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Mental illness is a prevalent affliction, affecting about 43.8 million adults in the United States. Even children and teenagers are not immune to the potentially devastating effects of mental illness. Of the number of adults experiencing a mental illness, only about 41 percent of them received treatment for their disorder in the past year. Although stigmas surround mental illness, the consequences of not receiving treatment can be devastating. Lost earnings, job loss, hospitalizations, and even suicide are potential risks for lack of treatment.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol is considered a mental illness because the abuse causes significant changes to the brain. As these changes occur, a person’s ability to make responsible choices and set priorities becomes compromised. The brain changes so that compulsive behavior associated with the addiction takes over. As tolerance to the chemicals builds, the addicted person becomes more and more consumed with ensuring continued use of the substance.
- Drug Facts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: Addiction involves compulsive drug use, which actually changes the brain.
- What Is Addiction? Addiction is a prevalent disease that affects about 40 million Americans who are age 12 and older.
- The Science of Addiction: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: Scientists and physicians now realize that addiction is a disease of the brain because the addictive behavior actually changes the structure and function of the brain.
- Hope, Help, and Healing (PDF): Addiction can cause drastic shifts in personality and mood, and an addicted person may become emotionally unstable.
- Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: Someone struggling with addiction might begin engaging in secretive behavior, and a lack of motivation is another symptom of addiction.
Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Anxiety is a normal part of life. People have fears that cause anxiety, such as visiting the dentist. Philadelphia, PA, residents and people all around the country can find viable dental solutions to ease anxiety. But sometimes, anxiety or intrusive thoughts become so overpowering that it has a negative effect on people’s daily lives. Someone suffering from an anxiety disorder may experience fear and panic about specific issues or activities that is so intense that they cannot function. Someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder may have trouble with unwanted thoughts or fears, and to deal with these fears, a person with OCD may begin performing ritualistic behaviors such as washing hands, turning light switches on and off, or repeatedly checking appliances to make sure that they are off.
- Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety can be a normal reaction to everyday stress. However, some people feel an overwhelming level of anxiety that interferes with daily functioning.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (PDF): Intrusive and obsessive thoughts can cause worry. When these thoughts escalate to anxiety, some people begin repetitive and ritualistic behavior to cope.
- Assessment and Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents (PDF): Some examples of ritualistic behavior associated with OCD include handwashing, rearranging possessions, and repetitive actions such as buttoning and unbuttoning clothing.
- Anxiety Disorders: Someone with an anxiety disorder may reach a point where fears make it difficult to function normally throughout the day.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (PDF): Obsessive-compulsive disorder leads a person to use compulsive behaviors to try to control upsetting thoughts.
Attention Deficit Disorder
Attention deficit disorder is also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. People afflicted with this disorder have a neurological disability that leads to impulsive behavior and hyperactivity. An inability to pay close attention to instructions or information, difficulty organizing tasks, excessive energy and fidgeting, and an avoidance of work that necessitates careful thinking are common signs of this disorder. People may exhibit just inattention, just hyperactivity, or both symptoms.
- Is it ADHD? (PDF): Diagnosis of ADHD involves multiple steps. For a formal diagnosis, a person must exhibit several different symptoms that appear in more than one setting.
- Identifying and Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (PDF): Attention deficit disorder involves symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity cause by a neurological illness.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A child or adult who regularly shows distractibility, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity may be showing symptoms of ADHD.
- What Is ADHD? Estimates suggest that between three and five percent of all children in the United States have ADHD; however, this number may not be completely accurate due to a lack of diagnosis for some children.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: An inability to focus on tasks and to control behavior are the hallmarks of attention deficit disorder.
Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Depression and bipolar disorder are mood disorders. Depression occurs with an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, which results in prolonged sadness, irritability, indifference, lack of energy, social withdrawal, and even suicide. Bipolar disorder involves swings between extreme depression and mania, characterized by extreme agitation or happiness. The length of these mood shifts can last for mere hours or as long as several months. Both depression and bipolar disorder are treatable with medication.
- Bipolar Disorder (PDF): Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric illness that involves extreme mood swings shifting back and forth from mania to depression.
- Overview of Bipolar Disorder (PDF): The mood swings present with bipolar disorder are usually so extreme that they interfere with daily functioning.
- Depression: Signs and Symptoms of Youth Depression: Someone suffering with depression may show symptoms such as sadness and lack of motivation.
- Common Symptoms of Depression (PDF): If depression symptoms persist for more than two weeks, a person may need intervention to treat the illness.
- Depression Basics: Although sadness is a common symptom of depression, there are other common behaviors. Difficulty concentrating and overwhelming tiredness are also common for people who feel depressed.
