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Other Mental Illnesses

In addition to the mental illness pages on this site, there are many other disorders that affect people’s mental health. Although this site does not offer a comprehensive list, the following is some information on more common mental disorders. Please refer to the links at the bottom of the page for more information on these disorders.


Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems in our society today. People suffering from anxiety disorders have intense, sometimes unrealistic apprehension, fear, and worry. Sometimes this is because of a specific stressful situation or anticipating this event, though oftentimes it is not. Many people experience a rise in blood pressure, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, nausea, and other signs of agitation or discomfort.

There are many types of anxiety disorders. Some of the most common are: panic disorder, social phobia, agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

Panic Disorders and Attacks

What is panic disorder?
Panic disorders are often seen in people who also suffer from depression, and is most common in young adults. The disorder usually shows up in periodic attacks of anxiety or terror. Many times these attacks occur unexpectedly and without reason. In general, the attacks last 15 to 30 minutes. How often they happen differs from person to person. For some people it may happen every week, while for others it may occur every few months.

What are the symptoms?
For someone to be diagnosed with panic attack, they must have at least four of the following symptoms and have had four or more attacks within a four-week period:

  • Fast heart beat
  • Extreme sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shakiness
  • A choking sensation
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Numbness
  • Hot flashes/chills
  • Chest pain
  • Fear of dying
  • Feeling of losing control

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
Post-traumatic stress disorder usually develops after experiencing a very traumatic or life-threatening event. Sometimes people who felt physically threatened or witnessed violence develop PTSD – they do not have to have been physically injured.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be very debilitating for some people. It can cause nightmares and sleeping disorders, terror and flashbacks, feelings of being alone, and guilt, paranoia and panic.

What are the symptoms?

  • Recurring, intrusive, and distressing memories of the event.
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event.
  • Becoming emotionally numb and withdrawing.
  • Difficulty sleeping and concentrating, and fearing for your personal safety.

Social Anxiety

What is social anxiety?
People suffering from social anxiety have extreme self-consciousness in social or public situations. These situations vary by person – sometimes it is in a crowd, or public speaking, or eating in a restaurant. The person with social anxiety will have a very intense feeling of being watched, judged, and negatively evaluated. Many of these people avoid social situations which can damage their personal and professional lives. Social phobia is a common disorder, affecting over 5 million people in a given year. It often begins in childhood and rarely develops after age 25. People with social phobia are often aware that their fears are irrational but are unable to lessen or erase these fears.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of social phobia are much the same as they are for other anxiety disorders, and include trembling, or shaking, intense sweating, nausea, difficulty talking, dry mouth, and a racing heart. Like other anxiety illnesses these symptoms range from being mild and tolerable to so severe that they become socially debilitating.


Obsessive-Compulsive disorder

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by intense, recurrent, unwanted thoughts and rituals that are beyond the person's control such as hand washing, counting, organizing, hoarding, and cleaning. The person with this disorder usually knows that these thoughts and behaviors are irrational, but they cannot control them. When they do not engage in these behaviors, their anxiety grows rapidly.

For some people, OCD is fairly mild and they are able to keep it managed. For others, it is more severe and can control their lives if left untreated. The symptoms of OCD usually occur first during childhood or the teen years. Sometimes, people with OCD will also have depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders.

What are the symptoms?
OCD has two main symptoms:

  • Obsessions: recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, and impulses that interrupt normal thinking, cause anxiety or fear, and will not go away
  • Compulsions: behaviors or rituals that are repeated intentionally to try to control the obsessions (disturbing, fearful thoughts)

Eating Disorders

What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders are illnesses that cause a person to approach food and eating in a harmful way. They are most common with teenage girls and women and are often accompanied by other mental health problems like depression and anxiety disorders. They can be extremely harmful, and even lead to death because of poor nutrition and other damage to the body. There are two most common eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Anorexia
People with anorexia purposefully starve themselves, despite their hunger. They tend to be very good in sports, school, and work -- often seeking perfection. Some people with anorexia stop eating in order to gain a feeling of control over their lives, while others may do so to rebel against parents and other loved ones.

What are the symptoms of anorexia?

  • Rapid weight loss over several weeks or months
  • Dieting even though weight is already very low
  • Having an intense fear of gaining weight or getting fat
  • Believing that the body is fat when in reality it is not
  • Watching every bite of food
  • Eating in secret
  • Having an unusual interest in food
  • Exercising very often
  • Becoming very depressed or anxious
  • Infrequent or absent menstrual periods
  • Wearing loose clothing to hide weight loss
  • Wanting to be perfect or being highly self-critical
  • Purging by vomiting or use of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics.
  • Physical signs such as a low tolerance to cold weather, brittle hair and nails, dry or yellowing skin, anemia, constipation, and swollen joints.
 
Bulimia
For people suffering with bulimia nervosa, large amounts of food are eaten all at once, and then vomited. The vomiting is triggered by a fear of weight gain or stomach pain. People with bulimia also use laxatives, diuretics, and vigorous exercise to purge themselves. In order for a person to be diagnosed with bulimia, this behavior must occur at least twice a week for three months in a row. Although people with bulimia are often underweight, they may also appear to have a normal body weight.

What are the symptoms of bulimia?

  • Fasting
  • Secrecy about eating behaviors
  • Frequent bathroom use after eating
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Chewing and spitting out foods
  • Preoccupation with food and weight
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Feelings of anxiousness
  • Intense feelings of guilt or shame
  • Physical problems such as a sore or bleeding throat, stomach problems, heartburn, bloating, swollen glands in the cheeks and face, and tooth decay.
 

Other Sources of Information


Antisocial Personality Disorder

Mental Health America
National Institute of Mental Health
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
WebMD

Anxiety & Panic Disorders
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
WebMD

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA)
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
WebMD

Borderline Personality Disorder
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
WebMD

Eating Disorders
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
National Institute of Mental Health
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
WebMD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
WebMD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health
PTSD Association
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
WebMD