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Myths About Mental Illness, Get The Facts

Updated on November 8, 2015

Myths about mental illness made clear. The myths about mental illness are what keeps those who suffer in the closet.

Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and other mental illness disorders can confuse and terrify those who misunderstand what mental illness is. Being truthful and straightforward about your mental illness can help other people better understand your mental illness. It can help others appreciate, respect, and defeat stigma that all to often comes along with mental illness. The fact is that, mental illness is a real brain disorder.

There are people who think bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD and other brain/mood disorders are not real illnesses. Psychiatric disorders are true medical illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, brain and mood disorders are in fact real medical illnesses that have a biological and genetic cause as well as a physical cause. Mental illness disorders can be inherited from generation to generation. The good news is that mental illness is a very treatable condition.

Unfortunately mental illness is a lifelong disorder. It doesn't just go away as you get older. Often times it first appears in young adulthood or later in older adults. Another myth is that people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia have violent and deranged tendencies. When in fact the statistics show that they are no less violent than the general population.

There are many successful psychiatric medications to treat bipolar disorder, OCD and schizophrenia. You can't just make a mental illness go away. Serious mental illness requires professional help, that may include a medication routine, psychotherapy combined with a plan for wellness. Medications like lithium, tegretol, seroquel, depakote, and lamictal can be very effective in treating mental illness. These medications are anti-psychotics, anti-depressants and mood stabilizers.

The good news is that with the right treatment plan, staying medication compliant, support from friends and family and regular therapy sessions people with a mental illness can thrive. Stability, good health and a well balanced life can be attainable. There are more treatment services and community based support systems available in your community. People with mental health issues can and do lead normal lives, with a proper treatment plan.

Depression does not make you week or lazy

It is caused by chemical changes in the brain. You might need cognitive therapy if you have been depressed for a long time, to help you develop manageable coping skills.A medication such as an anti-depressant can also be prescribed to help manage depression, always consult your doctor if depression persists for a long period of time. They can make referrals to a mental health facility or help with other treatment options.

Schizophrenia is not spilt personality. It is an illness that progressively affects people to not think clearly or logically. Schizophrenics often experience withdrawal from reality, delusions, hallucinations, bizarre behavior, and disorganized speech. This can include lack of motivation or interest, diminished cognitive functioning, and diminished emotional articulation. Schizophrenia is a very misunderstood mental illness .Schizophrenia is associated with an imbalance of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain and may have an underlying genetic cause.

It is normal for the elderly to become depressed. Unfortunately it often goes unrecognized because it isn't reported most of the time. Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans age 65 and older, but only 10% receive treatment. Depression tends to last longer in elderly adults. It also doubles their risk of developing cardiac disease, reduces their ability to rehabilitate, and increases their risk of death from illness. The myth is that older adults are happy because they are near the retirement stage and have so much to look forward to, when in fact that is exactly what scares many seniors. Older adults have and do experience serious depression.

Children and teens can and do develop mental illnesses. 1 in 10 children and teens are affected by a mental disorder. During childhood the number of boys and girls affected are almost equal. In the teen years, twice as many girls as boys are diagnosed. Children with a family history of depression are at a greater risk of experiencing depression themselves. Children who have parents that suffer from depression tend to develop depression earlier than children whose parents do not. Children from chaotic or conflicted families, or children and teens who abuse substances like alcohol and drugs, are also at greater risk of depression.

People do however get better, the recovery process can begin with medications, therapy and positive treatment plans. You first need to recognize there is an illness and treatment options are available. There may be relapses, because treatment is not a cure, it is an ongoing process. With diligence and perseverance you can have wellness and productivity in your life.The myth that those affected with mental illness are not productive is just that, a myth.


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    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Your welcome TurtleDog- I am glad I was able to open your eyes to the realities of mental illness. It is people like you that we need on our side to help stomp out stigma. Thank you :)

    • TurtleDog profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks for dispelling some of the myths and exposing truths of mental illness. I am truly guilty of believing public myths related to these conditions. Way to clear some of these up.

      Thanks for posting! voted UP!

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you for your kind sentiments. You will never know how much they are appreciated. Depression can happen to anybody, and when it does, they shouldn't be ignored or simply dismissed. Your empathy is precious. Thank you :)

    • stars439 profile image


      10 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      A wonderful hub that says a lot about the real situations involving mental illness. You are so right. My heart goes out to troubled people that suffer from depression. Insecurity is one cause for depression. Most people simply want to earn a good living if they can. Good friends, kindness, and support is allways a plus. GBY.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Of course Mike life's experiences play a role in mental illness. When being tested for a mental illness all kinds of things are taken into consideration. Psychiatric disorders are true medical illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, I am not arguing how a person becomes mentally ill, just that it is a real illness like any other.

