Facts  >   Common Types   |   Impact-Stigma   |   Stories   |    Intro/Home

Just the Facts : Types of Mental Illness

We urge you to seek professional advice as soon as possible if you have concerns about mental illness.
For more detailed descriptions go to the National Institute of Mental Health website.

What are some common types of severe adult mental illness?

Major depression is a disabling affective disorder that interfers with the individual's ability to work, sleep, eat, and/or enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such disabling episodes last at least two weeks and commonly occur several times in a lifetime .
: Persistent sadness, irritability, or 'empty' mood; profound changes in sleep and appetite; difficulty concentrating, thinking, or remembering; decreased energy, fatigue or being slowed down; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; loss off interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed including sex; thoughts of death, suicide, or suicidal activities; restlessness; persistent physical symtoms that do not respond to treatment.
How prevalent In any one year period, it affects 9.5% of the population or about 20.9 million American adults. Most do not seek treatment. The great majority of these people can be helped. Treatment can make a great difference and even save a life.
Effect on life: Although depression is usually first noticed during the teen or early adult years, a person can have an episode of depression at any age. Without treatment, an episode can last six months or longer..
Links: DBSAlliance.org, CBS CARES: Depression website-Mike Wallace Interview, Living with Major Depression.
Sources: NIMH, NAMI


Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly "high" and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.
ms for manic period: increased energy, activity, and restlessness; excessively "high," overly good, euphoric mood; extreme irritability, racing thoughts and talking very fast; jumping from one idea to another, distractibility, can't concentrate well; little sleep needed, unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers, poor judgment, spending sprees; a lasting period of behavior that is different from usual; increased sexual drive, abuse of drugs; provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior; denial that anything is wrong.
Symptoms of a depressive episode include:
Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood, feelings of hopelessness, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex; decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being "slowed down"; difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions; restlessness or irritability; sleeping too much, or can't sleep; change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain; chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical illness or injury; thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
How prevalent About 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the population age 18 nd older in any given year.
Effect on life: Most people with bipolar disorder—even those with the most severe forms—can achieve substantial stabilization of their mood swings and related symptoms with proper treatment. Medications known as "mood stabilizers" usually are prescribed to help control bipolar disorder.
Source: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bipolar.cfm#intro



Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder. People with schizophrenia sometimes hear voices others don’t hear, believe that others are broadcasting their thoughts to the world, or become convinced that others are plotting to harm them. These experiences can make them fearful and withdrawn and cause difficulties when they try to have relationships with others.
Symptoms: Symptoms usually develop in men in their late teens or early twenties and women in the twenties and thirties, but can appear in childhood. They can include hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking, movement disorders, flat affect, social withdrawal, and cognitive deficits.
How prevalent
: It affects about 1 percent of people all over the world.
Effect on life: According to the NIH, this is a hopeful time. The outlook for people with schizophrenia has improved over the last 30 years or so. Although the causes of the disease are not cleary determined, treatments can eliminate many of the symptoms and allow people with schizophrenia to live independent and fulfilling lives in the community. There are also ongoing clinical trials that people can find out about.
Source: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/healthinformation


"I couldn't touch any doors or counter tops in public areas. I knew it didn't make any sense, but I was terrified of getting germs that could kill me. I almost couldn't go out in public, I was so afraid. .... "
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
Symptoms: People with OCD may be plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals. They may be obsessed with germs or dirt, and wash their hands over and over. They may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly.. People with OCD may do these rituals for at least an hour on most days, or longer. Sometimes they miss school, work or meetings.
How Prevalent: 3.33 million adults are diagnosed. Most people are diagnosed by about 19 years. Medication and psychotherapy can help reduce anxiety and fear.
Effect on life: Effective treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder are available, and research is yielding new, improved therapies that can help most people with OCD and other anxiety disorders lead productive, more fulfilling and less fearful lives.

Please contact the National Institute of Mental Health for more information abut these topics at:
National Institute of Mental Health
Public Information and Communications Branch
6001 Executive Boulevard
Room 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesday, MD 20892-9663
Phone: 301-443-4513, 1-866-615-NIMH (6466) toll-free
TTY: 1-866-415-8051 toll free

sources: http://www.mentalhealthworks.ca,
National Institute of Mental Health

Proceed to the Impact of Stigma
  Return to previous, the Facts


Intro    |     Facts    |     Advocates    |    Consumers    |    Summary    |     Resources    |    Evaluation   
 Help    |    Sitemap    |    Contact

© 2007 sgenden

directions sitemap Contact facingstigma.org