The National Institute of Mental Health reported that one in five American adults is diagnosed with a mental health disorder each year. Approximately 20.6% of adults in the U.S. had a mental health disorder in 2019. Survey results provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that in 2020 that number nearly doubled to just over 40% due to stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental health disorders fit into two categories: any mental illness (AMI) and serious mental illness (SMI). AMI covers the broadest range of conditions from mild mental illness to severe. SMI is focused more on those who have verifiable disabilities caused by their mental health diagnosis.
Mental health disorders exist along a spectrum. Often the most severe end of the spectrum is linked to alcohol and drug addiction. The federal classification for SMI requires the following criteria:
Mental health disorders can affect your behavior, thinking, and emotions in multiple ways. Rather than explain every mental health disorder on this page, we will focus on the mental health disorders most closely linked to substance use disorders (SUD). The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists the following as commonly encountered alongside SUD:
The relationship between SUD and mental health disorders is complicated due to the overlapping risk factors associated with them. Addiction can lead to mental health disorders, while mental illness is a high-risk factor for developing SUD. Unhealthy coping skills, insufficient life skills, a harmful environment, and lack of stability are known contributors to both conditions.
Additionally, SUD and mental illness each have a genetic component. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “40–60 percent of an individual’s vulnerability to substance use disorders is attributable to genetics.” Genetics can also increase the risk of being diagnosed with certain mental health disorders.
More research still needs to be done on the link between SUD and mental health; however, plenty of evidence suggests that they influence each other to a significant degree. You can lower the risks associated with developing mental illness by getting help treating your SUD. The therapies and treatments for SUD can protect against the development of AMI and SMI.
There are many possible symptoms due to the sheer number of mental health disorders associated with SUD. However, below are some areas that might indicate whether someone is experiencing a mental illness:
Medication and psychotherapy are the two primary treatments used for mental health disorders and SUD. When you are going through rehabilitation, prescription medications might counter developing or existing mental health issues like anxiety and depression, which are commonly experienced during recovery. Some of the medications that treat mental health disorders include the following:
Usually, doctors and therapists use prescription medications alongside psychotherapy. The effects often complement one another, enhancing the benefits. Therapies known to help reduce the impact of AMI, SMI, and SUD are listed below:
Holistic treatment methods, such as art therapy and other meaningful activities, can also enhance your treatment program during recovery.