We are strengthened by the power of the resurrection
living within us
a trained health care professional or a lay individual, trying to determine
expected behaviors from what might be signs of mental illness is tricky in a
majority of cases. No test can let anyone know if there is a mental illness or
if the behaviors and thoughts of a person are "normal."
is a long list of common signs for what is considered a mental illness. The
list is long and vague. Health care professionals rely on data compiled in a
book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The
American Psychiatric Association publishes that book.
warning signs can help let you know if you need to speak to a professional. A
problem exists with recognizing the warning signs, though. For
example, the following is a list provided by NAMI– National Alliance on Mental Health:
Excessive worrying or fear
Feeling excessively sad or low
Confused thinking or problems
concentrating and learning
Extreme mood changes, including
uncontrollable "highs" or feelings of euphoria
Prolonged or strong feelings of
irritability or anger
Avoiding friends and social
Difficulties understanding or
relating to other people
Changes in sleeping habits or
feeling tired and low energy
Changes in eating habits such as
increased hunger or lack of appetite
Changes in sex drive
Difficulty perceiving reality
(delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things
that don't exist in objective reality)
Inability to perceive changes in
one's feelings, behavior or personality (" lack of insight" or
Overuse of substances like alcohol
or other drugs
Multiple physical ailments without
obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing "aches
Thinking about suicide
Inability to carry out daily
activities or handle everyday problems and stress
Intense fear of weight gain or
concern with appearance
Mental health conditions can also
begin to develop in young children. Because they're still learning how to
identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are
behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:
Changes in school performance
Excessive worry or anxiety, for
instance, fighting to avoid bed or school
Frequent disobedience or aggression
Frequent temper tantrums
diagnosis, a health care provider can help develop a treatment plan that could
include medication, therapy, or other lifestyle changes. I believe under the
treatment plan “lifestyle changes,” it should be understood our relationship
with God is top of that category.
while reading that list of warning signs, you found yourself in there, welcome
to the club. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 5 people
has a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Virtually everyone knows
someone with a mental illness.
problem is to do away with pain and suffering is to be asking to be something
other than human. We are all affected either directly or indirectly by mental
health issues. Mental health issues are nothing new. For example, consider from
Scripture or secular historical documentation people like David, Solomon, or
Herod. It probably wouldn’t be too far a stretch of the imagination to include
John the Baptizer or even the Essenes. The list can go on and on.
considerable problem involving mental health is the unfortunate fact that many
people refuse to accept mental illness as a real illness. Brain chemistry
contributes to mental illness, so mental illness is not a choice; it is an
actual illness. Too often, in my experience, I find people thinking mental
illness is just an attitude problem. We, as a culture, need to talk, listen,
and learn about mental illness. How we respond to those with mental illness
partly depends on what we believe about God. What has happened, unfortunately, because
of our culture, we have stigmatized those affected by mental illness. Stigmatized
to the point that those suffering, including me, seek professional help as a
can’t help but think that we all are guilty of adding to the stigmatization at
some point. Have you ever called someone crazy? Did you mean it lovingly and
compassionately? We must all stop and think before we use words like nuts,
psycho crazy, freak, spastic, basket case, unhinged, screwloose, or maniac.
They are demeaning and contribute to stigma.
I, and many others, speak of mental illness we mean conditions like depression,
schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety disorders, mental disturbances like autism,
learning disabilities, ADHD, addictions to alcohol and other drugs. All these
conditions affect the same area of the brain and disturb by varying degrees the
mental function of cognition, perception, and emotional regulation. The list of
warning signs mentioned earlier fits in this list of the more commonly heard
disorders or conditions.
Doctoral Degree is not in medicine. Though while working on my doctoral
dissertation, I spent years doing scholarly research on the brain,
neuroscience, and resulting functional behaviors. I mean to share only my
personal opinion next. Mental health conditions never go away. However, they
can all be made manageable. I have great days and occasionally some extremely
dark days. Some of my days are overflowing with hope and enthusiasm. Other days
exhibit to the world my brokenness.
I found, after many years, what worked and
continues to work for me. First, I came to the Cross, admitted to God that I
was no longer in control of my thoughts and actions. I acknowledged that I was
scared and was tired of trying to fix myself. I confessed my sins and pleaded
for His forgiveness and help. He guided me to seek advice from the medical
community. My faith and my medical team have made an improvement that I can
live with. I reflect on the past year and ask myself if I had more good days
than bad days. Since following my advice, I see a vast improvement in my well-being.
I had to humble myself before God completely and then swallow my pride and ego
again as I accepted help from my medical team.
know longer react negatively to being stigmatized personally, but I do react when
I see it being directed at others. There is no way I, or anyone else, can cover
mental health in this short space. So I will do what I believe I am being
directed by God to share.
the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Next, love your neighbor
Think before you speak.
listen, and learn about mental illness.
that mental illness is a real illness and not an attitude problem.
your neighbor as yourself.
don’t need to say everything you think.
loves everyone – equally.
you believe you are suffering, know that God loves you just the way you are.
Talk to Him regularly and dismiss the naysayers.
do you define mental health?
there warning signs? If so, what are some?
are there so few cases of people affected by mental health issues?
you or someone you know suffers from a mental health issue, how can you help?
long does it take to fix a mental health issue like depression?
can you do to help someone who has a