specific mental health disorders

Specific Mental Health Disorders Affect Thoughts and Feelings   

      Mental health conditions affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, or behavior. Just like medical diagnosis, there are specific mental health disorders too.   Often severe stressful events or trauma lead to eating or personality disorders as a means of coping.

Two-faced happy sad woman manic depression or schizophrenia concept


     Some conditions are short term and happen only occasionally, while others are chronic and long-term disorders altering a person’s daily functioning.


   Mental Health and Mental Illness Not the Same

      Mental health and mental illness are not the same things. Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being and affects how we think, feel, and act.  It helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. People use the terms interchangeably, but a person can experience poor mental health without being diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person with a mental illness can have periods of good mental health.

Mental Illlness Carries Stigma

     Mental illness still carries a stigma that prevents treatment and discussion. It’s a serious problem in the United States and underfunded for treatment options. Most people do not realize that more than 50% of US citizens receive some type of mental illness diagnosis in their lifetime, with 25% experiencing an episode every year. Twenty-five percent of children experience a debilitating mental illness at some point in their life. Currently, in America, 1:25 people live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression (https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm)

Caregivers Provide Mental Health Support

     Often individuals with severe mental illness need family support. Family caregivers may rescue them from self-harm, provide them physical care, coax them into treatment, bail them out of jail, encourage them to make it on their own.  The struggles for mental health caregivers are as real and exhausting as it is for physical health caregivers.  Therefore, the following pages related to specific mental health conditions provide factual details about mental health conditions to help recognize them and clarify options. 

Mood Disorders


Major or Clinical Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depression) is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression.

Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa

People with anorexia nervosa may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. People with anorexia nervosa typically weigh themselves repeatedly, severely restrict the amount of food they eat, often exercise excessively, and may force themselves to vomit or use laxatives to lose weight.

Binge Eating

People with binge-eating disorder lose control over his or her eating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, binge eating does not purge, use excessive exercise, or fast. As a result, people with binge-eating disorder often are overweight or obese.

Bulimia Nervosa

In bulimia, eating binges may occur as often as several times a day for many months. People with bulimia regularly consume large amounts of high-calorie foods, usually in secret. People can feel a lack of control over their eating during these episodes.

Conduct Disorders

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

When a child’s behavior rises above the point of being strong-willed and challenging, the action may fall under the category of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. With this behavioral disorder, the child or teenager demonstrates a persistent and frequent pattern of anger, irritability, arguing, defiance or vindictiveness toward the parent or other authority figures.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the most diagnosed behavioral condition in children and is on the increase. However, a significant number of adults are also diagnosed with it annually. ADHD is a problem of not being able to focus (inattentiveness), being overactive (hyperactivity), not being able to control behavior (impulsivity), or a combination of these beyond the normal age-ability of the individual.


Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

Conduct Disorder

A conduct disorder is a severe emotional and behavioral problem in a child or adolescent that usually shows up by age 16. If left untreated, the child often moves on to antisocial personality disorder as an adult. Children with conduct disorders frequently behave in extremely troubling, socially unacceptable, and often illegal ways. However, they feel justified in their actions and show little to no empathy for their victims.

Anxiety Disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

Panic Disorder

People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that come on quickly and reach their peak within minutes. Attacks occur unexpectedly or can be brought on by a trigger, such as a feared object or situation.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in some people after they experience a traumatic situation. The fear triggers a “fight-or-flight” meant to protect a person from harm; however, in PTSD, the person continues to feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.


phobia is an intense fear of—or aversion to—specific objects or situations. Although it can be realistic to be anxious in some circumstances, the fear people with phobias feel is out of proportion to the actual danger caused by the situation or object.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive anxiety or worry, daily for at least six months, about numerous concerns such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday life. The fear and anxiety take over and creates significant problems in all areas of their life.

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