Mental Illness, Types and Symptoms
“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all”
Mental illness: A stigma or a real problem?
Each individual gets "sad" or "blue" at times in his life, and we sometimes make a joke about people being crazy, even though we know that we should not. We have all had some exposure to mental illness, but do we really understand it or know what it is? Many of our preconceptions are often incorrect.
A mental illness can be defined as a health condition that changes a person's thinking, feelings, or behavior (or all three) and that causes the person distress and difficulty in functioning.
Similar to any other disease, it can be severe in some cases and mild in others.
Individuals who have a mental illness do not inevitably look like they are sick, particularly in cases of mild illness. Some individuals may show more symptoms such as confusion, agitation, or withdrawal.
There are several different mental illnesses, such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Some other brain disorders include Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis, however, they are considered neurological diseases instead of mental illnesses.
It has been shown that difference between mental illnesses and other brain or neurological disorders is blurred.
Moreover, growing evidences suggest that mental illness is associated with changes in the brain's structure, chemistry, and function and these disease does exhibit a biological basis.
Few people feel that mental illness is rare, it only happens to people with different and difficult life situations, and that it will never affect them.
However, surveys of mental illness showed that this belief is far from accurate, as one of every four people is affected by mental illness either directly or indirectly.
A view into Statistics of Mental Illness
• It has been seen that four among the top 10 leading causes of disability are mental illnesses, which includes major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder
• About 5 percent of adults are affected with severe mental illness that it interferes with their ability to function in society.
• According to WHO, mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10-19 years.
• Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds.
• Approximately 20 percent of doctor's appointments are associated with anxiety disorders such as panic attacks
• Eight million people have depression each year
14 Types of mental illness
• People with this type of mental illness react to certain objects or situations with fear and dread.
• Besides, it is accompanied with physical signs of anxiety or panic, such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating.
• This disorder includes generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.
• They are usually identified, if the person's response is not suitable for the situation.
• These disorders are also known as affective disorders that may include fluctuations from persistent feelings of sadness to periods of feeling overly happy.
• The most common mood disorders are depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymic disorder.
• Patients of psychotic disorders have distorted awareness and thinking.
• Two of the most common symptoms of psychotic disorders are hallucinations and delusions.
• Schizophrenia is an example of a psychotic disorder.
• These involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors involving weight and food.
• The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
Impulse control and addiction disorders
• Patients with impulse control disorders are incapable to resist urges, or impulses, to perform acts that could be harmful to themselves or others.
• Some examples include pyromania (starting fires), kleptomania (stealing), and compulsive gambling.
• While, alcohol and drug are common objects of addictions.
• People with addiction become so engrossed with the objects of their addiction that they begin to overlook their responsibilities and relationships.
• People with these disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits that can interfere in work, school, or social relationships.
• Examples include antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Individuals affected with OCD are afflicted by constant thoughts or fears that persuade them to perform certain rituals or routines.
• The disturbing thoughts are known as obsessions, and the rituals are called compulsions.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• PTSD is a condition that can develop subsequent to a traumatic event, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, or a natural disaster.
• These individuals have lasting and frightening thoughts and memories of the event, and tend to be emotionally numb.
Stress response syndromes
• These can occur when a person develops emotional or behavioral symptoms in result to a stressful situation.
• The stressors may include natural disasters, events or crises, interpersonal problems, or a problem with substance abuse.
• The syndromes usually start within three months of the event or situation and finishes within six months after the stressor stops or is eliminated.
• People with dissociative disorders may have severe disturbances in memory, consciousness, identity, and general awareness of themselves and their surroundings.
• Dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, or "split personality," and depersonalization disorder are examples of dissociative disorders.
• These are conditions in which a person intentionally creates or complains of physical and/or emotional symptoms in order to act as a patient or a person in need of help.
Sexual and gender disorders
• These include disorders that can influence sexual desire, performance, and behaviour.
Somatic symptom disorders
• It was previously known as a psychosomatic disorder or somatoform disorder.
