Mental health disorders are serious conditions that can greatly impact a person’s life. These conditions are characterized by significant disturbances in a person’s thinking, emotions, or behaviors. They can cause distress or impairment in important areas of a person’s life. There are many different types of mental disorders, each with its own unique symptoms and challenges. It’s important to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder.
Common Types of Mental Health Disorders
Mental health disorders are quite common. In fact, in a given year, nearly one in five US adults (19%) experience some form of mental health disorder. Serious mental health disorders affect one in 24 (4.1%), and one in 12 (8.5%) have a diagnosable substance use disorder. Common types of mental health disorders include:
Depressive disorder, generally referred to as depression, is a common mental health disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. Unlike regular mood changes, depression can impact all aspects of life, including relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, as well as school and work performance. Depression can occur in anyone, but it’s more prevalent in individuals who have experienced abuse, severe losses, or other highly stressful events. Women are more likely to be affected by depression than men, and over 10% of women who are pregnant or have recently given birth experience depression. It is estimated that over 280 million people in the world have depression.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is a condition that can cause chronic anxiety, excessive worry, and tension even when there is no clear trigger for these symptoms. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that about 6.8 million adults in the US (3.1%) are affected by this disorder. This condition impacts twice as many females as males and often co-occurs with major depression. Unfortunately, only 43.2% of those with GAD receive treatment.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health disorder that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event. PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror. These traumatic events usually involve situations where a person’s life has been threatened, or severe injury has occurred, such as combat, physical or sexual assault, a severe accident, or a natural disaster. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can impact anyone and is influenced by personal factors such as previous trauma, age, and gender. It can cause disruptions in a person’s life, work, and relationships, and symptoms can last for months or years, making it challenging to function normally. Fortunately, treatment options such as medication and counseling can help, even years after the traumatic event.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that can lead to drastic mood swings, from manic highs to depressive lows. These mood shifts can last for varying periods of time and can interfere with daily tasks. It is a lifelong mental health disorder that causes significant changes in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior. Though manic episodes are the most common sign of the disorder, depressive episodes can also be a primary symptom. However, individuals with bipolar disorder can also experience periods of normal mood, referred to as euthymia. This condition affects millions of adults in the US. It is often diagnosed during late adolescence or early adulthood, but symptoms can appear at any age, including in children. A family history of bipolar disorder, traumatic events, or drug or alcohol misuse can increase the risk of developing the condition. Differences in brain structure and function may also play a role. As the symptoms can be long-lasting and change over time, bipolar disorder usually requires lifelong treatment. Fortunately, the condition can be managed with medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and other treatments.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a challenging condition that can significantly interfere with a person’s daily life. It involves having uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions). These behaviors can make it hard for someone to interact with others and complete daily tasks. Although symptoms can come and go over time, OCD is often a lifelong (chronic) condition. It typically develops during the teenage years or early adulthood, with boys often experiencing symptoms at a younger age than girls. Treatment for OCD usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. It’s essential to diagnose and treat OCD as soon as possible for the best outcome.
Schizophrenia is a serious disorder that generally involves delusions, hallucinations, unusual physical behavior, and disorganized thinking and speech. Many people with schizophrenia experience paranoid thoughts or hear voices. These psychotic episodes can be confusing, frightening, and isolating. While the exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown, genetic makeup and brain chemistry likely play a role. Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed between the ages of 16 and 30, after the first episode of psychosis. Schizophrenia can completely disrupt a person’s life, making it impossible to go to school or work, keep a schedule, socialize, or even complete daily tasks. Millions of Americans have schizophrenia. Unfortunately, many do not seek treatment for various reasons, such as not knowing they are sick or feeling ashamed. However, with consistent treatment that includes medication, therapy, and social support, people with schizophrenia can manage the disease and live fulfilling lives.
Mental health disorders are treatable, and with the right treatment plan, many people find relief from their symptoms. Treatment options such as psychotherapy, medication, and alternative therapies can help alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life. Having a mental health disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. Like heart disease or diabetes, a mental health disorder is a medical problem. Seeking treatment is a sign of strength, not weakness. Remember, recovery is possible.
Risk Factors for Developing Mental Health Disorder
It is widely believed that genetic and environmental factors can increase the likelihood of developing a mental health disorder. Some of these factors include:
- Inherited traits, such as a family history of mental health disorders
- Brain damage due to a serious injury
- Experiencing traumatic events such as combat or assault
- Prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol
- Use or absence of alcohol or drugs
- Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes
- Severe childhood abuse or neglect
- Existing or prior mental health disorder
Brain chemistry can also be a factor, as impaired neural networks involving neurotransmitters can lead to depression and other emotional disorders. Also, stressful life situations, such as losing a loved one or experiencing substantial financial difficulties, may contribute to certain disorders. It’s important to understand that these factors are complex and can be interrelated. Mental health disorders are common. They can occur at any age and have temporary or life-long effects. It’s also possible to have more than one mental health disorder at the same time, such as depression and a substance use disorder.
Mental Health Disorders: Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of mental health disorders can manifest in various ways and may vary depending on the disorder. Sometimes, physical symptoms like stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained aches and pains can result from a mental health disorder. Symptoms of mental health disorders can affect emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and lead to a wide range of symptoms. Some signs and symptoms include:
- Self-harm or suicidal thoughts
- Sudden and extreme mood changes from “lows” to “highs.”
- Excessive and intense irritability, anger, hostility, or violence
- Major increase or decrease in sex drive
- Detachment from reality, including delusions, paranoia, or hallucinations
- Using or abusing alcohol or drugs
- Excessive worrying, fear, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Feeling sad or isolated
- Significant tiredness, fatigue, or problems sleeping
- Inability to understand and relate to other people’s feelings
- Confused thinking, problems concentrating, learning, or completing everyday tasks
- Withdrawal from friends and avoiding social situations and activities
It’s essential to seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms. Remember, you’re not alone, and there is help available.
Helping Someone Who Struggles With Mental Health Disorder
It’s rough loving someone who struggles with a mental health disorder such as depression or schizophrenia, but it’s vital to encourage them to seek help. Left untreated, a mental health issue can worsen to include suicidal thoughts. And someone battling a disorder such as dementia may wander off and become lost.
Treatment for Mental Health Disorders
At NFA Behavioral Health, our full continuum of care can guide you onto the road to recovery so you can start living your best life. Our treatment philosophy incorporates many tools to help you find a recovery plan that works for you and addresses your individual needs. By joining a residential mental health treatment facility, you will have the opportunity to cultivate the necessary skills for reclaiming your independence and fostering personal growth.