The term “Mental Illness” can mean many things to different people. We often use the phrase to discuss illnesses treated by Psychiatrists and other Mental Health Providers. It comes from older concepts that there is a difference between illnesses caused by the body and illnesses caused by the mind.

As the leading providers of psychiatric care in Fargo, we at Saint Sophie’s are sharing our conjoined years of experience and proven medical knowledge to better educate our clients and community about common disorders and how to treat them. This guide is useful if it’s suspected that either you or a loved one might currently be suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness.

What Are the 9 Most Common Types of Mental Illness?

  1. ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which a a person has difficulties with paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It is typically observed to begin in childhood, but there is an increasing amount of adults being diagnosed later in life. It often impacts your performance at school, work, and in personal relationships. Anxiety Disorders include a range of differing conditions like generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, and other phobias. Anxiety causes you to feel excessive worry, heightened fear, and other psychological responses that can cause a serious impact on daily life.
  2. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition that affects each person differently, hence it being a spectrum. Autism impacts how a person might handle social interactions, communication, and their behavior, compared to the average person. The level at which someone is impaired or strengthened by it varies.
  3. Bipolar Disorder (previously manic depression) is a disorder that causes extreme swings between manic and depressive episodes. The changing states of mind can make you feel elevated and energized to low and sluggish, each state causing changes in your thoughts, behavior and ability to function in a healthy manner.
  4. Depression is common, most of us will feel depressed at one time or another in our lives. Depression causes a feeling of persistent sadness, a loss of interest in what brings you joy, and many other cognitive and physical symptoms. Left untreated, it can seriously impact your daily life.
  5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive, distressing, and obsessive thoughts and actions that are difficult (if not impossible) to control on your own. Obsessive rituals (behaviors and habits) can cause real and harmful impairments in daily life and your relationships without professional intervention.
  6. Psychotic Disorders cause an intrusive experience of hallucinations, delusions, abnormal thinking, and a loss of connection from reality. These disorders can cause severe disruptions to your everyday life and require psychiatric evaluation for adequate treatment.
  7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs after a traumatic event and causes recurring memories, flashbacks, nightmares and the tendency to avoid any situation that reminds you of the incident. The severity of PTSD can differ between people who witnessed the same situation, but it can greatly affect your daily life until it’s addressed by a psychiatrist.
  8. Eating Disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are disorders that affect a person's perception of body image and causes unhealthy eating habits. They can cascade into more complicated physical and psychological issues.

How Can You Tell if Someone Has a Mental Illness?

If you suspect a loved one is suffering from a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, learning how to recognize the signs and early intervention is the best way to ensure their health and safety. Consider the following questions, their answers can offer some crucial insight on the severity of the situation.

  • How often have you been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things?
  • How often have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?
  • How often do you have a poor appetite or overeat?
  • How often do you feel bad for yourself, that you are a failure, or let someone down?
  • How often do you have thoughts that you would be better off dead or hurting yourself?
  • How often do you have trouble falling, staying asleep, or sleeping too much?
  • How often do you feel tired or have little energy?
  • How often do you move or speak so slowly that other people notice?
  • How often do you have trouble concentrating, such as reading the newspaper or watching television?
  • How difficult have the previously listed problems made for you at work, home, or with people?
Person mournfully leaning on a table

If you find that these questions resonate with your experiences, it may be helpful to take the Saint Sophie’s Depression Test. This assessment tool can provide further clarity and help us guide you toward an effective treatment or management plan.

What Are Common Causes of Mental Illness?

Mental illness can arise from a complex combination of various factors that impact your mental and emotional well-being. Understanding these causes can shed light on the origins of mental health challenges.

  • Childhood trauma
  • Physical, verbal, or sexual abuse
  • Neglect or abandonment
  • Social isolation or loneliness
  • Discrimination or stigma
  • Poverty or extreme debt
  • Grief or bereavement
  • Chronic and extended periods of stress
  • Long-term or terminal health conditions
  • Genetics or personal brain chemistry

How Can a Psychiatrist Help Treat Mental Illness?

A licensed psychiatrist or licensed psychiatric care specialist plays a pivotal role in assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental illness. Patients of Saint Sophie’s Psychiatric Center will first have a diagnostic evaluation to give us a baseline understanding of your current mental state. We also consider your personal history to identify previous signs and symptoms of a mental disorder that you may not have been aware of.

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that you or a loved one have a clear plan to manage their mental illness to stay happy, healthy, and feel supported. After each evaluation, we will suggest a treatment plan that may include prescription medications, psychotherapy, and additional visits with one of our trained psychiatric specialists.

What Medications Are Used to Treat Mental Illnesses?

The psychiatrists at Saint Sophies are qualified to prescribe a variety of prescription medications to alleviate the symptoms of different mental illnesses. These medications can target specific neurochemicals that cause imbalances, and contribute to the intensity of your particular disorder or condition.

Common Medications Used to Treat Mental Illness:

Antidepressants: Designed to counteract symptoms of depression and anxiety by influencing neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. They can help improve mood, energy levels, and overall well-being.

Mood Stabilizers: Particularly useful in managing bipolar disorder, these medications help stabilize mood fluctuations between depressive and manic episodes, promoting emotional Stability.

Anti-Anxiety Medications: Aimed at reducing excessive anxiety and panic symptoms by modulating neurotransmitter activity, these medications help restore a sense of calmness and Control.

Stimulants: Primarily prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), stimulants increase the availability of certain neurotransmitters, improving focus, attention, and impulse Control.

Antipsychotics: Effective in treating psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, Antipsychotic medications work by influencing neurotransmitter balance and receptor activity.

We work closely with our patients to find medications that will have a positive impact and are observed to not cause any harmful side effects. We tailor our regiments to your specific needs to provide the greatest quality of life possible. You can expect us to monitor your progress, making new plans and shifting the treatment options when needed.

Can Mental Illness Be Cured?

Due to its complex nature, mental illness cannot typically be cured like other diseases. This is largely due to the genetic, biochemical, and complicated ways that mental disorders and conditions affect us. Thankfully, with the continuing advancements in mental health care, there are many treatment options that can significantly reduce the symptoms and intrusiveness of your illness, allowing you to regain control of your life and thoughts. Essentially, seeking professional medical help from a psychiatrist is the most important step you can take towards recovery or management.

What Should You Do If Someone Is Suicidal?

Without intervention, many mental illnesses can progress into self-harm, suicidal ideation, attempting suicide, or completing suicide. This is an extremely serious situation and it’s crucial to take immediate action. If someone is in a life-threatening and urgent situation, call 911. If they are in crisis, dial the suicide hotline at 988 can provide immediate support by connecting you with a trained professional who can provide comfort, listen, and offer helpful resources. Stepping in when someone is suicidal could save their life.

For additional guidance and resources, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website at

Schedule an Appointment with Saint Sophie's Psychiatric Center

At Saint Sophie's Psychiatric Center, we are passionate about offering the highest quality care to patients. This often is focused on medication management. We offer free computerized testing for ADHD and psychotherapy (individual, couples, and family). We provide telehealth and in-person appointments to patients in North Dakota and Minnesota. Contact us today to set up an appointment by filling out a contact form or calling our help desk at (701) 365-4488.

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