• These patients experience physical symptoms of an illness or of pain with an excessive level of distress, irrespective whether or not a doctor can find a medical cause for the symptoms.
• People with these disorders make sounds or display non-purposeful body movements that are repeated, quick, sudden, and/or uncontrollable.
• Tourette's syndrome is an example of a tic disorder.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
• These patients show symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity or impulsivity present for at least 6 months to a degree, which is inconsistent with developmental level.
15 Warning Signs of Mental Illness
Each mental illness has its own characteristic symptoms. However, there are some general warning signs that might alert you that someone needs professional help.
The section below discusses 15 early warning signs of mental illness.
1. Appetite and weight changes
• Changes in eating pattern is crucial indicato.r
• Eating too much or too little can show signs of depression
• Some people eat more food for comfort, whereas others lose their appetite or eat less due to bad mood.
• These alterations in food intake can cause gain or lose weight, which in turn, can also exacerbate depression by affect self-esteem of an individual.
• Besides, increased weight or carrying excess fat can cause increased inflammation in the body, which also play a role in the development or increased severity of depressive symptoms.
2. Changes in sleep habits
• Evidence suggest that there is a strong association between mood and sleep.
• Sleep deprivation can result in mental illness, and vice-a-versa.
3. Alcohol or drug use
• Individual with mood disorders may use alcohol or drugs to cope with their feelings of sadness, loneliness, or hopelessness.
• It has been reported in developed countries that around 1 in 5 people with anxiety or a mood disorder such as depression also have an alcohol or substance use disorder.
• Similarly, 1 in 5 people with an alcohol or substance use disorder also have a mood disorder.
• Feeling excessively tired is a frequently encountered symptom of mental illness.
• It has been observed that over 90% of people with depression experience fatigue.
5. Forced happiness
• Depression have a hidden sign known as “smiling depression”.
• People who hide their symptoms may put on a happy face when in the company of others.
• Nevertheless, it can get difficult to keep up this forced happiness, and sometimes, the mask may slip and a person may show signs of sadness, hopelessness, or loneliness.
6. Less optimistic in contrast to others
• It has been revealed that individuals with depression may display a trait known as “depressive realism”
• They may be more exact in their view of events and the control they have over those events than people without depression
• They also may also be more pessimistic than others individuals.
7. Lack of concentration
• Issues with memory and concentration is a common symptom of mental illness.
• When a person trails off during conversations or loses their train of thought, it can be a sign of depression.
• Lack of focus can worsen the social impact of mental illness, which makes work life and personal relationships significantly challenging.
8. Loss of interests in hobbies
• The National Institute of Mental Health states a “loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities” as one of the significant symptoms of depression.
• This is considered as the first sign that someone can notice when their loved one has mental illness.
9. Physical pains and health disorders
• Besides weight changes and fatigue, other physical symptoms of mental illness include:
o Chronic pain conditions
o Digestive problems
• Some individuals with major mental illness can have more severe consequences:
o Autoimmune conditions
o Heart disease
o Type 2 diabetes.
10. Low sex drive
• Some healthcare workers consider changes in sex drive an important indicator for diagnosing episodes of major depression.
• People with mental illness can show sign of recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
12. Amplified sensitivity
• It has been observed that individual with mental illness shows raised sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; hence, the person tries to avoid over-stimulating situations.
• Individual with mental illness can feel loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity.
14. Feeling detached
• Individual feels a vague sensation of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings with sense of unreality.
15. Illogical thinking
• People with mental illness can have unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or impact events.
• It is typical of adult to think magical or illogical.
A person who shows any of these signs should seek help from a qualified health professional.
Mental Health Disorders in Adolescents. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Available at: https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2017/07/mental-health-disorders-in-adolescents
Warning Signs of Mental Illness. American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/warning-signs-of-mental-illness
Information about Mental Illness and the Brain. NIH Curriculum Supplement Series. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK20369/
Types of Mental Illness. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-types-illness
Adolescent mental health-WHO. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-mental-health
Recognizing the hidden signs of depression. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325513
14 Types of mental illness