Mental Health Information

What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines. Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and "happen to someone else”. In fact mental disorders are common and widespread. An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a given year. With proper care and treatment many individuals learn to cope or recover from mental illness, addiction or emotional disorders.

Mental Illness overview:

  • Anxiety disorders:
  • People with anxiety disorders react to certain objects or situations with fear and dread. They have physical signs of anxiety or nervousness, such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating. An anxiety disorder is diagnosed if the person's response is inappropriate for the situation, if the person cannot control the response, or if the anxiety interferes with normal functioning. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.

  • Mood disorders:
    Mood disorders, also called affective disorders, involve persistent feelings of sadness or times of feeling overly happy, or fluctuations from extreme happiness to extreme sadness. The most common mood disorders are depression, mania, and bipolar disorder.
  • Psychotic disorders:
    These disorders involve distorted awareness and thinking. The two symptoms most common of psychotic disorders are hallucinations which are the experience of seeing images or hearing sounds that are not real – like voices and delusions - which are false beliefs that the ill person, despite evidence to the contrary, believes as true. An example of a psychotic disorder is schizophrenia.
  • Eating disorders:
    An eating disorders results when a person develops a distorted relationship with food. This relentless focus involves extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors involving weight and food. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the most common eating disorders.
  • Impulse control and addiction disorders:
    People with impulse control disorders are unable to resist urges, or impulses, to practice behaviors that could be harmful to themselves or others. Pyromania (starting fires), kleptomania (stealing), and compulsive gambling are examples of impulse control disorders. Alcohol and drugs are common targets of addictions. As the relationship with the addicting substance becomes more important these people can begin to ignore responsibilities and relationships.
  • Personality disorders:
    Personality disorders involve radical and inflexible personality traits that are distressing and/or cause problems in work, school, or social relationships. A person who suffers will exhibit patterns of thinking and behavior that distinctly differ from the expectations of society and are so rigid that they interfere with the person's normal functioning. Examples include antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder.

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