Post No.: 0047
Mental health conditions affect the way we think, feel and behave. ‘Neurotic’ symptoms are severe or extreme forms of normal emotional responses (a little of something – or rather neither too little nor too much of something – can be healthy, when a lot of the same thing is not, just like it can be with e.g. electrolyte or blood glucose levels) – depression, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are the most common types of these mental conditions. Depression, anxiety and somatic (bodily) complaints are highly common and often present together that they’re often collectively called ‘common mental disorders’.
‘Psychotic’ symptoms interfere with the normal perception of reality – hallucinations, voices inside one’s head, feeling unrealistically powerful, irrational beliefs and reading particular meanings in everyday events are some examples. These severe mental conditions involving disturbances in perceptions, beliefs and thought processes are most commonly manifested as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. (Please never confuse ‘psychotic’ or ‘psychosis’ with ‘psychopathic’ or ‘psychopathy’, for which the latter is traditionally classified as a personality disorder. But it can sometimes be confusing because ‘psychopathology’ is a term for the study of psychological disorders in general rather than a term for the study of psychopathy specifically.)
There are also substance abuse disorders and dementia illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease. Neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease are often also considered mental disorders in terms of the psychiatric services they require too.
Unipolar depression and anxiety are the absolute most common mental health conditions. ~10% of people are affected in the world at any one time (the prevalence rate); many of whom will be severely and long-term affected, causing a big impact on their ability to get on with normal life. The rate of new cases is ~1% of the population (the incidence rate). ~25% of all people experience at least some form of mental health problem in any single year. ~10% of all children and ~90% of all prisoners have a mental health problem at any one time (whether this is an indirect cause for going or a direct effect of being in prison, or both, for an individual in prison). Note that bipolar depression is like unipolar depression except one experiences episodes of mania too i.e. ‘extreme highs’ as well as extreme lows. Bipolar depression, or bipolar disorder, used to be called manic depression.
One is 4-6 times more likely to have debt problems if one has mental health issues too (mental health problems can cause overspending, and being in bad debt can cause or exacerbate existing mental health problems, hence a bi-directional or vicious cycle); and 18 months can be added to clinical depression recovery time if one has financial problems too.
Children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have three main areas of difficulty – social communication, social interaction and social imagination. Other symptoms include a hypersensitivity to sensory information and disliking change (e.g. of routines or plans). Symptoms are very individual though. Autism is a neurological condition with a strong genetic basis. Far more males are diagnosed with autism compared to females but there could be a gross under-diagnosis of females with autism, possibly because they might be masking their symptoms in public better.
Autism and other mental conditions (or indeed some physical conditions) are difficult to place into clearly demarcated and mutually exclusive, black-or-white categories because genetics and environmental factors are either very finely quantised or analogue. It’s like e.g. someone can be 175cm tall or 175.1cm tall or 174.94cm tall etc. – there is a continuous analogue blend for height, and between ‘tall’ or ‘short’ are arbitrarily-determined lines, yet this doesn’t mean the terms ‘tall’ or ‘short’ can’t be useful. This is the same with almost any mental condition (or indeed what is deemed ‘normal’), except in most cases there are multiple genes involved (polygenicity), plus their multiple environmental interactions, which means there are continuous or near-continuous analogue blends of multiple factors/dimensions that combine complexly. And whether people are just ‘different’ or ‘disordered’ can depend on our cultures and efforts to accommodate diversity in our societies too.
Arbitrarily-determined lines are also why the key factor for a diagnosis of any mental health problem is ultimately whether or not one’s symptoms negatively impact the daily and greater function of one’s life over a chronic time period (usually over a few weeks) – so if this applies to you, please get it checked out. (It’s the same way that being ‘tall’ or ‘short’ is no problem whatsoever unless one personally has a problem with it – regardless of one’s absolute height and regardless of whether other people deem one as ‘tall’ or ‘short’.)
Mental disorders such as schizoaffective disorders and multiple personality disorders involve unhelpful voices, hallucinations and anxieties inside one’s mind, amongst other things. But once again, the difference between ‘normal’ (e.g. occasionally talking to oneself, having strange thoughts, imaginations or anxieties) and having a disorder is a matter of the extent of the behaviour and most of all how much it negatively affects one’s life. Such sufferers have feelings and perceptions that are removed from reality and that are overwhelming and chronic/recurring, and it’s again the result of a complex combination of both one’s genetics and environmental factors.
~1-2% of all people in the world experience a severe mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. All these above figures are most likely vast underestimates though because many people who live with mental problems or are developing one try to keep their feelings and symptoms hidden from others because they’re worried about the stigma and other people’s reactions to it and them.
Woof. Furrywisepuppy knows that if you think you’re alone – you’re not alone!