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Considering that lifetime rates of psychosis are estimated to range from 0.2 % to 0.7 % , it is clear that many more individuals hear voices than are diagnosed with psychosis. Taken together, there is plausible evidence that psychosis is a dimensional phenomenon that lies on a continuum with normal human experience rather than a categorical ‘present or absent’ event [97–99]. A second reason is that the mental health system is underpinned by assumptions which give primacy to the genetic and biological and more recently to the psychological, to the neglect of social understandings of mental distress. It has proved difficult for the mental health system, including research approaches, to let go of the assumption that mental illness resides in the person. For example, one response to the above finding that schizophrenia is more common in people who experienced childhood abuse has been to search for the genetic variant which influences response to childhood adversity .

Research scientists, on the other hand, have a different goal. They want to learn about the chemical or structural changes that occur in the brain when someone has a mental illness.

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In this module, we will at times discuss mental illness in general terms and at other times, discuss specific mental illnesses. Depression, schizophrenia, and ADHD will be presented in greater detail than other mental illnesses. Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior.

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Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. Mental health professionals base their diagnosis and treatment of mental illness on the symptoms that a person exhibits. The goal for these professionals in treating a patient is to relieve the genital herpes symptoms that are interfering with the person’s life so that the person can function well.

As with many diseases, mental illness is severe in some cases and mild in others. Individuals who have a mental illness don’t necessarily look like they are sick, especially if their illness is mild. Other individuals may show more explicit symptoms such as confusion, agitation, or withdrawal. There are many different mental illnesses, includingdepression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , autism, andobsessive-compulsive disorder. Each illness alters a person’s thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors in distinct ways.

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If scientists can determine what happens in the brain, they can use that knowledge to develop better treatments or find a cure. In some cases, a mental illness may be so severe that a doctor or loved one may need to guide your care until you’re well enough to participate in decision-making. Many people live with psychosis-like experiences without requiring input from mental health services. For example voice hearing (‘auditory hallucinations’), a cardinal symptom of psychosis, may be often reported amongst those in good psychological health and with no history of mental health service contact. Prevalence estimates vary according to the age range examined and the ways in which voice hearing is defined, but is estimated to reach a median of 13.2 % in the adult general population .