Understanding Mental Health Disorders
The stigma associated with mental health disorders, often prevents those experiencing symptoms of mental illness from seeking the help they need. Though most individuals are generally comfortable discussing physical health maladies, and may be perfectly at ease opening up about their struggles with cancer, diabetes or arthritis, talking openly about mental illness is a topic that can seem daunting or disquieting. Since people do not talk about mental illness with sufficient openness or clarity, many of us also fail to understand exactly what mental illness is.
What is a Mental Health Disorder?
Mental illnesses are often referred to as “invisible” illnesses. While the physical effects of a cold or a broken arm can be readily observed, the effects of a mental illness tend to be inward or behavioral—harder to diagnose or to quantify with the naked eye. However, this does not make them any less real. It does not even make them any less physical: Mental illnesses are usually linked to imbalanced brain chemicals or issues with the actual structures and passageways of the brain. A mental health disorder is not “just in someone’s head,” and requires care with both compassion and clinical precision.
Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness
Mental health disorders manifest in different ways and impact individuals in unique ways; thus, it is impossible to exhaustively list the various signs and symptoms. With that said, there are some common signs to possible mental health disorders—all-important to watch out for.
List of Mental Health Disorders
There is a variety of different mental health disorders. Each one has a unique cause and can affect an individual in specific ways. WestBridge provides integrated dual diagnosis programs for a range of these mental health disorders, a partial list of which includes each of the following:
To have clinical depression is not the same thing as feeling sad, melancholy or blue. While sadness usually has its roots in something specific—like a sense of loss—depression is a mood disorder that can be ongoing and may seem without external cause; it can lead to lethargy, aimlessness and in some cases even suicidal ideation.
Bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic-depressive disorder, refers to a disruptive brain disorder that prompts unpredictable shifts in mood, energy levels and even everyday functioning. Bipolar disorder can exacerbate the normal highs and lows of life, and make it difficult to cope with even minor setbacks.
The feeling of anxiety is a normal and even healthy part of daily living, but an anxiety disorder can cause something more than temporary worry or fear; it can be long lasting, and it can worsen over time, interfering with daily activities and responsibilities.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that occurs in people who have lived through scary, dangerous or traumatic events. It is commonly associated with military veterans and those who have experienced abuse, though a range of other occurrences can cause it. Those with PTSD may feel anxious even when they are not in any kind of danger, and can sometimes experience “flashbacks,” or intrusive memories of past trauma.
Individuals experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia may have a difficult time distinguishing between what is real and what may be a hallucination or delusion. This is a serious condition that can impair thinking, actions and daily living. Contrary to the common misconception, this condition is not the same as “split personalities” and is seldom dangerous, though it is always serious.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by obsessions (persistent thoughts about something the individual fears) and compulsions (ritualistic behaviors that the person engages in to seek relief from what he fears). An individual with OCD may find that it takes a great deal of time even to complete basic, everyday tasks.
Mental Health Disorders Statistics
Something that might surprise you about mental health disorders is how common they actually are. Millions of people are affected by mental health disorders, with many more diagnosed every single day. Consider some of these statistics:
Mental health disorders are obviously endemic to American life and health—but the good news is that treatment and recovery are possible. The important thing is to seek clinical care as soon as possible