There are many reasons why people suffer from bouts of depression and anxiety, but thankfully the stigma surrounding mental health is slowly lifting. More and more people are coming forward to speak about their struggles, which in turn is helping others in similar situations. Writing compelling characters is no easy feat. Readers won’t be able to connect with your protagonist unless you give them something relatable to latch on to. And one common way of bringing a character to life is by giving them a mental illness. This technique isn’t new at all; authors have used it for centuries to explore hidden depths and aspects of the human mind that most of us don’t understand until we read about it. Let’s take a look at some common types of mental illnesses:
What is Depression?
The definition of depression changes depending on who you ask. For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the common symptoms of depression as defined by the Mayo Clinic: Depression is a common mental illness that affects how you feel, think, and behave. Symptoms can vary from person to person and may include feelings of hopelessness or sadness, anger, restlessness, a sense of being bored, a change in appetite, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate. These feelings can last for days or weeks, but when they last more than two weeks, it’s considered a depressive disorder. If you have depressive symptoms that are severe and last more than two weeks, it is important to talk to a doctor or mental health provider. You can easily get Christian depression help. They can help you figure out which treatment is best for you.
Depression- a symptom of many disorders
There are many types of depression, and the same factors do not cause all of them. Some forms of depression are triggered by a chemical imbalance in the brain, while others are caused by external factors, like the death of a loved one. Some of the most common types of depression include – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): This type of depression is caused by the lack of daylight in winter. It isn’t a mental illness, but the symptoms can be treated like other forms of depression. – Endogenous Depression: This type of depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s usually treated with antidepressants, counseling, and/or psychotherapy. – Reactive Depression: This form of depression is often caused by external factors, like a divorce or death in the family. It’s usually treated with counseling and/or psychotherapy. – Bipolar Disorder: This is a mood disorder characterized by extreme mood swings, including both episodes of mania and depression. Medication and therapy are the most common forms of treatment.
Anxiety disorders are conditions marked by excessive and irrational worry or fear. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18% of the population. There are many types of anxiety disorders, but the most common include: – Generalized Anxiety Disorder: People with generalized anxiety disorder have excessive anxiety about many aspects of life and often have trouble controlling their worry. – Social Anxiety Disorder: Social anxiety disorder is the fear of being negatively judged by others and can seriously impact a person’s ability to function in daily life. – Panic Disorder: People with panic disorder often experience extreme fear and worry accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or a racing heartbeat.
Someone with bipolar disorder experiences extreme mood swings, including periods of depression and periods of extreme elation or mania. While the most common form of bipolar disorder begins in adulthood, it can also affect children and teens. Bipolar disorder is often treated with a combination of therapy and mood-stabilizing medications.
Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that causes hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thought processes. People with schizophrenia often have trouble holding down jobs and maintaining relationships. Most people with schizophrenia need lifelong care to prevent further episodes of the illness. While there is no cure for schizophrenia, medication can help control symptoms. Therapy can also help people with schizophrenia learn ways of coping with mental illness.
OCD and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes people to have unwanted, intrusive thoughts, urges, and recurring rituals and behaviors. While most people occasionally feel guilty after eating too much chocolate or spending too much time watching Netflix, people with OCD experience these thoughts and urges as uncontrollable, irrational impulses that feel like they must be obeyed. OCD can affect any person at any age and has no known cause. It is treated with therapy and/or medication, which can help people with OCD learn how to manage their symptoms and live healthy and productive lives.
These are only some of the most common mental illnesses you can use in writing. Remember, each comes with a unique set of symptoms that can vary from person to person. And while mental illnesses are treatable, they are not curable. Most of these disorders are linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain, and as such, they will require therapy to manage the symptoms. If a character in your story is experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, research possible causes and symptoms before diving in head first. If you research and understand the struggles people with mental illness face daily, you can use it as inspiration for your story. When you create characters with mental illnesses, you are shining a light on the plight of others who need help and understanding.