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Mental illness?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
If you make an appointment with a psychiatrist about feeling depressed and overly anxious, and the doctor prescribes an anti-deppressant. Are you mentally ill?

How is "Mentally ill" defined? It seems to be this catch-all term, and I'm not really sure what it specifically encompasses and what it doesn't.

Similarly, if you saw something horrific in person some time ago, such as a terrorist attack, and went to counseling for the resulting PTSD - does that make you mentally ill?
post #2 of 12
If you use person-first language (ie. a person with a mental illness vs. a mentally ill person), then I think it helps a bit. There is a stigma with "mentally ill", but the edge seems to be taken off a bit when you use the noun instead of the adjective.

Depression is a mental illness. So, if someone has been diagnosed with depression, would have a mental illness.

However, there are different degrees of mental illness - moderate to severe. Just like people who have a cold and people who have cancer both suffer from physical illness.

And, I think mental illness, just like physical illness can at times be "cured", such as with PTSD. Or it can be chronic, or it can come and go. Same as with physical illness. So, a person who has sought treatment for PTSD and no longer has symptoms, they no longer have a mental illness. Someone who has bouts of depression, would be "mentally ill" while they are experiencing symptoms/or taking medication, but not when they are not experiencing symptoms, even if those symptoms may come back. Someone with schizophrenia - they likely suffer from a chronic mental illness for long periods of time, if not forever.

Mental illness is no different from physical illness. There is even some overlap (ie. hormonal reasons for mental illnesses).
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Interesting. So is it that anything a psychiatrist or psychologist treats considered mental illness?

I find this interesting.

The reason I ask this is that yesterday I ran across a liability release contract that contained a clause affirming that the contractee has not ever been treated for or diagnosed as mentally ill.

I wasn't sure who that included and who it didn't. At any point in time, over 11% of women and 5% of men are being treated for depression and/or similar conditions, so I figured that clause eliminated a lot of people.

When I think ot depression and anxiety being treated by a psychiatrist, I tend to think of them as regular emotions that have been turned into something more and given a diagnostic code so docs can prescribe and bill for them. I never really thought of them as mental illness unless they were also associated with issues like suicidal or homicidal thoughts, severe phobia like agoraphobia, severe claustrophobia, etc.

Also, on a less serious note, anybody heard of Elurophobia? I hadn't until I just thought to google "fear of cats" out of curiosity.

Anyways, always lumped more serious issues like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, munchausen, borderline personality disorder, OCD, etc. as being more closely fitting to the definition of mental illness than simple depression or anxiety (the non-debilitating variety).

I never really thought about whether simple depression, anxiety (and/or ptsd) were mental illness.
post #4 of 12
I find that interesting as well. Don't know how legal that is? I guess thats your area of expertise huh? I know that some jobs probably require people to be in top mental and physical shape. I am not sure I would want someone working on an atom bomb that is depressed or has anxiety issues. I feel I can say this because I have a mental illness so I can judge somewhat.

I think that if you are ill and it is "mental" not physical than you have a mental illness. I also think that people perhaps need to reevaluate their wording if they are only meaning to exclude people with bipolar or schizophrenia not just people who are depressed or being treated for anxiety. Because technically I believe it will encompase all those that have been seen and treated by a physicologist or physchiatrist. Which is alot of people knowadays like you said.
post #5 of 12
I'm assuming that job contract wasn't for flipping burgers , I don't know it's a little important to me that the people we give guns or put in charge of our government are healthy of body & mind.

I would like to think of the definition of mental illness more like an ADDICTION*; whatever it is it is only a problem when it's interfering with your life. So if you are mildly depressed but are able to control it with out medication but positive living and thinking I don't think you really qualify as "ill" (that's a pretty mild depression BTW!).

On the other hand, there is really nothing wrong about being mentally ill! Lots of people have different brain chemistry that makes them unique.

One of the greatest thing I have ever heard was a group naming July "Mad Month" where people could celebrate their madnesses! Unfortunately there also seems to be some supporting of non-medical treatment for very sever illnesses, if your paranoid schizophrenic - I'm sorry but you need to be mediated for the safety of those around you!

Either way, I loved the idea of people coming together to celebrate their unique madness!!

*sorry about the mommy brain interlude there, the words will come to me in a few minutes... and they did... phew!
post #6 of 12
Mental illness is anything that denotes a problem with the brain's chemical balance and/or thought processes. Anti-depressants and other anti-psychotic medications tweak the brain's chemicals thus restoring (hopefully) mental health.

