Common with Mental Illness

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Certain thoughts, behaviors, symptoms, and conditions are directly related to mental illness. We often don’t examine how we might excessively use alcohol, for example, to calm our anxious minds after a long day. Or how a loved one’s refusal to enter therapy might not just be personal preference.

The other components of mental illness listed below are important to consider when looking holistically at your, or another’s mental health. Knowing these different factors — and how they can contribute to making a mental health condition more severe — can help shape treatment plans. Please note that this list does not, and could never, include everything that connects to mental illness. But we will do our best to continue adding more information.


Anosognosia is when someone is unaware of their own mental illness or when they can’t perceive their symptoms accurately.


Autism is a complex developmental disorder that can cause problems with thinking, feeling, language, and the ability to relate to others. Many individuals with autism also live with mental illnesses like anxiety or depression.

Risk of Suicide

Suicidal thoughts often accompany mental illness. Not taking these kinds of thoughts seriously can have devastating outcomes. Suicide can be prevented.


Self-harm is usually a sign that a person is having a tough time coping with their emotions. It’s frequently “used” as a coping mechanism for unmanageable mental illness symptoms.

Sleep Disorders

Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions are often accompanied by sleep disorders that should also be addressed in treatment.


Living with a mental illness can be difficult, and some people may turn to smoking as a way to cope with symptoms or handle stressful life events.

Substance Use Disorders

Substance use disorders — the repeated misuse of alcohol and/or drugs — often occur simultaneously in individuals with mental illness, usually to cope with overwhelming symptoms.

To learn more, head over to NAMI National’s page on other components of mental illness.

For information on NAMI Seattle’s support groups, click here.

For information on mental health resources in Seattle, click here.

For information on NAMI Seattle’s education programs, click here.