Sometimes it’s easy to distinguish between someone who has good mental health and someone who has a mental illness. However, often times the difference isn’t so obvious. A mental health provider will need to work with you and your loved ones to determine if you have a mental health condition.

The mental health provider will ask about your symptoms, when they began and how they’ve affected your life. For example, they might ask if you feel sad, hopeless or discouraged. If your feelings of sadness are due to something going on in your life your feelings could be a normal and a temporary reaction (i.e., divorce, loss of job, death of loved one, etc.). However, if your symptoms are severe or don’t go away, you could have a mood disorder such as Major Depressive Disorder. A mental health professional can work with you to determine the cause of the symptoms and make a plan to treat it. Also, you may want to see your doctor to rule out any physical health conditions that could be effecting your moods or behavior.

Mental health providers use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to diagnose everything from anorexia to substance use disorders and, if necessary, determine appropriate treatment. The guide explains the signs and symptoms of several hundred mental health conditions. Health insurance companies also use the DSM to determine coverage and benefits and to reimburse mental health providers. It is important that a licensed mental health provider works together with you to determine if a condition exists and what type of support or treatment will work best for you.

From Mental Health America