Someone exhibiting extreme distress about their weight and body image, accompanied by unusual eating habits, may be showing signs of an eating disorder. Some people with an eating disorder engage in severe dietary restrictions, while others overeat or binge. Excessive exercising and induced vomiting are additional behaviors common with eating disorders. Treatment of eating disorders involves nutritional and psychological therapy as well as medication to help resolve anxiety symptoms.
- Eating Disorders (PDF): Eating disorders involve extreme disruptions in eating, such as excessive dieting or overeating.
- Definition of Eating Disorders: Eating disorders come in different forms, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Both disorders involve a preoccupation with and concern about body weight.
- Eating Disorder Assessment and Treatment (PDF): Restricting or binge eating are common symptoms of eating disorders. Excessive exercise and purging are also common behaviors associated with eating disorders.
- Food and Weight Preoccupation: When thoughts about food and weight lead to abnormal and unhealthy behavior toward food, someone may have an eating disorder.
- Kids and Eating Disorders: Because kids are still growing, an eating disorder can cause significant issues with healthy growth and development.
A person with schizophrenia is afflicted with a mental illness that interferes with thought processes. A schizophrenic person has serious problems managing feelings and making decisions. As the illness progresses, hallucinations and delusions are common. A specific cause of schizophrenia has not been determined; however, genetics and substance abuse could be factors.
- Schizophrenia: Rehabilitation and Recovery (PDF): With treatment, a person with schizophrenia can function productively both personally and professionally.
- Facts About Schizophrenia (PDF): Symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, hallucinations, flattened emotions, and disordered thinking.
- Overview of Schizophrenia: Physicians do not know the precise cause of schizophrenia, but it may be connected with genetics.
- What Is Schizophrenia? Untreated, schizophrenia can advance to the point where a person cannot think coherently and interact appropriately with other people.
- The Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia: The hallucinations and delusions associated with schizophrenia can cause extreme and irrational responses in a person afflicted with this disease.
Sexual assault and abuse can have a devastating impact, both in the short and long term. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common issue for rape victims. Children who are abused may grow up to have issues with dissociation, which involves a disconnect between thoughts, memory, and identity. Sexual abuse also has a common link to substance abuse.
- Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Mental Health Issue: When sexual abuse occurs during childhood, a person can grow up with scars that can lead to mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
- The Psychological Consequences of Sexual Trauma: Rape survivors may experience long-term anxiety and distress, which can occur regardless of the age at which the abuse occurred.
- Child Sexual Abuse: A Mental Health Issue? The trauma involved with child sexual abuse can lead to psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and interpersonal dysfunction.
- Impact of Child Sexual Abuse on Mental Health: Victims of childhood sexual abuse have a higher rate of childhood mental health disorders and anxiety disorders.
- Long-Term Effects of Child Sexual Abuse: A victim of childhood sexual abuse may carry this trauma into adulthood, and it may manifest with sexual adjustment issues or problems interacting with other people.
Other Mental Health Resources
- What Is Hoarding Disorder? Someone experiencing hoarding disorder may begin to obsessively save items that can lead to extreme clutter in the home.
- Borderline Personality Disorder: A borderline personality disorder may manifest with mood instability, provocative behavior, self-destructive behavior, and demands for constant attention.
- Dissociative Disorders: A dissociative disorder may begin after a traumatic event such as abuse. To cope, the person may try to escape from the pain by detaching from emotions and memories.
- Panic Disorder: Panic is the body’s natural response to an emergency. However, sometimes panic attacks can happen even when danger is not present.
- Mental Health: Keeping Your Emotional Health: Emotional health involves control over thoughts and feelings as they lead to behaviors. Someone who is emotionally healthy usually has a positive self-concept and good relationships with others.
- Mental Health: Athletes can experience mental health issues if they have physical injuries or other stressors such as problems with coaching or excessive demands on their time.
- The Mental Health of Adolescents (PDF): Adolescents experiencing issues such as depression can exhibit risky behavior like substance abuse.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: Social anxiety disorder involves an excessive fear of being judged or analyzed by others.
- What Is Mental Illness? Mental illness involves a disorder of the brain that can lead to a range of symptoms at varying degrees of severity.
- Common Mental Health Disorders: Adolescents often have difficulty controlling their emotions. However, a youngster experiencing a mental illness may be even more out of control or despondent.
- Early Signs of Psychosis: Psychosis generally involves early warning signs that indicate a possible issue. These symptoms can include a decline in function, social withdrawal, and sleep disturbances.
- What Causes Personality Disorders? Personality disorders might originate from genetic links or from trauma that occurred during childhood.
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