Sometimes Mental Illness… Isn’t

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Why it’s important for all of us to make it easy and safe for people to get help for mental health issues

I learned something this week that drove home both the importance of seeking treatment for mental health symptoms, AND the importance of maintaining hope for better treatment in the future. Most of the time, symptoms of mental illness are just that, but occasionally they may have surprising physical causes.

According to my mother’s physician, low levels of B12 can cause symptoms that mimic mental illness, and if untreated can cause dementia. (Not my mom’s issue, but this doc tests all of her older patients!) (Not that I’m saying my mom is elderly. Hi, Mom!)

The doctor believes that tragically, in past years, many elderly people in mental institutions were actually suffering from B12 deficiency. Today, it’s a simple blood test to confirm it, and injections to treat.

This same week I saw this article about another treatable physical ailment that also masquerades as mental illness:

We MUST encourage people with mental health issues to get good medical treatment. There is amazing research into the physical illnesses of the brain happening right now. Because mental illness IS physical illness!!!

Who knows what other unexpected and treatable conditions we’ll discover in the future? Get help, and have hope. That’s the word for today. (And yes, my mama will be getting regular B12 injections from this day forward!)