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Mental Health and the Most Common Mental Disorders

Mental health is an inherent part of the human nature. If any mental disease affects it, the life of a person is always dramatically changed. In order to avoid a disaster, everyone should care about his/her mental health.

However, not everyone does. More than 22 million Americans suffer from different mental diseases; two thirds of those go untreated. Eight in ten sufferers, though, can be back to the usual rhythm of life after the appropriate treatment. Their carelessness, on the other hand, leads to the situation, where mental illnesses are 4 to 8 of the 10 leading causes of disability in the developed countries.

Hopefully, the information on the most common mental disorders will change the status quo.

Anxiety Disorders (AD) target more than 19 million Americans. Their main feature is an excessive, irrational fear of different things: - of everyday activity (including job, family, health, money, etc) – Generalized Anxiety Disorder; - of being on public - Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder); - of particular objects and situations (a fear of height, blood, insects, etc) - Specific Phobias; - of disturbing thoughts and images and desire to get rid of them by performing some rituals (washing hands, counting and checking, etc) - Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; - of the terrifying experience or event (rape, somebody’s death, earthquake) - Post-traumatic Stress Disorder; - of being unable to escape if something happens - Agoraphobia; - Panic Disorder is a panic attack in a particular situation (in a bus, when facing a boss, etc).

Mood Disorders include Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression). The first one is a state of a complete dissatisfaction with life with no desire to go on. A person is in low spirits for a long period of time and feels useless. It is all accompanied by sleeplessness, low self-esteem, loss of sexual drive, social withdrawal, apathy and fatigue.

Bipolar Disorder is a constant swinging from “blues” and apathy to hyperactivity and abnormal elation.

Schizophrenic Disorders are serious illnesses which change the individual’s personality and the way a sufferer thinks, feels and acts. These states are provoked by chemical imbalances in brain and are characterized by hallucinations, delusions, incoherent speech and impaired reasoning.

About 2 million Americans suffer from this kind of mental disorders. Women are more likely to recover from it.

Eating Disorders (ED) often accompany other mental illnesses as depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. They may result in obesity, dystrophy, heart diseases, and kidney failure and even lead to death. Women suffer from ED more often than men.

Anorexia nervosa is usually provoked by the fear of gaining extra weight and losing attractiveness. It is characterized by the resistance to eat, even if a person is actually underweight. Bulimia means recurrent episodes of binge/excessive eating. The disorder occurs with inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as a self-induced vomiting, usage of laxatives and diuretics in order not to gain weight.

Binge-Eating Disorder is characterized by eating excessive amount of food, often without feeling hungry. A person may feel guilty and embarrassed because of a disease, and the remorse still intensifies the disorder.

Personality Disorders (PD) affect and change a person’s behavior, perceiving and responding to self, other people and the world. A sufferer acts inflexible and notably different from the expectations of his/her culture. Such behavior affects all the spheres of one’s life. The onset of PD starts in adolescence or early adulthood. Nowadays 10-15% of adult US population suffers from PD.

Here are the key features of each type of PD: - Paranoid - distrust and a constant suspicion of other people; avoidance of close relationships; - Schizoid – sufferers are “loners”, distant people, avoiding any relationships and not showing much emotion; - Schizotypal or mild schizophrenia is characterized by seeking isolation, thinking and perceiving everything in a weird way, willing to find some special connection between the absolutely unrelated events; - Antisocial – a state when a person becomes a danger to the society, caring about personal needs only, being disposed to criminal behavior, violence, aggression, willing to take advantage of everybody else; - Borderline - constant mood swings, anger bouts, suicidal intentions - Histrionic PD makes a person seek everyone’s love and constant attention; - Narcissistic - self-centeredness, self-affection, exaggeration self-achievements; - Avoidant PD is characterized by low self-confidence, social anxiety, fear of being on public alongside with a desire to communicate and have relationships with the others; - Dependent – sufferers need to be taken care of; become helpless when left on alone; cannot make any decisions without somebody’s help. Childhood Disorders (CDs) affect 10-20% of children. The causes can be different: from parental abuse and intense or stressed life outside the family to genetic predisposition inherited from the other family members. Mostly, CDs are similar to those of the adults. They are divided into two big clusters: disorders of psychological development (dyslexia, autism);

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behavioural and emotional disorders (attention deficit/hyperactivity, conduct disorder).

The signs of danger are: sudden and extreme mood and behavior changes or prolonged tension and anxiety; changes in eating and sleeping habits; atypical thoughts and speech; loss of energy and interest in life; talk of suicide; desire of loneliness.

Substance-Related Disorders are the common and predominant cause of premature illness, disability and death. These disorders are characterized by the misuse, abuse and dependence on substances, such as alcohol, amphetamine, cocaine, hallucinogen, nicotine and others. They are said to be well-treated if early diagnosed and the treatment is more successful if a person really wants to get rid of the disease.


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