A mental illness is a condition that affects your behavior and thinking patterns. Many people seek to cure mental illness like a physical malady, but the issue can be more complex. For example, a depressed person might view the world as a bleak place full of suffering. Before they developed depression, the same person might have enjoyed their daily routines and hobbies and looked forward to getting up every morning.
Disordered thoughts influence each person’s behavior. An anxious person might avoid social situations, forcing them to miss out on date nights and family gatherings. Conversely, a non-anxious person doesn’t think, “What if I have a panic attack while I’m there? What if someone forces me into an awkward conversation?” They attend social events and enjoy themselves.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly 20% of Americans live with a mental disorder. Mental illness treatment aims to change these thought patterns so people with mental disorders can enjoy their lives again. They might not find a cure, but they can learn skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
Can Mental Illness Be Cured?
When patients ask “Can disorders be cured?” they hope for an easy solution, like using a bandage and antibiotics to treat a burn. However, unlike an injury or a disease, actions and thought patterns can be difficult to measure. Professionals tend to focus on treating instead of “curing” the mental disorder.
If you think “Life is hopeless,” medication can’t erase that thought from your brain. Instead, therapy can teach you about healthy, realistic thinking patterns that challenge these beliefs. Therapy isn’t a mental illness cure — it’s a process that could continue for the rest of your life.
Sometimes, a brain chemistry imbalance can cause a mental disorder. For example, if your brain doesn’t produce enough dopamine or serotonin, you might exhibit depressive symptoms, such as fatigue and irritability. Your doctor might prescribe an antidepressant that encourages your brain to produce these chemicals again.
Still, medication might not be enough to solve the issue. Some patients don’t react well to medication due to differences in their brain chemistry. A medication that improves one patient’s mood could have no effect on another. Others experience worsening symptoms or find the side effects decrease their quality of life.
What Is a Treatment vs. A Cure?
A cure eradicates the condition and prevents it from returning without outside influence. If a doctor cures pneumonia, the patient recovers and resumes their life as usual. They could catch pneumonia again, but the initial infection is gone.
Treatment doesn’t eradicate the issue — instead, it helps the patient manage the condition and potentially overcome their challenges. A treatment plan for mental health disorders could include therapy, medication and education over a years-long period.
Some mental illnesses resurface throughout the patients’ lives like chronic pain. Treatment teaches them to challenge their thinking patterns so they don’t experience a sudden decline.
What Are the Consequences of Leaving Mental Disorders Untreated?
Instead of asking, “Is there a cure for mental illness?” and seeking help, many people avoid treatment altogether. Common reasons for leaving mental disorders untreated include:
- Hoping the issue will go away on its own
- Believing they don’t have the time or money for treatment
- Feeling like they should “tough it out”
- Assuming their disorder is untreatable so they shouldn’t even try
- Hoping the disorder is temporary
- Listening to incorrect advice from friends and relatives
- Not realizing they have a disorder in the first place
The consequences vary for each individual. For some, the symptoms gradually decrease as they age, especially if their mental illness was tied to a specific situation, such as grief or job loss. Other mental illnesses can get worse. The patient could feel increasingly depressed, experience more panic attacks or fall into worsening delusions.
Over time, the patient might grow so accustomed to their mental disorder that they forget what it’s like to live without depression, anxiety or delusions. They assume they perceive the world accurately and others share their viewpoint. If someone tells them otherwise, they claim the person doesn’t “get it.” People who believe they’re incurable or don’t have a disorder are much less likely to seek treatment.
Long-term untreated mental illnesses can be dangerous. The individual could lose relationships with friends, relatives and romantic partners, making them feel isolated. Losing jobs and hobbies could worsen their mental disorder. Eventually, they might experience suicidal thoughts and the desire to self-harm.
People who suspect they have mental disorders should seek treatment as soon as possible. The longer they wait, the harder it can be to change their thinking patterns. Many patients also need a long-term medication regimen to alter their brain chemistry.
Do Mental Disorders Require Lifelong Treatment?
Some mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, PTSD and bipolar disorder, could require lifelong treatment to manage. Long-term treatment could improve daily functioning, stabilize the patient’s mood, promote positive thinking and help the individual work, maintain relationships and engage in hobbies. These disorders often require a combination of therapies, such as neurotherapy and medical care.
Other disorders, such as anxiety and depression, could improve as the patient gets older. However, some individuals require lifelong treatment to manage their condition. Their age, experiences, brain chemistry, current situation and thought patterns can influence their progress. Some patients experience relapses, but they find them increasingly easier to manage.
Reach Out for Help Today
You don’t need a diagnosis to seek mental help. In fact, reaching out as soon as possible could increase your chances of recovery. Talk to our professionals if you suspect you have an undiagnosed mental disorder so you can assess the situation and figure out a treatment plan. Restore also helps people with diagnosed mental disorders who need treatment, such as medical care, neurotherapy and aftercare.
We treat several conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction and personality disorders, and provide dual diagnosis services. Call Restore to speak with a professional. Our counselors are available 24/7, so you don’t have to wait long for help.