Types of Mental Illness, Diagnosis, Treatment in San Diego

Mental health refers to your emotional and psychological well-being and encompasses your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and how you react and process them. Your mental health affects your actions and how you treat yourself and others. Your mental health can also have an impact on your physical health. For example, when an individual neglects their mental health or is struggling with anxiety or depression, they most likely are neglecting their physical health by not taking care of their body by not eating, exercising, or sleeping the way they should. 

Mental health vs. mental illness

Mental health is an all-encompassing term that incorporates your emotions, thoughts, and actions related to your emotional and psychological well-being. Mental illness is a specific diagnosable disorder that affects how you think, feel and interact with others. The signs and symptoms of any mental illness must interfere with multiple aspects of your daily life. Mental illness, now called mental health disorders, include a wide array of disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Mental health disorders are best treated with psychotherapy or a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Depending on the severity of the mental health disorder, individuals can seek treatment at an outpatient mental health facility in San Diego. Mental health treatment in San Diego provides a wide array of treatment approaches that are tailored to the individual and their specific signs and symptoms. Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, mental health treatment in San Diego can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage your signs and symptoms. 

Common mental health disorders

Depression: A common mood disorder characterized by low self-esteem and despair for at least two weeks in duration. Depression is not necessarily related to a tragic or stressful event, and therefore depression does not have to be related to an underlying trigger. Signs and symptoms associated with depression include the following: feelings of sadness, sleep disturbance, loss of interest in activities, feelings of guilt, loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, psychomotor agitation, sadness, and even suicidal ideation.

Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is generally misunderstood as a disorder of quickly changing moods that cycle from deep sadness (depression) to extraordinary elation (mania). However, bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of mania and depression over long periods. Individuals with bipolar disorder will experience depression marked with an episode of mania or hypomania( less extreme than mania). However, individuals can go months or even years without having a manic or hypomanic episode. Signs and symptoms of mania include racing thoughts, irrational behaviors, increase in energy, agitation, overspending, engaging in reckless behavior, using alcohol and drugs as a way to cope, and experiencing heightened and uncontrollable emotions. 

Anxiety disorders: Experiencing occasional feelings of nervousness, worry, or fear is normal, especially when they arise in response to stressful, unfamiliar, or challenging situations. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder and are characterized by extreme worry out of proportion to the trigger. For example, individuals may experience extreme stress and worry about being late to a meeting, seeing a snake at the zoo, being struck by lightning, or being involved in a motor vehicle collision. Common signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder include the following: Feeling tense, irritable or on-edge, racing or worried thoughts, trouble focusing or concentrating, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, restlessness, and trouble sitting still, avoidance of feared situations, sweating, shaking or other unusual sensations in the body, feeling disconnected, “zoned out” or dissociated and panic attacks which can include extreme fear, racing heart, or trouble breathing.

Other common mental health disorders that can be treated at an outpatient mental health facility in San Diego include: 

  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Mental Health Treatment in San Diego

  • Exposure and Response Prevention (or ERP) involves exposing oneself to triggering thoughts and situations while learning to cope without unhealthy thoughts or behaviors. Individuals with a mental health disorder may be taught to sit with upsetting and triggering thoughts and images without acting out in unacceptable manners.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT) is another effective form of therapy for mental health disorders that involves learning to rethink unhealthy and upsetting thoughts into more positive or realistic thoughts and respond differently when these unhealthy thoughts arise. Individuals may also be taught other coping methods with anxiety and difficult thoughts, like coming up with other activities they can focus on when these unwanted thoughts come up.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (or ACT) is another form of therapy that involves learning how to sit with difficult thoughts and feelings by using mindfulness and acceptance skills without acting on these thoughts. Individuals who receive ACT also learn how to use these skills to distance their unhealthy thoughts and feelings. 

Some of the most commonly used medications for individuals struggling with mental health disorders include: 

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are most often used to treat depression, and anxiety but can also help reduce symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. 
  • Antipsychotic medications can help reduce intrusive, repetitive thoughts and obsessions in individuals with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and individuals with OCD.
  • Benzodiazepines are sometimes prescribed to people with severe anxiety, but these medications can also be addictive and are not recommended for regular or long-term use. 

AKUA Mind and Body

AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service treatment center that provides residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and virtual treatment. AKUA Mind and Body provides compassionate, evidence-based treatment to all individuals struggling with a mental health disorder, substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder, or a co-occurring disorder. We combine evidence-based medications and psychotherapy approaches with holistic treatments such as meditation, yoga, and equine therapy, as we want to treat the mind, body, and spirit.

Our clinical staff and ancillary treatment teams take great pride in the care that we provide to our clients and their families. From intake to discharge, we believe in treating the client as an individual and not just treating the disorder. As a result, we provide individualized treatment plans for every client. We offer our treatment services across many locations in California, including Orange County, Newport Beach, San Diego, and Sacramento. 

Author

  • Kristen, is a clinical content writer and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of mental health and addiction medicine. She is a family medicine physician and author, who also teaches and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies within educating the public on preventable diseases including mental health disorders and the stigma associated with them. She is also an outdoor activist and dog enthusiast.

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