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Mental Illness: What Can Make It Worse?

Mental illness, also known as mental health disorders, is a wide range of conditions that can impact your mood, behavior, and thoughts.    Although it is normal to feel distraught from time to time, people with mental health conditions display ongoing signs and symptoms that can trigger feelings of stress and discomfort, making it difficult to function. If you suffer from one of these conditions, you may find it hard to maintain relationships and concentrate at work or school.    In today’s blog, we will discuss different mental illnesses and triggers that can worsen them. 


We all experience anxiety to an extent because it’s our body’s natural response to certain situations. For instance, you may feel worried the day before a job interview or scheduling a dentist appointment. However, if you have an anxiety disorder, you may experience intense feelings of fear and danger that will not go away until the perceived threat is gone. Once you feel like you are not under a threat, your body will return to a relaxed state—until the cycle starts again Everyone with an anxiety disorder experiences different symptoms, but generally, they include:
  • Uncontrollable, racing thoughts
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Heightened alertness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dissociation


Everyone has good and bad days, but that does not mean everyone has depression. Depression is a long-lasting mood disorder that can impact your ability to experience pleasure from activities that once brought you joy. General symptoms of depression include:  
  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss of interest, to the point where you may not even get out of bed
  • Becoming easily fatigued by doing everyday tasks
  • Interrupted sleep and loss of appetite
  • Feeling guilty about past mistakes or worthless

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that can cause your mood to shift from an extreme high to an extreme low. If you suffer from this disorder, you may experience increased energy, excitement, impulsive behaviors, and agitation—sometimes, you will experience these feelings one after the other. Moreover, you may even deal with psychotic symptoms, which is when you see and hear things that feel real but do not exist; however, not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences this.    General symptoms of this disorder fall into two categories: mania and depression. 


  • Feeling elated, even if things are not going well for you
  • Jumping quickly from one idea to the next
  • Being highly irritable
  • Talking fast
  • Making spontaneous decisions without thinking them through


  • Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
  • Rapidly gaining or losing weight
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Feeling guilty and helpless
  • Thoughts of suicide


Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that alters the way someone thinks, and it affects 1 in 100 people. You may have this condition if you experience some of the following symptoms:  
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • No motivation
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Poor hygiene
  • Low sex drive

What Causes Mental Illness?

Inherited traits: Mental illnesses are most common in individuals whose blood relatives also have it. Certain genes can increase your risk of developing it, and life situations may trigger it.    Environmental exposure before birth: Fetuses exposed to environmental stressors, toxins, inflammatory conditions, drugs, or alcohol while in the womb may be susceptible to developing mental disorders.    Brain chemistry: Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to different parts of your brain and body. However, when the neural networks involving these chemicals are disrupted, the function of nerve receptors and systems change, leading to depression and other emotional conditions. 

5 Habits That Can Make Mental Illness Worse

Since there are various types of mental illnesses, there is no one particular habit that can aggravate a certain condition. A specific activity that can worsen your mental disorder may not affect someone else’s, and vice-versa. However, practicing the following five habits can significantly decrease your quality of life, regardless of the mental health condition you have. 
  • Being Inactive

When we talk about our mind and body, we separate the two, but they go hand in hand. Poor physical health can result in an increased risk of developing mental illnesses. Similarly, deteriorating mental health can have a negative impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of certain conditions. If you have a mental health condition, it is essential that you exercise so that your brain releases endorphins, the feel-good chemical. Even going on a 10-minute walk can increase your mental alertness, energy, and positive mood if you are sedentary.
  • Isolating Yourself

When life begins to feel overwhelming, you must reach out to your support system of trusted friends and family. When we talk about social support, we mean more than just a quick text message. Physically spending time with your loved ones can help you work through complex thoughts and feelings, making you feel less alone. If you cannot see your loved ones in person, you should agree on a time to video chat.
  • Ruminating Thoughts

Although every mental disorder is different, at the core of almost all of them is rumination. If you have a mental health condition, you are more prone to dwelling on negative thoughts relating to rejection, loss, fear of the unknown, and other stressors. Overthinking difficult problems can exacerbate your disorder, and the best way to put an end to it is by seeking professional help.
  • Poor Eating Habits

Many people with mental illnesses reach for comfort foods when coping with difficult feelings. As mentioned above, some mental illnesses cause people to gain or lose a significant amount of weight. Suppose you notice that you are indulging in too much junk food. In that case, we recommend tracking your eating habits by journaling your appetite, food choices, and emotional responses to get a baseline of your eating habits. It may be helpful to ask a trusted family member or friend to help you with your journal because they can hold you accountable for your eating choices, and it can help prevent the onset of an eating disorder.
  • Using Illicit Substances to Cope

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is a definite relationship between mental disorders and addictive substances. Unfortunately, some people believe they can self-medicate by using alcohol and drugs. Some examples include:
  • Using marijuana to numb away pain
  • Drinking to feel more comfortable in social situations if you have social anxiety
  • Using cocaine or crystal meth to boost your energy and complete tasks
  • Using benzodiazepines to prevent panic attacks before they start

Treatment is Within Reach at Ardu Recovery Center

If you or a loved one struggles with a mental or substance abuse disorder, it is important to take action before these conditions worsen. Ardu Recovery Center offers a comprehensive approach to addiction and mental illness treatment involving both proven medical treatments and holistic techniques.  We are located in Provo, Utah. Reach out to us today with any questions you may have.