Mental illness (or mental disorder) is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood and productivity at various stages in his/her life. When people feel unwell, they get scared to get mental health assessment because they are afraid of the outcomes. Mental illness affects people of any race, age, religion or income. Many celebrities, writers, politicians and artists have had long histories of battling it. Here are some common types of mental illness along with their signs and symptoms.
Everyone suffers from mild forms of anxiety at a certain stage of their lives. However, severe forms of anxiety could have drastic negative effects and impair the person’s cognitive and social skills. Common anxiety disorders include: obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, phobias and social anxiety disorder. Each of these mental illnesses showcase a unique set of symptoms and key diagnostic elements. However, anxiety disorders in general are characterized by:
- Increased heart beat.
- Inability to perform simple daily activities like shopping, cooking or reading.
- Difficulty in going outside the house.
- Low self-esteem.
- Feeling excessively distressed, frightened or uneasy during normal situations.
- Substance abuse (when condition is left undiagnosed for so long).
- Impaired relationships, studying and negative attitude at work.
There are four basic forms of mood disorders. These are: major depression (and the milder form dysthymia), bipolar disorder (and the milder form cyclothymia), seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and mania. People suffering from mood disorders describe feeling like they are “a completely different person” or having mood swings from being very happy to total misery in a short period of time.
Depression is a very common form of mental illness. Major depression goes well beyond temporarily feeling sad or blue for a few days or months. It is a lifelong condition that increases in severity and frequency overtime if left untreated. One of the recent tragic cases is Robin Williams, late American actor and world-renowned comedian. Williams suffered from major depression which consequently lead up to him committing suicide.
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness with recurring episodes of mania and depression. It could last up to months of intensity and oscillation. It is characterized mainly through the manifestation of its two major mood swings:
- Mania: Feelings of extreme irritability, euphoria, agitation, surges of energy and involvement in risky behavior.
- Depression: Feelings of sadness, worthlessness, very low energy and loss of hope.
They are a group of mental disorders characterized by abnormal thinking and perceptions. The two main symptoms are delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (false perceptions).
Schizophrenia is one of the major psychotic disorders that affects men and women equally but at different stages of their lives. A Schizophrenic becomes unable to: think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions or function properly.
Impulse Control Disorders
Impulse Control Disorders (ICD) are defined as (the failure to resist an impulsive act or impulsive behavior that is harmful to the self or to others). An impulsive behavior is uncontrollable, not premeditated or considered in advance.
There are six categories under this group of disorders:
- Intermittent Explosive Disorder.
- Pathological Gambling.
- Unspecified Disorders (Alcohol and Drug Addiction, Paraphilias, Oniomania, Repetitive Self-Mutilation).
Most of the time people discard eating disorders as an unimportant issue. In fact, they are one of the most challenging mental illnesses. They are mostly unreported and underdiagnosed which results in severe medical complications that can go as far as death. People with eating disorders are image-conscious individuals who constantly watch their weight, feel guilty about eating, have a distorted view of their bodies and indulge in detrimental feeding behaviors.
Medical treatment and psychoanalysis are only a minor step on the road to recovery from eating disorders. Family and friends comprise the main support behind the success of treatment.
Types of eating disorders include:
Personality is the set of behavioral and mental traits that distinguish humans from one another. A personality disorder is any behavioral or mental change that deviates from what a person’s society or culture consider normal. They impair how people think, feel or relate to other people. Personality disorders may co-exist with other mental illnesses such as depression or psychotic disorders.
Personality disorders are among the most difficult to treat because a person suffering from them views himself/herself as normal. The traits which may seem peculiar to surrounding “normal” human beings are bizarre to him/her. Personality disorders lead to maladaptive, dysfunctional behavior and withdrawal from society.
Among the most common personality disorders are:
- Antisocial Personality Disorder.
- Borderline Personality Disorder.
- Avoidant Personality Disorder.
- Dependent Personality Disorder.
- Histrionic Personality Disorder.
- Dissociative Identity Disorder.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
What is the Relationship between Substance Abuse and Mental Illness?
There is an ongoing relationship between substance abuse and mental illness. People who abuse drugs and alcohol are most likely to suffer from mental illness. Also mentally ill individuals sometimes resort to abusing drugs and alcoholism to avoid mental assessment and medical treatment. There are also detrimental effects of alcohol, marijuana, opiates, cocaine and other commonly-abused drugs on mental illness such as:
- Drugs and alcohol result in a worse prognosis for someone with mental illness.
- Drugs and alcohol can worsen underlying mental illnesses and their symptoms.
- Drugs and alcohol can cause addicts to experience symptoms of certain mental disorders (hallucinations, paranoia) for the first time.
- Substance abusers are less likely to adhere to their medication regimens.
- Substance abusers who suffer from mental illness are more likely to become physically aggressive and violent.
- Drugs and alcohol make people more likely to commit suicide.
- Mentally ill individuals who actively abuse drugs and alcohol are less likely to achieve lasting sobriety.