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 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
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
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
- Fast heart beat
- Extreme sweating
- Shortness of breath
- A choking sensation
- 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
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
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.
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:
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)
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
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.
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?
- 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