what is mental illness

Many people wonder, “What is mental illness?” because they aren’t taught about in school. It’s important for people to understand mental illness for a variety of reasons. Knowing how to identify and treat a mental illness prevents unhealthy coping mechanisms. Afterall, undiagnosed mental illnesses are the leading cause of drug and alcohol addiction.

What is Mental Illness?

What does mental health mean? Generally, a healthy mind has emotional balance. It also functions correctly, with each portion of the brain at operational capacity. Additionally, there are many different reasons mental illnesses develop.

The most common forms of mental illness are anxiety and depression. Sadness and stress are normal human traits, but when someone has anxiety or depression, the brain functions much differently. For example, anxiety occurs in the amygdala, which is responsible for the fight or flight response. Typically, depression occurs because of a lack of specific chemicals responsible for feelings of pleasure and motivation.

The other common mental illnesses include:

  • PTSD
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder

How Does Mental Illness Lead to Addiction?

As said before, mental illness is one of the leading causes of addiction. Since many people don’t receive an education about what mental illness is, developing one can be traumatic. When you’re unaware of your mental health, you’re a lot less likely to see a therapist or psychiatrist. Because you don’t know how to cope, you may turn to drugs or alcohol. This is extremely dangerous.


Humans have context-dependent memory, which means we repeat actions that help us solve problems. The more someone uses to cope with mental illness symptoms, the more compulsive drug or alcohol use becomes. As a coping mechanism, the brain automatically craves drugs or alcohol until substance abuse becomes a bigger problem. Once a person realizes their addictive behavior, they often don’t have the power to stop using.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you find you can’t stop drinking or using drugs, come to Steps to Recovery in Levittown, PA. We’ll provide you with an individual treatment plan that not only treats your mental illness but your addiction as well. The programs we offer include:

Give us a call today at 267.209.7312 to reach lasting recovery, and understand a little more about what is mental illness.