The iconic 20th-century psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, once said, “Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself – be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter.” This is perhaps how we should look at the reality of chronic mental illness in the 21st Century in the United States. It is something that can no longer be ignored.
One might argue that there is a mental health crisis currently going on in the U.S. – a crisis that has only gotten worse since the outbreak of COVID-19, and one that continues to seemingly get worse as more mental health statistics are coming out post-pandemic. This is why we here at The Phoenix Recovery Center continue to make it our mission to help people recover from chronic mental health and addiction issues.
What is a Chronic Mental Illness Mean?
A chronic mental illness is a long-term psychiatric condition that brings persistent and significant disruptions in thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that impact an individual’s daily functioning and overall well-being. The reality is that many mental illnesses are a chronic disease. Just like other chronic health diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, mental health disorders are going to negatively progress unless they are interrupted by proper professional mental health care.
If there are any doubts about the mental health crisis that is currently going on, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has reported some “Fast Facts” on the subject. According to NAMI, “1 in 5 adults” in the U.S. experience mental illness every year. In addition, “1 in 20” of those adults experience serious mental illness. Furthermore, regarding youth aged 6-17, “1 in 6” of them experience mental illness each year.
These are staggering statistics. They also show the chronic nature of mental illness as many youths carry their mental health issues with them into adulthood. However, they also strengthen our resolve here at the Phoenix Recovery Center to continue our mission of long-term recovery.
What Are the Stages of a Chronic Mental Illness?
To best understand the chronic nature of mental illness, it is important to also understand that mental illness also exists in stages. There are four stages of mental illness. Now, these are broadly agreed upon in the mental health community, though there are some outliers that break up some of the stages into additional parts.
The four stages of chronic mental illness include the warning sign stage, the visible symptomatic stage, the disruptive symptom stage, and the severe symptom stage. These stages represent the chronic progression of mental illness.
#1. The Warning Sign Stage
This is the stage of mental illness when a disorder begins to manifest. It is also where both the individual and close loved ones may start to notice some slight symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- An unexplained decline at work, or in school
- Trouble concentrating
- Experiencing disruptions to healthy sleep patterns, including sleeping too little or sleeping too much
- Wanting to isolate or “hide” from loved ones
#2. The Visible Symptomatic Stage
This is the stage when the chronic nature of the mental health disorder starts to become more visible. The symptoms of mental illness become more pronounced and an individual and their loved ones might start to recognize the need for professional help. Some of the broader symptoms of this stage include:
- Heightened emotions, including anxiety and depression
- Experiencing extreme mood swings
- Pronounced disruptions at work or school, which have begun to manifest into consequences
- Wanting to self-medicate with substances to cope with the heightened emotions and feelings
#3. The Disruptive Symptom Stage
This is the stage when more serious symptoms begin to affect an individual and “disrupt” their ability to function “normally” in their everyday lives. Also, this is when a mental illness becomes more diagnosable because the symptoms are more apparent.
At this point, the symptoms of mental illness also begin to become more specific to the diagnosed disorder. For example, a person with bipolar I disorder may begin to have full manic episodes or a person with schizophrenia may begin to experience hallucinations and delusions.
#4. The Severe Symptom Stage
At this stage, the chronic nature of a mental illness has essentially hit its peak, and it is critical to get professional care if it hasn’t been acquired yet. Intervening at this stage can still stop many short-term side effects from becoming long-term. Now, the sad truth is that this is also the most common stage for self-harm, harm toward others, and suicide, further exemplifying the importance of getting care.
Treating Chronic Mental Illness With the Phoenix Recovery Center
Here at the Phoenix Recovery Center, we understand the chronic nature of mental illness. This is why we have made it our mission to intervene as soon as possible before serious side effects can take hold.
However, it also does not matter what stage of mental illness a person is experiencing, we are here to help, and we know we can help. It is never too late to reach out, and it is never too late to recover. We have helped countless clients do it, and we aim to help countless more.
For more information about the chronic nature of mental illness and how mental health disorders can best be treated, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.