In a recent TED talk, Thomas Insel, MD, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, talks about diseases and challenges us to rethink how we label mental illness.
He notes that we have made magnificent progress in creating more positive outcomes for serious diseases such as leukemia, heart disease, AIDS, and strokes.
However, with mental illness, we wait until the behavior exhibits itself and then treat the illness. For example, with schizophrenia, one can see the brain changes in advance of behavioral symptoms often by several years.
Dr. Insel contends that using terms such as “behavioral disorders” and “disorders of the mind” actually hinders progress. We need to start rethinking these as brain disorders and turn the focus to early detection and early intervention.
If we could address the physiological brain disease at its onset, we would prevent the the behavior symptoms from ever exhibiting, eliminating “mental illness” as we know it.
If we waited until a person had a heart attack before addressing heart disease, 1.1 million more people would die each year.
You can watch his TED Talk here – we welcome your comments!