What Does the Term 'Mentally Unstable' Mean?

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While the terms "mental instability" or "mentally unstable" may still be used, neither is an official diagnosis and each is highly stigmatizing and offensive. More appropriate terms include "mental health condition" and "mental health disorder."

Mental instability, while not an official diagnosis, is a very broad term that people use to refer to a wide range of mental health conditions.

It's important to note that the terms "mental instability" or "mentally unstable" carry negative and stigmatizing connotations. Preferred terms include "mental health condition" or "mental health disorder."

Some common examples of mental health conditions include anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Signs of a Mental Health Condition

There are a variety of signs that may indicate someone is dealing with a mental health disorder. It is important to remember that not all of these signs will be present in every case and that symptoms look different from person to person.

However, some common signs of a mental health disorder include:

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Common Mental Health Diagnoses

Some common examples of mental health conditions may include: anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD.

  • Anxiety: Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health disorder in the United States, affecting 40 million adults. Symptoms of anxiety can include excessive worry, racing thoughts, sweating, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Depression: Depression is a common mental health condition that can cause a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. Other symptoms of depression can include fatigue, changes in appetite, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings, from periods of mania to periods of depression. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can include sleep problems, irritability, and changes in energy levels.
  • Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that causes people to experience delusions and hallucinations. Symptoms of schizophrenia can include social withdrawal, disorganized thinking, and unusual behavior.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance of people or places associated with the trauma.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know is dealing with a mental health condition, a mental health professional can assess the situation and provide a diagnosis, if necessary.

Impact of Mental Health Disorder Symptoms

Below are some of the potential impacts of symptoms caused by a mental health disorder:

  • Difficulty functioning at work or school: Symptoms can make it difficult to concentrate, focus, and complete tasks. This can lead to problems at work or school.
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships: Symptoms can make it difficult to interact with others, leading to social isolation.
  • Increased risk of self-harm or suicide: Symptoms can increase the risk of engaging in self-destructive behaviors.
  • Poor physical health: Symptoms can lead to poor self-care, which can impact physical health.
  • Financial difficulties: Symptoms can make it difficult to maintain employment, leading to financial problems.
  • Homelessness: Symptoms can make it difficult to maintain stable housing, which can lead to homelessness.
  • Substance abuse: Symptoms can lead to substance abuse as a way of self-medicating.

How to Help Someone With a Mental Disorder

If you are worried about someone you know, there are a few things you can do to help.

First, it is important to talk to the person about your concerns. This can be a difficult conversation, but it is important to express your support and let the person know that you are there for them. It is also important to encourage the person to seek professional help. Mental health professionals can provide the necessary support and treatment.

How Are Mental Health Disorders Treated?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating mental health conditions, as the best course of treatment will vary depending on the underlying factors. However, some common treatments include therapy, medication, and self-care.

Coping With a Mental Health Disorder

It is important to take care of yourself. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly.

Below is a list of specific steps that you can take:

  • Seek professional help: It is important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can assess the situation and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
  • Avoid self-medicating: It is important to avoid self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. As doing so may lead to addiction.
  • Find healthy coping mechanisms: It is also important to find healthy ways to cope with stress. This can include talking to a friend or family member, writing in a journal, or listening to music.

A Word From Verywell

If you are dealing with a mental health condition, it is important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can assess the situation and develop a treatment plan that is right for you. Coping and healing are possible with the proper course of treatment.

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12 Sources
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