Medical IDs for Mental Illness
The confidence to live with mental illness
A large number of U.S. adults report having regular feelings of nervousness, worry, or anxiety. However, this alone is not mental illness. A person living with mental illness will experience far more severe symptoms, including extreme changes in emotion, behavior, and/or thinking. These changes can have a negative effect on relationships, they can impair functioning at work, and they can make social interactions difficult to unbearable. In many cases, mental illness can affect judgment and even decision-making.
This is just one reason why it’s important for people living with mental illness to wear a MedicAlert medical ID.
How MedicAlert protects those living with mental illness
One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what could happen if there’s an emergency. MedicAlert’s protection plans offer benefits that extend beyond the ID, providing safety and peace of mind for people living with mental illness, their families and caregivers.
24/7 Emergency Response
Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.
Digital Health Profile
All your vital information, all in one place for you and your caregiver.
Emergency Contact Notification
In an emergency, we connect families so that no one is alone in a crisis.
Share the information that’s important to your care, such as use of rescue medications or contraindication for tests like MRIs.
Pair a medical ID for mental illness with the protection plan that’s right for you.
What exactly is mental illness?
Mental illness isn’t just one condition. It’s a collection of conditions that affect nearly one in five adults in the U.S. This means, 52.9 million Americans are living with mental conditions ranging from depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that two broad categories can be used to describe mental illness: Any Mental Illness (AMI) and Serious Mental Illness (SMI). AMI includes all recognized mental illnesses.
SMI is a smaller and more severe subgroup of AMI and includes conditions such as schizophrenia (psychosis/detachment from reality) and schizoaffective disorder (combination of psychosis and mood disorders). Schizophrenia affects less than 1% of the U.S. population and schizoaffective disorder affects 0.3%. Because these SMI’s are rarer than other types of mental illnesses, making sure your loved one is wearing a MedicAlert medical ID is crucial to ensuring their safety and ability to thrive.
The major types of mental illness include:
Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder (panic attacks), OCD, phobia-related disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder.
Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression), which causes unusual shifts in mood, concentration, activity levels, energy, and the ability to handle day-to-day tasks.
Dementia, an umbrella term for memory loss or other thinking abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia includes Alzheimer’s, which accounts for 60-80% of cases.
Depression, including common types such as persistent depressive disorder (depression that lasts two years or longer), seasonal affective disorder (SAD, typically happens during the winter months), and psychotic depression (characterized by hallucinations, paranoia, delusions).
Depending on the type of condition, mental illness can be mild, moderate or severe. For example, in some cases, a person living with anxiety disorder may have the ability to control their symptoms. In these mild cases, symptoms are not debilitating, so they do not control the person’s life. On the other hand, bipolar disorder can cause manic episodes lasting several days. These episodes can be so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care.
What causes mental illness?
Mental illness typically arises from a complex interaction of one of more underlying causes, including genetics (mental illness often runs in the family), brain chemistry (imbalance of natural chemicals in the brain and body), childhood trauma or stressful events such as a car accident or loss of a loved one), environment (living under extremely stressful conditions), or prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol. Adults who abuse drugs or alcohol are also at risk of developing mental illness.
What are the symptoms and complications of mental illness?
Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary greatly depending on the specific condition. Some symptoms affect thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, leading to confusion, withdrawal, or impulsive anger outbursts, while others can be physical. Examples include headache, and body aches and pains such as back pain and stomach pain. In many cases, symptoms that are non-physical can be difficult to detect, just as the underlying health issue can often be invisible to the naked eye.
Common symptoms of mental illness include:
- Antisocial behavior (behavior that deviates sharply from the social norm)
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Delusions, paranoia, or hallucinations
- Excessive anger, hostility, or violence
- Excessive fears or worries
- Extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood swings (highs and lows)
- Feeling sad or down
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Major changes in eating habits
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Sex drive changes
- Fatigue (significant tiredness and low energy)
- Problems sleeping and other sleep disturbances
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Suicidal thoughts
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
These symptoms can lead to complications such as social isolation, family conflicts, diminished enjoyment of life, financial problems, relationship difficulty, problems at work and school, weakened immune system, heart disease, missed work and school, poverty, and homelessness.
What to engrave on MedicAlert medical IDs for mental illness:
MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our mental illness bracelets and medical ID products. Engravings on medical IDs for mental illness should include any critical medical information that can protect and save lives in an accident or medical emergency, for example:
- Type of mental illness
- Emergency contact information
- Current medications
Sample engraving. Consult our team if you need help engraving your medical ID for mental illness.
How do you diagnose mental illness?
To determine if a person has mental illness, a specialist such as a psychiatrist will assess your medical history, perform a physical exam to rule out other conditions, and administer lab tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) to check for medical conditions that could cause symptoms.
One of the most important diagnostic tools specialists use is the psychological evaluation. During the evaluation you will fill out a questionnaire and your specialist will talk to you about your thoughts, feelings, symptoms, and behaviors. Once your specialist has a diagnosis, treatment can begin.
How do you treat, manage, and live with mental illness?
Treatment plans for mental illness vary significantly depending on the specific underlying disorder. However, thanks to extraordinary advances in the treatment of mental illness, many mental disorders can be treated as successfully as physical disorders. For most major mental health disorders, both drugs and psychotherapy, including individual, group, and family therapy, are often administered together to ensure the highest level of effectiveness.
The most widely used drugs for the treatment of mental illness are a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Common brand names include Zoloft (sertraline), Lexapro (escitalopram), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), and Celexa (citalopram).
Other possible treatments for mental illness include hypnotherapy (hypnosis), therapies that stimulate the brain such as electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), and behavior therapy techniques such as relaxation training or exposure therapy to help confront fears.
Specialists may also suggest seeking social support from counselors, social workers, and clergy, and educating caregivers, family, and friends about mental illnesses, causes, and coping techniques.
How medical IDs for mental illness combined with MedicAlert Membership provide peace of mind
- We’re your voice: If you can’t speak for yourself due to a medical emergency, your ID will speak for you – informing others about your mental illness and any medications you’re taking.
- 24/7 emergency protection: In an emergency, the MedicAlert team will relay all of your critical medical information to first responders, no matter where or when your emergency happens.
- Always connected: You should never be alone in an emergency. That’s why MedicAlert will reach out to your designated contacts if you are unable to do so.
- Live with peace of mind and confidence: MedicAlert will be there for you every step of the way. You’ll have the confidence and freedom to live your life with mental illness, knowing we’ve got you covered.
Sources: Alzheimer’s Association; Australia State Government of Victoria Department of Health; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Cleveland Clinic; Mayo Clinic; Mental Health Foundation; Merck Manual; National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); National Institute of Mental Health; National Library of Medicine; World Health Organization