Understanding Behavioral Health Disorders

Behavioral health disorders are some of the most difficult mental illnesses to understand. They affect different people in different ways and can be hard for even those who work with them every day to identify. There is no one-size-fits-all explanation for these illnesses, but we will try our best to provide an overview so that you can better recognize if someone has a behavioral health disorder or not.  Here’s our guide to understanding behavioral health disorders.

Behavioral Health Disorders: What Are They?

Behavioral health disorders affect the way a person interacts with their environment and themselves. Many people suffer from these illnesses, but they are not always easy to recognize or treat because each one affects different individuals in unique ways.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) divides mental illness into five categories: serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; mild to moderate mental illness, such as depression or anxiety disorders; substance use disorders, including addiction to drugs or alcohol; intellectual disabilities that interfere with a person’s ability to complete daily tasks independently such as autism or a developmental disability; and neurocognitive disorders, such as early symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Behavioral health disorders are often diagnosed in conjunction with other mental illnesses because they can affect how mentally ill people interact with themselves and their environment. They may cause individuals to behave erratically, harming themselves or others around them without realizing it until it is too late.

How Do I Know if Someone Has a Behavioral Health Disorder?

There are countless mental illnesses that fall under the category of behavioral health disorders, but major ones include schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. While some symptoms may be more obvious than others, there are warning signs you can look for in order to determine if someone is suffering from a mental illness or behavioral health disorder.

Excessive sleeping or lack of sleep

The physical toll that behavioral health disorders have on the body immediately impacts how much rest the body needs. For this reason, it’s no secret that one of the most common impacts of mental illness is inconsistency in sleep patterns. The person may seem extremely tired all of the time, sleeping for extended periods during the day and night with increased difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Lack of hygiene

The individual may not shower or bathe as frequently as they usually would, wearing dirty clothes that are wrinkled and disheveled instead of clothes that are clean and pressed. They may seem to be uninterested in themselves or what they’re wearing, even if it is something simple like makeup, nail polish or their favorite article of clothing.

Loss of appetite or increased eating

Someone who has lost interest in food as a result of depression, for example, will not want to eat. They may not feel hungry or will only crave specific foods that are high in sugar, fat, or carbohydrates.

On the other end of the spectrum is someone who eats too much when they’re dealing with anxiety and stress. This person has an increased appetite for food and struggles to maintain a healthy weight.

Erratic and unusual behavior

This can include things like mood swings, aggression or hostility toward others without apparent reason, paranoia, panic attacks that are difficult to control (sometimes even with medication).

It can also include small behaviors, like constant rocking back and forth in a chair, holding items in their hands so tightly that the knuckles turn white or pacing back and forth for no apparent reason.

Increased isolation from friends and family

The person may not want to leave their home for extended periods of time because they feel ill at ease in public settings. They don’t seem comfortable being around other people or in social situations.

When to consider professional help

When someone is suffering from a mental illness, it’s not always easy to determine what the problem may be and when they should seek professional help for their symptoms. The symptoms of most mental health disorders can typically be managed by therapies and/or medications, but will usually worsen over time without treatment. When someone lives with a mental illness, it can have a significant impact on other aspects of their life, which is why it’s important to seek help sooner rather than later.

The facilities at Bowling Green Brandywine offer an array of treatment options for each type of behavioral disorder with varying intensities. They can also employ a wide range of therapies that can be tailored to each individual for maximum effectiveness.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. There is an array of treatment options for each type of behavioral disorder, which can be tailored to each individual for maximum effectiveness. If this is something that is impacting your life, don’t hesitate to make the leap.


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The collective team of Parlé Magazine. Twitter: @parlemag

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