Mental health is a diverse topic and there’s a wide range of Mental disorders that affect people, (some of which are not even aware). In this article I want to address the most common disorders; A wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking and behavior.

Most common types: clinical depression, anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder

1. CLINICAL DEPRESSION

Also called: Major depression

A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterizes major depression can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms. These may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior or self-esteem. Depression can also be associated with thoughts of suicide.

Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness

  • Behavioral: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, restlessness, or social isolation
  • Sleep: early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep
  • Whole body: excessive hunger, fatigue, or loss of appetite.

Possible causes include a combination of biological, psychological and social sources of distress. It can occur for a variety of reasons and it has many different triggers. For some people, an upsetting or stressful life event, such as bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy and job or money worries, can be the cause. Different causes can often combine to trigger depression.

Increasingly, research suggests that these factors may cause changes in brain function, including altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain.

-Treatable by a medical professional

-Medium-term: resolves within months

-Requires a medical diagnosis

-Lab tests or imaging rarely required

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2. ANXIETY DISORDER

Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).

These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger or impact of the event, and can last a long time. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood.

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense.
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.
  • Having trouble sleeping(Insomnia).
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems.
  • Having difficulty controlling worry.
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

Behavioral: hyper vigilance, irritability, or restlessness

Cognitive: lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts

Whole body: fatigue or sweating.

 Several types of anxiety disorders exist:

Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.

Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.

Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations). These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they’ve occurred.

Selective mutism is a consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.

Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that’s excessive for the child’s developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.

Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.

*Substance induced anxiety disorder*; is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.

Other specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorder are terms for anxiety or phobias that don’t meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.

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Causes:

The causes of anxiety disorders aren’t fully understood. Life experiences such as traumatic events appear to trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Inherited traits also can be a factor.

Medical causes

For some people, anxiety may be linked to an underlying health issue. In some cases, anxiety signs and symptoms are the first indicators of a medical illness. If your doctor suspects your anxiety may have a medical cause, he or she may order tests to look for signs of a problem.

Examples of medical problems that can be linked to anxiety include:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems, such as hyperthyroidism.
  • Respiratory disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
  • Drug misuse or withdrawal.
  • Withdrawal from alcohol, anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) or other medications.
  • Chronic pain or irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Rare tumors that produce certain fight-or-flight hormones

Sometimes anxiety can be a side effect of certain medications.

It’s possible that your anxiety may be due to an underlying medical condition if:

  1. You don’t have any blood relatives (such as a parent or sibling) with an anxiety disorder.
  2. You didn’t have an anxiety disorder as a child.
  3. You don’t avoid certain things or situations because of anxiety.
  4. You have a sudden occurrence of anxiety that seems unrelated to life events and you didn’t have a previous history of anxiety.

Complications

Having an anxiety disorder does more than make you worry. It can also lead to, or worsen, other mental and physical conditions, such as:

-Depression (which often occurs with an anxiety disorder) or other mental health disorders.

-Substance misuse

-Trouble sleeping (insomnia)

-Digestive or bowel problems

-Headaches and chronic pain

-Social isolation

-Problems functioning at school or work

-Poor quality of life

-Suicide

Prevention

There’s no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you’re anxious:

Get help early; Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be harder to treat if you wait.

Stay active; Participate in activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good about yourself. Enjoy social interaction and caring relationships, which can lessen your worries.

Avoid alcohol or drug use; Alcohol and drug use can cause or worsen anxiety. If you’re addicted to any of these substances, quitting can make you anxious. If you can’t quit on your own, see your doctor or find a support group to help you.

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3. BIPOLAR DISORDER

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (Mania or Hypo mania) and lows (depression).

People with this disorder experience either of this two episodes alternatively;

a)  Manic episodes(Highs) may include symptoms such as high energy, reduced need for sleep and loss of touch with reality.

b) Depressive episodes (Lows) may include symptoms such as low energy, low motivation and loss of interest in daily activities.

Mood episodes last days to months at a time and may also be associated with suicidal thoughts.

Mood: mood swings, sadness, elevated mood, anger, anxiety, apathy, apprehension, euphoria, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities

Behavioral: irritability, risk-taking behaviors, disorganized behavior, aggression, agitation, crying, excess desire for sex, hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness, or self-harm

Cognitive: unwanted thoughts, delusion, lack of concentration, racing thoughts, slowness in activity, or false belief of superiority

Psychological: depression, manic episode, agitated depression, or paranoia

Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, you can manage your mood swings and other symptoms by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder is treated with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).

