Difference Between Mental Illness and Mental Retardation

Mental Illness vs Mental Retardation
 

Mental illness and mental retardation refer to two different concepts with marked differences between them. Therefore, mental illness and mental retardation should not be used interchangeably. First, let us define the two terms. Mental illness can be understood as a mental health condition that disrupts the behavior, thoughts, and emotions of an individual. In abnormal psychology, attention is being paid to a wide range of mental illness. Some examples of mental illnesses are depression, Bipolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, etc. Mental Retardation is quite different from mental illness. It can be understood as a condition where the individual has a lower IQ and have difficulty in coping with the realities of day to day life. These are usually diagnosed at a tender age, unlike in the case of most mental illnesses. Through this article let us examine the differences between mental illness and mental retardation.

What is Mental Illness?

As mentioned above, a mental illness can be defined as a psychological condition that affects the thoughts, behavior, and emotions of an individual. It usually creates a tension in the individual making him unable to function as usual. Such a person can be under a lot of stress and have difficulty in functioning as an ordinary person. This illness will bring about changes in both his personal and professional life.

Some of the common mental illnesses are depression, anxiety, personality disorders such as multiple personality disorder and other mental illnesses such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, panic disorders, phobias, etc.

However, most mental illnesses can be treated through the usage of psychotherapy and medication. Psychologists believe that mental illnesses mostly emerge in adulthood rather than in childhood. However, traumatic events and certain situations can trigger mental illnesses in children as well. For instance, a child who undergoes a traumatic event can be diagnosed with depression.

Mental illnesses can be caused due to various factors. They are genetic factors in which case the individual inherits different traits that trigger the illness, environmental factors, and chemical imbalances in the brain. However, mental retardation is quite different to mental illness.

Difference Between Mental Illness and Mental Retardation

What is Mental Retardation?

Mental retardation is a condition where the individual has a lower IQ and has difficulty in coping with the realities of day to day life. This is also known as an intellectual disability in the health sector. In such a situation, the brain of the child is not developed up to the normal range, making it difficult for the child to function. When speaking of mental retardation there are four levels. They are,

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe
  • Unspecified

A person who is mentally retarded can have difficulties in learning and speaking. He can also have disabilities in physical and social activities as well. Mostly these can be diagnosed during childhood itself.

Mental retardation can be caused due to malnutrition, childhood sicknesses, trauma before or during birth, and genetic abnormalities. Mental retardation can be treated with counseling and special education, which allows the individual to cope with day to day activities. This highlights that mental illness and retardation should not be considered as the same.

 Mental Illness vs Mental Retardation

What is the difference between Mental Illness and Mental Retardation?

• Definitions of Mental Illness and Mental Retardation:

• Mental illness can be defined as a psychological condition that affects the thoughts, behavior, and emotions of an individual.

• Mental retardation is a condition where the individual has a lower IQ and has difficulty in coping with the realities of day to day life.

• Age Group:

• Mental illness is mostly diagnosed in adults.

• Mental retardation is diagnosed in childhood itself.

• IQ:

• Mental illness does not involve a lower IQ.

• Mental retardation involves a lower IQ.

• Effects:

• Mental illness affects the behavior, thoughts, and emotions.

• Mental retardation affects the cognition and intellect of the person.

• Learning Difficulty:

• Those who suffer from mental retardation have difficulty in learning and shows development difficulties as well, but these cannot be seen in the case of mental illness.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Anguish by Porsche Brosseau (CC BY 2.0)
  2. Facial features of ATR-X syndrome by Filip em (CC BY 2.0)