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Mental Health – General

A mental disorder or illness can cause mild to severe disturbance in rational thought, in behavior, and in relationships. There are more than 200 known forms of mental disorders and illnesses, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Mental disorders are common in the United States and around the world. Among adults, 18 and older, 1 in 5 in the U.S. are diagnosed with some form of a mental illness or disorder, and one in ten in children and adolescents suffer from mental illness severe enough to cause impairment. Yet, only one in five of these children receive mental health care or services. Four out of ten of the leading causes of disability in the U.S. and other developed countries are related to mental illnesses or disorders. At least one-third of the estimated 600,000 homeless have a form of severe psychiatric disorder and 16% of inmates have been treated for a psychiatric disorder. The general definition of mental illness or disorder includes many specific disorders like drug addiction, eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and many others. For detailed information on specific disorders and illnesses, refer to the named articles related to each disorder. In the U.S., the diagnosis of a mental disorder, illness or disease is often based on the standards established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Worldwide, over 450 million people are affected by some form of mental disorder or illness. Patients are often considered as social outcasts and their quality of life is significantly compromised. Mental Health disorders result in significant global economic and social costs. There are effective treatments for most disorders and, for those patients who are properly diagnosed and treated, it is possible to live a productive life. Mental health disorders and mental illness compromise the patient’s capacity to manage their life, to communicate effectively, to work, go to school and sustain normal relationships. Patients often find it hard to cope with change or stress.

Mental Health disorders can be caused by the patient’s reaction to stress, by hereditary factors, an imbalance in brain chemicals, or a combination of these things. While many people believe that mental disorders and illnesses are rare, in fact, an estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some type of mental disorder or illness.

What are the symptoms?

Each mental health disorder or illness can have its own array of symptoms. For detailed information regarding symptoms of specific disorders, refer to the named article for that disorder. The following symptoms are general symptoms a patient may exhibit because of a mental health disorder or illness:

  • Unexplained physical problems and complaints
  • Confusion, inability to focus
  • Hopelessness, depression
  • Excessive worry, anxiety, fear
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Inability to function normally at work, home, school, in social situations
  • Denial or attempts to hide problems
  • Substance or alcohol abuse
  • Bouts of anger or crying for no apparent reasons
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Extreme highs and lows in mood
  • Withdrawal
  • Hallucinations, delusions, bizarre behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts, talking about suicide, self injury
  • Aggressive, disruptive or combative behavior

How is it diagnosed and treated?

Diagnostic tests and techniques, and treatment for mental health disorders or illnesses vary, depending on the disorder. For detailed information on diagnosis and treatment of specific disorders, refer to the named article for that disorder. Generally, doctors will begin the diagnostic process with routine medical exams and blood tests to rule out other medical and mental disorders. The doctor may request a consultation by a psychologist or psychiatrist if a mental disorder is suspected.

Treatment(s) will vary depending upon the disorder or illness. Treatment(s) can include one or some of the following therapies:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Coping Skills and Training to teach the patient and family how to work with the disorder and mitigate symptoms
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) in extreme cases of disorder or illness
  • Self-Help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, 12-step facilitated groups
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Medications designed to address the symptoms of the specific disorder (anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, etc.)
  • Hospitalization and detoxification in extreme cases of disorder or illness

Index of Articles

Statistics

An estimated 22.1% of Americans (18 and over), or 1 in 5 adults, suffer from a mental disorder (about 44.3 million people). 4 of 10 reported disabilities are due to mental disorders, like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

1997 statistics reported 40 million visits to doctors’ offices, 3.7 million visits to hospital emergency rooms.

Outpatient statistics: 49.2 million general visits for mental health disorders, 19.4 for depression, 5.7 million for anxiety, 3.6 million for alcohol or drugs and 3.5 million for ADHD.

In 2002 the number of suicide deaths, secondary to mental illness was 31,655.

Nursing Home Statistics: 27.4% of nursing home residents suffer from some form of mental disorder, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Sample of American Adult Statistics for Specific Disorders:

Depressive Disorder: 18.8 million

Dysthymic Disorder: 10.9 million

Bipolar Disorder: 2.3 million

Schizophrenia: 2.2 million

Anxiety Disorders: 19.1 million

Alzheimers Disease: 4 million

Autism: 1-2 people per thousand

ADHD: 4.1% (ages 9-17)

If you are in a crisis please call:
1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) or
1-800-273-TALK (8255)


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