June 28, 2024 in Employee Wellness, Mental Health Awareness, Physical Health

Broken Brains

When we can identify mental illnesses, we can put the pieces back together again.

Mental health issues and mental illness are two closely related topics but not the same thing. Anxiety and depression are the mental illnesses we speak of mostly and therefore the mental illnesses we mostly link to metal health. The topic of mental health usually also includes burnout and the inability to check-in with oneself to ensure that they have been taking care of themselves wholistically.

Mental illness, however, delves deeper into the chemical imbalances and sometimes even physical differences in the brain (seen in brain scan comparisons) which could result in processing and behavioural differences, among others. These are wide ranging from mood disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, trauma related disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, neurocognitive disorders, substance and addictive related disorders, and impulsive control disorders. For a more detailed list of mental illnesses, please click here as well as the DSM-5 -the guide for mental health providers.

Many people with diagnosed and undiagnosed mental illnesses often describe feeling like their brains are broken, this is because they know that they aren’t processing, behaving or responding like others but can’t help it. If a diagnosis is reached, there are plenty of treatment options available to those struggling with mental illness and they can resume to live their version of a normal life, depending on the diagnosis.

A few symptoms that may serve as an alarm include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Episodes ranging from depressive lows to manic highs
  • Excessive and  uncontrollable worry
  • Recurrent, unexpected panic attacks
  • Intense fear of social situations
  • Severe fear of specific objects or situations
  • Recurrent unwanted thoughts, obsessions and compulsions
  • Preoccupation with perceived flaws with physical appearance
  • Persistent distress following traumatic exposures/ events
  • Experiencing delusions, hallucinations and impaired functioning
  • Extreme restrictions of food intake in fear of gaining weight
  • Episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting
  • Unstable relationships, self-image and emotions
  • Disregard for the rights of others, being deceitful and lack of remorse
  • Pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.
  • Conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, and communication
  • Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness
  • Dependence on or abuse of substances and gambling
  • Persistent pattern of angry or irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behaviour, or vindictiveness
  • Repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour that violates the basic rights of others or major societal norms/rules

Understanding the various types of mental illnesses is crucial for recognizing symptoms, seeking appropriate treatment, and providing support to those affected. Each disorder has unique features and requires tailored approaches for effective management. Awareness and education can help reduce stigma and improve access to mental health services, leading to better outcomes for individuals and communities.


1.”Mental illness – Symptoms and causes”. Mayo Clinic. 8 June 2019. Archived from the original on 2 May 2022. Retrieved 3 May 2020

2.”Mental Disorders”. Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 15 September 2014. Archived from the original on 15 April 2021. Retrieved 10 June 2016

3.American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association. pp. 101–05. doi:10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596. ISBN 9780890425541.

4.”Chapter 6 on mental, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorders”. ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity Statistics, 2018 version. Archived from the original on 1 August 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2018.

5.Peter Tyrer (2013) Models for Mental Disorder, Wiley-Blackwell ISBN 978-1-118-54052-7

6.Doward J (11 May 2013). “Medicine’s big new battleground: does mental illness really exist?”. The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 June 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2016.

7.”Mental Health: Types of Mental Illness”. WebMD. 1 July 2005. Archived from the original on 9 March 2021. Retrieved 29 September 2009.

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