As frank and open as we can be as a society, for some reason we shy away from talking about mental disorders. But sadly, someone you probably know, who seems normal, holds a day job, is raising a family and paying their bills on time, is secretly struggling with a mental illness but is afraid or embarrassed to tell anyone. Unfortunately many in our society view mental illness as a sign of weakness, even though like a physical health issue, it is usually due to genetics or is caused by trauma or a stressful event. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults (approximately 61.5 million Americans) experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17 (about 13.6 million) live with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.
“There’s a tremendous need to implode the myths of mental illness, to put a face on it, to show people that a diagnosis does not have to lead to a painful and oblique life,” said Elyn R. Saks, in a New York Times interview, a professor with schizophrenia at the University of Southern California School of Law and the author of The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. “We who struggle with these disorders can lead full, happy, productive lives, if we have the right resources.” These resources usually include medication, therapy, inner strength to manage one’s demons, along with the love and support of others. Here are 8 mental disorders that you should know about in order to help someone in need of support who may be suffering in silence.
1. Panic Disorder
It usually occurs in one’s teens or early adulthood and seems to be a connected with major life transitions that are potentially stressful (college graduation, getting married, first child, etc.). If a family member has had a panic attack it is likely to occur to you. Many don’t report it for fear of being called a hypochondriac, but this disorder is common and highly responsive to treatment.
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2. Conduct Disorder
Many teens and children with conduct disorder suffer from long-term violent and disruptive behavior and have problems following rules. They are often are unable to comprehend how their behavior can hurt others and generally have little guilt. Early intervention can help reduce the risk for incarceration, mood disorders, and substance abuse.
3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Sufferers experience a long-term, consistent preoccupation with rules, order, and control. While a person’s childhood and environment may play a role, it tends to occur in families so is thought to be genetic. Though this disorder can affect both men and women, it occurs mostly in men. People with OCD are high achievers and feel a sense of urgency regarding everything they do.
4. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTD)
Most commonly connected to war veterans, this anxiety disorder may develop after exposure to a terrifying event in which severe physical harm occurred or was threatened. Accidents, violent personal assaults, natural or unnatural disasters, and military combat are examples of such events.
5. Major Depression
While having the blues for those without a disorder is temporary, those with clinical depression suffer a constant sense of hopelessness and despair and often have suicidal thoughts. It can occur in one generation to the next in some families or to those with no family history of it.
Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia sufferers don’t have a split personality. This disorder causes the brain to interpret reality abnormally. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, extremely disordered thinking and behavior, as well as disorganized speech.
7. Addiction Disorder
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) now defines addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or sex as a brain disorder and not a behavior problem as it was long thought to be. Doctors advise not blaming people with an addiction disease and getting them proper treatment.
8. Bipolar Disorder
This very serious disorder can cause risky behavior and suicidal tendencies, Previously known as manic depression, this condition affects a person’s moods, which can swing from one extreme to another with emotional, manic highs and lows. The severity of mood phases can differ from person to person.