There is a wide range of mental illnesses that affect how we think, feel and behave. Mental health problems include the more common conditions such as anxiety that can be experienced temporarily as a result of the stresses in life, but may develop into more severe conditions. Mental illness can affect people for a lifetime or can be temporary.
An anxiety disorder is a medical condition characterised by persistent and/or excessive worry. Anxiety disorders can take a number of forms. Common to all of these is anxiety so distressing it can interfere with a person’s ability to carry out, or take pleasure in, day-to-day life. A person may experience more than one anxiety disorder. Some people may also experience depression with the anxiety, or have problems with alcohol or drug abuse.
Anxiety disorders can be triggered by causes such as trauma, stress, physical health, or a history of anxiety in the family.
Clinical depression is an illness, a medical condition. It significantly affects the way someone feels, causing a persistent lowering of mood. Depression is often accompanied by a range of other physical and psychological symptoms that can interfere with the way a person is able to function in their everyday life. The symptoms of depression generally react positively to treatment.
People with the Bipolar disorder can become high, over-excited and reckless, or imagine that they are more important or influential than they are in real life. They can also become extremely low, feeling helpless and depressed, with difficulty making decisions or concentrating. Some people mainly experience highs. Some experience mainly lows, and some experience both extremes — becoming profoundly depressed or over-excited. The person may then behave in an uncharacteristically irrational or risky manner. The causes of Bipolar Disorder are not fully understood, but are likely to be a combination of genetics and other causes.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that disrupts the functioning of the human mind and often distorts the perception of reality. It causes intense episodes of psychosis involving delusions and hallucinations, and longer periods of reduced expression and functioning, it is treatable. Some of the causes of Schizophrenia are genetics, early childhood trauma, substance abuse and stressful social circumstances. One of the main symptoms of schizophrenia is psychosis. A person experiencing psychosis finds it hard to tell what is real from what isn’t. Psychosis is often experienced in episodes. People with schizophrenia have one personality, it has nothing to do with multiple personalities.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is an anxiety disorder. People living with OCD are troubled by recurring fears and unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses, as well as obsessions and repetitive behaviours. People with OCD are usually aware of their obsessions and compulsions, but they find impossible to control the obsessions and compulsions.
Some common obsessions include:
- Fear of contamination from germs, dirt or poisons
- Fear of harm to self or others
- Irrational fear of everyday situations
- Concerns with symmetry, order, and routine
Compulsions include repetitive actions that are performed to prevent an obsessive threat from happening or to reduce anxiety.
Some common compulsions include:
- Excessive hand washing or showering
- Excessive checking of locks or electrical appliances
- Repeatedly counting or ordering of objects
- Tapping, counting or moving in a certain way or a certain number of times
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a form of anxiety disorder which can develop after someone experiences a traumatic event. This event could be a physical or sexual assault, torture, an accident or a natural disaster. People with PTSD may experience feelings such as fear, horror, anger, panic, and hopelessness. They can relive the traumatic event and feel intense emotional or physical reactions when reminded of the event such as sweating and heart palpitations. PTSD symptoms include feeling anxious and getting panic attacks, feeling emotionally numb and avoiding any situations that remind them of the trauma, sleeping trouble.
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