MAJOR MENTAL ILLNESS
Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. with 19.1 million (13.3%) of the adult U.S. population (ages 18-54) affected. These disorders fill people’s lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event such as a business presentation or a first date, anxiety disorders are chronic, relentless, and can grow progressively worse if not treated.
The combined prevalence of the group of anxiety disorders is higher than that of all other mental disorders in childhood and adolescence. Anxiety disorder leaves you unable to cope with daily life due to abnormal fears of life. Anxiety in moderation is a perfectly normal response – it is a healthy response preparing you for any action that may even be threatening. Anxiety disorders cause overwhelming fear and an inability to cope with any daily chore. Anxiety disorders can completely paralyze and disable the victim.
Anxiety disorder is the most treatable of all mental illnesses. Anxiety disorder produces unrealistic fears, excessive worry, flashbacks from past trauma leading to easy startling, changes in sleep patterns, intense tension and ritualistic behavior. Anxiety disorder also results in a slew of related physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating, racing heart, dizziness, nausea, vomiting etc.
A wide range of effective therapies and treatments of anxiety disorder are available. Usually anxiety disorder requires medication and cognitive-behavioral therapies in combination.
Most patients of anxiety disorder respond well to treatment and there is a high success rate of treating anxiety disorder resulting in the return to productive and fulfilling daily lives. Unfortunately, most victims of anxiety disorder do not seek treatment.
Bipolar disorder affects more than 2 million American adults, or about 1 percent of the population age 18 and older. It often begins in adolescence or early adulthood and may persist for life.
Its causes are elusive, and there’s no cure. But it can be managed. Left untreated, the condition usually worsens. The flares of bipolar disorder may last for weeks or months, causing great disturbances in the lives of those affected, their friends and their families.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by an alternating pattern of emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression). The intensity of the signs and symptoms varies. Bipolar disorder can range from a mild condition to a severe condition.
For many people, the manic signs and symptoms include:
Feelings of euphoria, extreme optimism and inflated self-esteem
Rapid speech, racing thoughts, agitation and increased physical activity
Poor judgment and recklessness
Tendency to be easily distracted
Inability to concentrate
In the depression phase, signs and symptoms include:
Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt or hopelessness
Disturbances in sleep and appetite
Fatigue and loss of interest in your daily activities
Difficulty in concentrating
Recurring thoughts of suicide
Medication and psychotherapy are the main treatments. Most people with bipolar disorder take medication to regulate their moods. Psychotherapy helps provide strategies for managing stress and coping with uncertainties.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of chronic disorders that begin in childhood and sometimes last into adult life. It affects 3 to 5 percent of all children, perhaps as many as 2 million American children. Two to three times more boys than girls are affected.
In general, children and adults with ADHD have a hard time paying attention and concentrating (inattention), sitting still (hyperactivity) and controlling impulsive behavior (impulsivity). These problems can affect nearly every aspect of life.
Children and adults with ADHD often struggle with low self-esteem, troubled personal relationships and poor performance in school or at work.
The signs and symptoms of ADHD include the following:
Often fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities
Often has trouble sustaining attention during tasks or play
Often doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to directly
Often doesn’t follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks
Often has difficulty organizing tasks or activities
Often avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework
Often loses things needed for tasks or activities, such as books, pencils, toys or tools
Is often easily distracted
Is often forgetful
Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
Often leaves seat in the classroom or in other situations where remaining seated is expected.
Often runs or climbs excessively when it’s not appropriate. Adolescents might not run or climb but may constantly feel restless.
Often has difficulty playing quietly.
Is often “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor.”
Often talks excessively.
Often blurts out the answers before questions have been completely asked.
Often has difficulty waiting his or her turn.
Often interrupts or intrudes on others by butting into conversations or games.
Optimal treatment for ADHD is a matter of intense debate. Current treatments typically involve therapy, medication or both.
Children and adults with ADHD often greatly benefit from counseling or behavior therapy, which may be provided by a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or other mental health care professional.
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disease. Approximately 1 percent of the population develops schizophrenia during their lifetime – more than 2 million Americans suffer from the illness in a given year.
Although schizophrenia affects men and women with equal frequency, the disorder often appears earlier in men, usually in the late teens or early twenties, than in women, who are generally affected in the twenties to early thirties.
People with schizophrenia often suffer terrifying symptoms such as hearing internal voices not heard by others, or believing that other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. These symptoms may leave them fearful and withdrawn.
Schizophrenia has “negative” signs and “positive” signs.
Negative signs may appear early in the disease, and you or others may not think they need treatment. Negative signs generally accompany a slow deterioration of function, leading to your becoming less sociable.
Such signs may include dulled emotions (lack of expression), inappropriate emotions (laughing while expressing terrifying images) and a change in your speech (speaking in a dull monotone).
Positive signs often include hallucinations and delusions.
Hallucinations. Hallucinations occur when you sense things that don’t exist. The most common hallucination in schizophrenia is hearing voices. You may carry on a conversation with voices that no one else can hear. Or you may perceive that voices are providing you instructions on what to do. Hallucinations may result in injuries to other people.
Delusions. Delusions are firmly held personal beliefs that have no basis in reality. The most common subtype of schizophrenia is paranoid schizophrenia, in which you hold irrational beliefs that others are persecuting you or conspiring against you. For example, some people with schizophrenia may believe that the television is directing their behavior or that Martians are controlling their thoughts.
Available treatments can relieve many symptoms, but most people with schizophrenia continue to suffer some symptoms throughout their lives; it has been estimated that no more than one in five individuals recovers completely