are connected to the individual. Another occurrence in Ortons life was nearly sexually assaulting a woman while he was in the hospital. During this time he had aggressive tendencies towards females, but is now on a medication that keeps his aggression low. This along with his attentive social skills has kept him from even thinking about hurting a woman. A more physical effect is Ortons tardive dyskinesia which is a disorder caused by long-term use of antipsychotic drugs. It often results in constant chewing motions and sometimes disappears after drugs are withdrawn, but there are chances of it being indefinite (MerckMedicus, 2000).
In Ortons case, the tardive dyskinesia is subdued by his medications and become evident when he misses his medication or is under stress. Joe also reported experiences of his medications causing restlessness and weight gain, however he has now switched to a med that he says has changed his life and expressed his gratitude to medical advancements. (Morrissey, J.P., & Goldman, H.H, 1984)
Relationships, financial facets, vocational and recreational activities are only a few of the factors that are impacted by a mental illness. These aspects are often categorized into objective burdens and subjective burdens depending on disruptions in a persons life and the reactions towards them. The severity of a diagnosis, along with response to treatments and medications effect the extremities of the symptoms, in turn affecting the impact a mental illness will have on an individual and those around them.