Have you ever asked yourself “Am I crazy?” Maybe you did an online test to see if you could be classified as crazy, or if there was anything “wrong” with you. The easy answer to this question is no, you are not crazy. The term “crazy” is commonly used in a colloquial sense to describe anything from losing one’s temper to experiencing a psychotic break. It is certainly not used as a medical diagnosis.
There is also a lot of judgment associated with the question: “Am I crazy?” All mental illnesses are medical conditions, rather than judgments of your character.
Instead of asking if you’re crazy, you should consider whether you may suffer from a mental illness. Mental illness affects around one in five American adults and is nothing to be ashamed of.
Here is everything you need to know about mental illness along with ways in which you can determine whether you are suffering from a type of mental illness.
What Is Mental Illness?
Mental illness refers to illnesses with symptoms that are primarily exhibited in your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. These illnesses affect your mood, personality and the way in which you think about life.
Mental illnesses range from mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder (which affect how you feel for extended periods of time) to personality disorders (which affect the way in which you engage with life on a personal, career and social level).
Early Signs of Mental Illness
The following are early signs that you may be suffering from a mental illness:
- Extreme mood changes, causing you to feel very low or (conversely) ecstatic
- Obsessive thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Oversleeping or insomnia
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Excessive fatigue
- Suicidal thoughts
- Binge eating
- Not eating until it becomes absolutely necessary
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Extreme anger and aggression
- Difficulty forming or maintaining relationships
If you are experiencing one or more of these signs, or if you have asked yourself “Am I crazy?”; you may be suffering from a mental illness and you probably should seek professional help.
No one is immune to mental illness, regardless of their socioeconomic status or their upbringing. With that said, there are various factors that may put you at a higher risk for developing a mental illness than others. For example:
- A family history of mental illness
- Coming from a dysfunctional family
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Social isolation
- Having experienced prejudice against your race or sexuality
However, if any of the factors listed above apply to you; it does not necessarily mean that you will suffer from mental illness. On the other hand, even if none of the factors in the list apply to you; you may still be suffering from mental illness.
Mental Health Statistics
If you have asked the question: “Am I crazy?”, you are not alone. Millions of people in the United States suffer from a mental illness of one kind or another. Many of them have not sought out professional help due to stigma or the fear of being called crazy.
There are some very telling mental health statistics that make this clearer.
- Nearly one in five American adults suffers from one or more mental illnesses. That’s over 44 million people.
- Only 43% of this number (19 million) received treatment in the last year.
- More women receive treatment than men.
- Although women are more likely to report mental illness, men are twice as likely to commit suicide.
- Young adults (18 to 25) are more likely to seek treatment than any other adult age group.
As you can see, despite the fact that mental illness is a huge problem in the US, most people who suffer from it do not receive treatment. This is in part due to the lack of access or awareness. The stigma that is associated with being “crazy” is certainly another significant aspect.
How Does Mental Illness Develop?
When you stop asking “Am I crazy?” and begin looking at mental illness through a more scientific lens, you can begin to get a better understanding of your problem.
Mental illnesses develop due to a number of factors. While we differentiate between mental and physical illness, most mental illnesses also have physical aspects. Thus, the risk of mental illness can be passed down in the genes.
Many mental illnesses can be caused by an imbalance in certain chemicals in the brain. The most common example is depression. It is caused in part by low levels of serotonin, the chemical that is responsible for the feeling of joy.
There are also environmental factors that can lead to mental illness. These include trauma in your past, low self-esteem and family problems.
Mental Illness Stigma
Whatever the cause, it is important to remember that developing a mental illness is not your fault. No matter how you are doing in life, you are doing the best you can with the resources you have. Good treatment provides you with better resources that you can use to manage your emotions and cope with your mental illness.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way. Some people still have an archaic view of mental illness. They typically regard it as a weakness or even as a spiritual affliction. This makes it all the more difficult to speak about your struggles and, sadly, it is often the reason why some people choose to suffer in silence.
No matter how strong you are, you can become afflicted with mental illness. Mental disorders are illnesses just like any other types of disorders, and without professional help you are going have trouble recovering.
Common Mental Disorders
The following are some of the most common mental disorders you may be suffering from.
People suffering from anxiety disorders are perhaps the least likely to Google the words “Am I crazy?” They often seem so, well, normal. And anxiety is indeed normal. Everyone will experience anxiety at some point. However, it is when the anxiety begins to affect your everyday functioning that it is classified as a disorder.
The most common anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Mood disorders refer to mental illnesses that cause extreme mood changes. While feeling sad or joyful is perfectly normal, being in a state of extreme depression or ecstasy is not. Without treatment, these disorders can lead to major problems along with the threat of self-harm and suicide.
The most common mood disorders are:
- Bipolar disorder
Other mood disorders generally include periods of depression or mania (or both) that are present at specific times; such as after the birth of a child or during a particular season.
Schizophrenia disorders are those in which an individual experiences what is called a psychotic break. They may feel dissociated from themselves and they are not always able to tell what is real. They may experience hallucinations or delusions and they are generally unable to think coherently.
People who ask “Am I crazy?” are often thinking of schizophrenia, seeing as it is a mental illness that blurs the line between what is real and what isn’t. However, unlike the vague and chaotic “craziness” many people imagine; schizophrenia has a very specific definition, diagnosis and treatment.
People with schizophrenia are often unlikely to seek help on their own terms and may need a loved one to find treatment for them.
4 Reasons Why It May Be Time To Get Help
Okay, so you’re suffering from a mental illness. But maybe you have been suffering for a long time without dangerous or permanent consequences. Why should you get help now?
It Affects Your Daily Functioning
Everyone experiences many of the symptoms of mental illness throughout their lives. However, unless it affects your daily functioning, it is not considered a disorder. It does not mean that you should not get help. But once it starts affecting your daily functioning, you are in particular need of it.
Obsessive thoughts are a sign of mental illness and it is often a driving factor that convinces people to seek treatment. These may be anxious thoughts, suicidal thoughts or thoughts that you would not expect to be thinking about repeatedly.
Feeling Distressed or Overwhelmed
Anyone struggling with mental illness will feel somewhat distressed. But once you start feeling overwhelmed, you will most likely recognize that you cannot handle this on your own.
You are Totally Convinced
If you have asked “Am I crazy?” and answered with complete certainty that you are, you should definitely seek help. This does not mean you’re actually “crazy,” but it does mean that you’ve recognized that there is a serious problem that you need help for.
Mental Health Treatment Options
Once you’ve decided that you need help, there are some mental health treatment options you can consider.
Therapy is the original psychological treatment for mental illness and it is still considered critical in treating any psychological disorder. In therapy, you will discuss your problems and work with your therapist towards managing your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors more effectively. These days, therapy no longer needs to be a massive time commitment. You now have the option of using online therapy from wherever you happen to be.
If you are suffering from a mental illness with a physical cause, medication may be helpful. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication, which can treat anything from depression to schizophrenia, with varying levels of success. Medication is best used in conjunction with psychotherapy and other treatments.
If you’re not convinced that you need to see a professional, you might be open to trying self-help. This includes everything from choosing to eat better, exercising more and quitting drugs or alcohol. While self-help can be useful, it is not usually sufficient when treating mental illness. Rather see a professional who can advise you on the best course of action.
Am I Crazy?
If you’ve been asking yourself “Am I crazy?” you are certainly ready to get help. Admitting that there is a problem is the first step towards dealing with it. Remember, you’re not crazy, but you may be suffering from an illness. Get the help you need and search for treatment options, as you would for any other kind of illness.