Just like a diabetic who needs to take insulin. Their pancreas isn't functioning properly so they need insulin so the cells in our bodies are able to process the glucose and therefore give us energy for movement, growth, repair, or other functions.

A person with mental illness who needs medication to correct the chemical balance is not cured. Their condition is being managed but if they stop taking the medication, the brain's chemistry becomes imbalanced again.

Same with the diabetic. So long as they are taking their insulin, they too are fine, but if they stop taking it the sugar builds up in the blood because the pancreas still cannot produce the insulin that is required to absorb the glucose into the body's cells.

Psychiatrists and Psychologists treat brain disorders.

MD's with or without specialties treat other body disorders. Specialties could be anything from ear/nose/throat, gynecology, neurologists (they deal with the actual brain, not the mentality/thought process portion of it), to a neonatologist who specializes in infants. Some MD's will prescribe anti-depressants, but IMHO anti-depressants should be prescribed in addition to psychological treatment.
post #7 of 12
Originally Posted by LawGuy View Post
The reason I ask this is that yesterday I ran across a liability release contract that contained a clause affirming that the contractee has not ever been treated for or diagnosed as mentally ill.
I believe the key word here is "diagnosed." Not everyone who goes to a psychiatrist is mentally ill; not everyone who is mentally ill sees a psychiatrist, so it sounds like the people who wrote that contract want to weed out the ones who have been evaluated and positively diagnosed as mentally ill.

Sometimes I feel like everyone is mentally ill in one way or another.
post #8 of 12
That is quite a broad statement in that contract. If you have depression or have been treated for it or bipolar or anything else does that make you unfit to do this task. I have a biochemical, genetically routed form of depression. I am a very, very high functioning person. I am on medication and have been for nearly 20 years. It was a godsend and a blessing. So clinically and legally, I don't know how to answer your question.
post #9 of 12
Originally Posted by LawGuy View Post
So is it that anything a psychiatrist or psychologist treats considered mental illness?
Why don't you take a lot at the DSM-IV and various things it's used for?

And no, not everything they diagnosis is an "illness" that needs to be treated. If for example I was willing to part with several hundred dollars from my bank account (no idea if my insurance would cover this) and actually get diagnosed with AS or another type of developmental disorder, I wouldn't need medication to make me "better". My brain is wired the way it is, and it will stay that way no matter what.
Other things like schizoid personality type is just that, an extreme in that direction that can't be cured. Sociopaths, narcissistics, histrionics (I bet most of us know one of these), and various other disorders may be helped by meds if they have co-morbids but again, they can't be cured of how their brain is "wired".

I don't consider a lot of various disorders to be mental illness, because normally these people aren't dangerous in anyway to anyone and can generally manage day to day. Some may be really difficult to be around. ( I suspect my father has OCPD - he's rather unbearable in anything but small doses) But having these things diagnosed and in one's medical records can affect their ability to get certain jobs among other things..
post #10 of 12
To me there is a different between illness and disease. I know many people who have from diabetes to heart disease to OCD's and mental problems- I don't consider them ill even though they may have a disease. To me the word ill is more like a temporary condition that happens when you are not feeling well. For example, a diabetic will be ill when his or her insulin jumps up but not in his entire life. So I don't think you can call depression a mental illness, maybe a mental disease or a mental condition??? I think we use the word mental illness in society to mean people who are not able to function at all in society, cannot communicate efficiently or something else, and have to be confined to a hospital or under the care of someone at their home.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Don't know how legal that is? I guess thats your area of expertise huh?
Nope. I am trying to figure out the legality, but it isn't my area of expertise. I'm still learning, and also I have to get through law school and pass the bar before I can call anything my area of expertise.

After doing some reading, I think this would get lumped into the "ambiguous language" category? I could be wrong.

In a few months after I've gotten through my first Contracts course maybe I'll have a better idea.
post #12 of 12
There are many things in contracts that don't hold up in court, and I would suspect that is one. Another is the "Not Responsible for Loss or Damage" on the back of parking tickets or repair orders.

By the way, one of the first things done by Obama was signing the bill that required mental illnesses to be treated the same as physical illnesses and injuries by insurance companies.

And the word you mentioned is usually spelled ailurophobia, I believe.
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