      Thank you Mike for sharing your thoughts.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      NOT taking life experience into consideration at all is absurd. There are so many enviromental factors that could have caused you to think a certain way. No one shares the exact same enviroment thus no one can rule out entirely the enviroments role. There are no biological tests to diagnose an "illness". You might not even remember all the reasons you think a certain way. This certainly doesn't make it biological. All the brain does is process things we see and hear.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Hey Chris,

      I am sorry your having a hard time. Keep pushing forward, it gets better. Thank you for the comments, they are greatly appreciated.

    • christalluna1124 profile image


      10 years ago from Dallas Texas


      Hi it's been awhile. It's been a hard two monthd for me. This is an excellent article educational and informative.

      Warmest regards,


    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Well Don that is one way to look at it. If it was that simple more people would be spending their money on fun things instead of medications, therapy and the many other treatments. Who wouldn't rather just tell themselves they aren't mentally ill than pay $600 dollars a month for medications? It is great when someone claims/and or is cured from their mood disorder.

      Neurological research has identified over fifty neurotransmitters in the human brain. This same research shows that several neurotransmitters are related to mental illness. Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and Gamma Aminobutyric Acid. Too much or not enough of these neurotransmitters lead psychiatric professionals to believe this causes psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.

      I have been through several therapies, relaxation techniques, hypnotism, and I am still bipolar. Mindfulness, CBT, Exposure and Response Prevention and so on. They may help to some degree but it is by no means a cure in my experience.

      I have been getting several comments on various posts to people just leaving a link to their website. I am not here to argue or be told I can be cured. I am sharing my experience and beliefs. And now that I approved your comment people will visit your website. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Don Salmon 

      11 years ago

      Hi, people often find it empowering to hear that our mind (and heart, which are inseparable, really) may have as much (or even more) power than medications to change our brain. Mindfulness affects neurotransmitters in the same way as medication does for OCD and Depression. Research has consistently shown for decades that psychological approaches are superior to medication for most anxiety disorders. Psychiatrist Daniel Siegel, in his just published book "Mindsight", tells of a bipolar teenager he worked with and cured through mindfulness - without any medication (it's simply not true that all mental illness is for life. Most people with even the severest depression can be completely cured with mindful CBT, for example. Bipolar has also been known to be "cured" by a combination of good therapy and medication. Most honest scientists will admit we know so little about the brain (and the mind - which is throughout the body, not just in the head) that we can't make any definitive pronouncements. And look at the intro do Dr. David Burns' "When Panic Attacks" - he explains quite clearly that in the last 50 years, there has not been one single study showing that depression or anxiety is "caused" by a chemical imbalance. It is a myth made up by drug companies. And the genetic causation studies for all disorders except schizophrenia have generally been shown to be quite flawed. I personally believed that the studies for schizophrenia were quite good (they look at identical twins raised apart). It turns out, even though studies have been replicated in several countries, that the methodology was poor and the authors of the research were often initially biased toward finding genetic causation. So we're back to square one. The "mind" is no less real than "matter" (which as more and more physicists are pointing out, is a pure abstraction, created by the mind to explain the apparent regularities in our experience. - it takes a LOT of careful and calm, logical, critical minded reflection to get this but it's worth it. It will turn your world upside down and inside out in a more complete manner than any "quantum mysticism" would.

      Attention - that's the key:>)

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      11 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you for reading and leaving comments. Just the other day I had a pretty heated argument about the whole chemical imbalance thing. About how we should just get over and try harder. That the diabetes comparison is not a good one. Many people just have their own beliefs, ignorance and refuse to understand bipolar.

      Without medication and therapy I can attest that I would not be around to even write this. But the people I know say I am being dramatic and seeking attention. So it is certainly an uphill battle. Thank you so much for your comments, and keep fighting the fight.:)

    • sasanqua profile image


      11 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thank you for writing this! I've experienced the negative things you have written about, including people not believing my mental illnesses are "real." I use the same example as you: That having a mental illness is as much of an illness as diabetes. When people question me as to why I'm taking medication for something that's "all in your head" I compare my taking medication to having insulin injections. You can't see mental illness, you can't see diabetes, but they are serious illnesses that need treatment, and cannot be cured by willpower alone!

    • madellen profile image


      12 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hope you'll visit my site for some alternative new perspectives on mental illness.



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