Mental Health Disorders

The following information is to help you learn more about mental health issues. For each of the disorders below, we have included an overview of the condition as well as a link for more information.

We hope that you find what you need to get yourself or a loved one on the path to recovery from their mental illness.

Anxiety Disorder

All of us feel anxiety when placed in a stressful situation; in fact, it’s a normal feeling and helps one to cope. But some people worry excessively about everyday situations, and anxiety becomes a disabling disorder.

Those with an anxiety disorder experience chronic anxiety and exaggerated worry, even when there is little to provoke it. Their feelings of anxiety may also be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating and hot flashes. To read more, click here.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from one day to months. This mental illness causes unusual and dramatic shifts in mood, energy and the ability to think clearly. Cycles of high (manic) and low (depressive) moods may follow an irregular pattern that differs from the typical ups and downs experienced by most people. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can have a negative impact on a person’s life. Damaged relationships or a decline in job or school performance are potential effects, but positive outcomes are possible.

Two main features characterize people who live with bipolar disorder: intensity and oscillation (ups and downs). People living with bipolar disorder often experience two intense emotional states. These two states are known as mania and depression. A manic state can be identified by feelings of extreme irritability and/or euphoria, along with several other symptoms during the same week such as agitation, surges of energy, reduced need for sleep, talkativeness, pleasure-seeking and increased risk-taking behavior. On the other side, when an individual experiences symptoms of depression they feel extremely sad, hopeless and loss of energy. Not everyone’s symptoms are the same and the severity of mania and depression can vary. To read more, click here.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an often misunderstood, serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self image and behavior.  It is a disorder of emotional dysregulation. This instability often disrupts family and work, long-term planning and the individual’s sense of self-identity. While less well known than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), BPD is just as common, affecting between 1 – 2 percent of the general population.

The disorder, characterized by intense emotions, self-harming acts and stormy interpersonal relationships, was officially recognized in 1980 and given the name Borderline Personality Disorder. It was thought to occur on the border between psychotic and neurotic behavior.  This is no longer considered a relevant analysis and the term itself, with its stigmatizing negative associations, has made diagnosing BPD problematic.

The complex symptoms of the disorder often make patients difficult to treat and therefore may evoke feelings of anger and frustration in professionals trying to help, with the result that many professionals are often unwilling to make the diagnosis or treat persons with these symptoms.  These problems have been aggravated by the lack of appropriate insurance coverage for the extended psychosocial treatments that BPD usually requires.  Nevertheless, there has been much progress and success in the past 25 years in the understanding of and specialized treatment for BPD.  It is, in fact, a diagnosis that has a lot of hope for recovery. To read more, click here.

Depression

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.

Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression. To read more, click here.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Most people at one time or another experience obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. Obsessive-compulsive disorder occurs when an individual experiences obsessions and compulsions for more than an hour each day, in a way that interferes with his or her life.

OCD is often described as “a disease of doubt.” Sufferers experience “pathological doubt” because they are unable to distinguish between what is possible, what is probable, and what is unlikely to happen. To read more, click here. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Though it may seem like a relatively simple concept, trauma—a powerful experience that may have long-lasting effects—has not always been defined the same. Scientists continue to study experiences of trauma in hopes of finding better treatments. One particular type of trauma is known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD can affect many different people, from survivors of rape and survivors of natural disasters to military service men and women. Roughly 10 percent of women and 5 percent of men are diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetimes, and many others will experience some adverse effects from trauma at some point in their lives. To read more, click here.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that has affected people throughout history. About 1 percent of Americans have this illness.

People with the disorder may hear voices other people don’t hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. This can terrify people with the illness and make them withdrawn or extremely agitated.

People with schizophrenia may not make sense when they talk. They may sit for hours without moving or talking. Sometimes people with schizophrenia seem perfectly fine until they talk about what they are really thinking. To read more, click here.