Symptoms

There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. They may include mania or hypo mania and depression. Symptoms can cause unpredictable changes in mood and behavior, resulting in significant distress and difficulty in life.

Bipolar I disorder You’ve had at least one manic episode that may be preceded or followed by hypo manic or major depressive episodes. In some cases, mania may trigger a break from reality (psychosis).

Bipolar II disorder

You’ve had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypo manic episode, but you’ve never had a manic episode.

Cyclothymic disorder

You’ve had at least two years — or one year in children and teenagers — of many periods of hypo mania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms (though less severe than major depression).

Other types. 

These include, for example, bipolar and related disorders induced by certain drugs or alcohol or due to a medical condition, such as Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis or stroke.

Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder, but a separate diagnosis. While the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder can be severe and dangerous, individuals with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for longer periods, which can cause significant impairment.

Although bipolar disorder can occur at any age, typically it’s diagnosed in the teenage years or early 20s. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and symptoms may vary over time.

Mania and hypo mania

Mania and hypo mania are two distinct types of episodes, but they have the same symptoms. Mania is more severe than hypo mania and causes more noticeable problems at work, school and social activities, as well as relationship difficulties. Mania may also trigger a break from reality (psychosis) and require hospitalization.

Both a manic and a hypo manic episode include three or more of these symptoms:

  • Abnormally upbeat, jumpy or wired
  • Increased activity, energy or agitation
  • Exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence (euphoria)
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distractibility
  • Poor decision-making — for example, going on buying sprees, taking sexual risks or making foolish investments
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Major depressive episode

A major depressive episode includes symptoms that are severe enough to cause noticeable difficulty in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships. An episode includes five or more of these symptoms:

  • Depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty, hopeless or tearful (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as irritability)
  •  Marked loss of interest or feeling no pleasure in all — or almost all — activities
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite (in children, failure to gain weight as expected can be a sign of depression)
  • Either insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Either restlessness or slowed behavior
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
  • Thinking about, planning or attempting suicide

Other features of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of bipolar I and bipolar II disorders may include other features, such as anxious distress, melancholy, psychosis or others.  In addition, bipolar symptoms may occur during pregnancy or change with the seasons.

Causes

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but several factors may be involved, such as:

Biological differences.

a) People with bipolar disorder appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain but may eventually help pinpoint causes.

Genetics. 

b) Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a first-degree relative, such as a sibling or parent, with the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing bipolar disorder.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder or act as a trigger for the first episode include:

  • Having a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, with bipolar disorder
  • Periods of high stress, such as the death of a loved one or other traumatic event
  • Drug or alcohol abuse

Complications

Left untreated, bipolar disorder can result in serious problems that affect every area of your life, such as:

  • Problems related to drug and alcohol use
  • Suicide or suicide attempts
  • Legal or financial problems
  • Damaged relationships
  • Poor work or school performance

Co-occurring conditions

If you have bipolar disorder, you may also have another health condition that needs to be treated along with bipolar disorder. Some conditions can worsen bipolar disorder symptoms or make treatment less successful. Examples include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Alcohol or drug problems
  • Physical health problems, such as heart disease, thyroid problems, headaches or obesity

Prevention

There’s no sure way to prevent bipolar disorder. However, getting treatment at the earliest sign of a mental health disorder can help prevent bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions from worsening.

If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, some strategies can help prevent minor symptoms from becoming full-blown episodes of mania or depression:

  • Pay attention to warning signs. Addressing symptoms early on can prevent episodes from getting worse. You may have identified a pattern to your bipolar episodes and what triggers them. Call your doctor if you feel you’re falling into an episode of depression or mania. Involve family members or friends in watching for warning signs.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Using alcohol or recreational drugs can worsen your symptoms and make them more likely to come back.
  • Take your medications exactly as directed. You may be tempted to stop treatment — but don’t. Stopping your medication or reducing your dose on your own may cause withdrawal effects or your symptoms may worsen or return.

Despite the mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don’t recognize how much their emotional instability disrupts their lives and the lives of their loved ones and don’t get the treatment they need.

And if you’re like some people with bipolar disorder, you may enjoy the feelings of euphoria and cycles of being more productive. However, this euphoria is always followed by an emotional crash that can leave you depressed, worn out — and perhaps in financial, legal or relationship trouble.

If you have any symptoms of depression or mania, see your doctor or mental health professional. Bipolar disorder doesn’t get better on its own. Getting treatment from a mental health professional with experience in bipolar disorder can help you get your symptoms under control.

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