What is mental illness?

By: Thea Louise Jordal Vikanes

Everyone has mental health, and from time to time it varies in quality. However, in my opinion, there are multiple words used to describe our mental health that seem similar but have very different meanings. Mental illness is difficult to define because like our mental health it affects our cognition, feelings, behavior, and interaction with others. Still, there are some characteristics that separate poor mental health from having a mental illness. Firstly, mental illness can be classified depending on the symptoms, duration, and severity. The severity is based on how the different symptoms interfere with the individual`s daily life and well-being, for instance, it is common that after a traumatic event such as a breakup or a loss of a loved one that one's appetite changes for a short period of time. On the other hand, the increase or loss of appetite does not usually progress into a mental illness such as anorexia nervosa or binge eating disorder. In fact, having good mental health signifies that you can live and cope well despite experiencing problems. Nonetheless, I find it interesting that having a mental illness does not necessarily translate into having poor mental health. Just like other health problems, mental illness can be episodic and with the right treatment, they will have the possibility to live a great life. Although mental illness can affect anyone at any time, there are some groups that seem to be more prone than others, such as people with disabilities.


Martins. S (2021) Diagnosis of abnormal behaviour

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