Some of the most common types of mental illnesses/disorders are anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Knowledge of these disorders will lead to awareness and understanding within communities. As a result, myths, stigmas, and judgments would be less frequent and treatment would be more common. Approximately 44.
7 million people in the United States live with a mental illness (2017). This is why mental illness awareness is so important. Three of the most common mental illnesses are anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression. By gaining an understanding of what these mental illnesses are, the causes, risk factors, signs, symptoms, and available treatments, awareness will increase. The importance of mental health at a young age will debunk myths and raise social consciousness.The most common class of mental disorders are anxiety disorders. Anxiety is a rigid distressing anticipation of a threatening but formless event; a feeling of uneasy suspense (Rachman, 2013). People with anxiety overestimate the likelihood of harm.
They miscalculate their fears and do not rationalize the reality of what is going on. Although it is a normal emotion, when experienced in excess it can be debilitating. “In its purest form, anxiety is diffuse, objectless, unpleasant and persistent” (Rachman, 2013, p. ?). “It is usually unpredictable and uncontrollable” (Rachman, 2013, p. ?).
Triggers initiate anxiety. Situations, thoughts, and feelings all have potential to be triggers (Boyce, et al., 2015). Triggers stimulate the fight or flight response, which causes a release of adrenaline and stress hormones. As a result, the autonomous nervous system responds and causes behavioral responses (Boyce, et al., 2015). Excess anxiety daily can result in a decrease in social interactions, a diminished quality of life, and abating mental health.
Physical symptoms of anxiety include muscle tension, difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue (Boyce, et al., 2015). Heightened or irregular heartbeats, hyperventilation, butterflies in their stomach, an increase in sweating, cold hands, bowel movements, and dry mouth are also symptoms that may be exhibited (Boyce, et al., 2015). Physical signs of anxiety are probable to recognition, unlike mental symptoms. Unless mental symptoms are expressed verbally, they are near impossible to detect.
Fearful thoughts, derealization, denationalization, lack of concentration, and inability to think clearly are examples of mental symptoms (Boyce, et al., 2015).If left untreated anxiety is incessant and symptoms will increase. Many people with anxiety go without treatment because they are unaware that treatment is available. Acupuncture, massages, dietary supplements, meditation, and pharmacotherapy are some of the most common forms of treatment. Others prefer to manage their illness themselves. Self-medication is an unfortunate choice as there are many forms of treatment available.
Individuals with anxiety are more likely to self-medicate with negative forms such as drugs and alcohol; which are known to lead to depression (Lewis-Fernandez, Simpson, Neria, & Schneier, 2010). More than 10% of the world’s population will suffer from depression at least once in their lifetime (Lim, 2008). Depression is a chronic sadness that can last for months or even years. It can disable people mentally, emotionally and socially. Depression is not to be confused with a depressed mood. Depression does not have one cause. It is typically the result of a combination of factors. “Genetic disposition, developmental factors, psychological factors, stressors, trauma and physical illness” are all factors that contribute to depression (Greist ; Jefferson, 1992).
Though depression has multiple derivatives, it can occur spontaneously as well. This is what makes depression so tricky. Depression can be present when “life seems perfect and things are going well” which causes many people who suffer from depression to experience denial (Paolucci ; Paolucci, 2007).Depression may go undetected due to its atypical attributes/symptoms (Lim, 2008). Most symptoms of depression are emotional, but there are also physical and mental symptoms. Symptoms include “constant sadness, irritability, anger, anxiety, constant fatigue, withdrawal from family and friends, lacking the ability to concentrate, significant weight gain or weight loss, lowered libido, significant change in sleep patterns, suicidal thoughts, physical aches and pains with no injury, and indifference” (Lim, 2008). “Studies show that over half of the people suffering from depression are never diagnosed or treated” (Paolucci ; Paolucci, 2007).
Treatment for depression consists of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic, and psychotherapy. Delaying treatment will require higher medication doses and may call for combined types of therapy. If depression goes untreated, it will lead to a decreased quality of life, resistance to treatment, and possible death. Ultimately, “over 30,000 depressed people kill themselves ever year, including over 2,000 children and adolescents” (Paolucci ; Paolucci, 2007).Unlike depression, individuals with bipolar disorder experience uncontrollable, sudden changes in energy, mood, and thought process. “Bipolar disorder affects about 3% of the population (excluding children and teenagers)” (Peacock, 2000).
Repeated alternations in mood are radical. They vary from extreme happiness to extreme sadness. “In between the extremes, their mood might be calm” (Peacock, 2000).Society would like a concrete answer when it comes to the causation of mental illness. While the exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, brain chemistry, environment, and genetics are common influences. Bipolar disorder tends to run in families and many people who have bipolar disorder have a relative with a mood disorder (Peacock, 2000). Although heritability estimates for bipolar disorder are elevated, the pursuit for distinct variants has been challenging (Yildiz, Ruiz, ; Nemeroff, 2016).
Extreme mood swings are a classic sign of bipolar disorder. The individual may appear to have split personalities. Signs of bipolar disorder usually appear in late teenage years and early twenties (Peacock, 2000). Manic episodes or “highs” are a unique indicator of bipolar disorder. Many people overlook this symptom and do not attribute such a good feeling to the illness. The onset of manic episodes and depression may occur without reason, due to stress, or miniscule triggers.
Depressive episodes are often referred to as “lows”. When experiencing a “low”, it is common to spend days or weeks in bed due to a depressive episode. Depression can affect physical health. It can cause weight gain, weight loss, aches, pains, insomnia.
For this reason, it is important to know that treatment is available. Bipolar disorder is treated by using antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, mood stabilizers, and psychotherapy. Having a healthy life style and incorporating self-help strategies are also additional treatment mechanisms. If bipolar disorder goes untreated, it can wreak havoc on a person’s life. It will disrupt the foundation, leaving relationships, studies, employment, and overall wellbeing in mayhem. Left untreated, bipolar disorder will worsen. It causes issues for individuals at school, work, and at home.
During extreme depressive episodes, suicide can seem like the only way to alleviate and escape from emotional pain.