Mental illnesses, also be referred to as ‘mental health conditions,’ is a broader terminology including not only mental illnesses but also common states of psychological distress, psychological disabilities, and conditions of individuals in which they could indulge in self-harm.
Whatever the stigma around mental health, psychology, and mental illnesses may be, they are an important point of concern. In fact, in recent years efforts have been made in the same direction.
However, one thing we need to keep in mind while moving ahead in learning about this topic is that even though it is said, and is true, that psychological disorders are common, we must be aware that they don’t happen to everyone, often we can spot symptoms in ourselves or our loved ones including both family and friends but that often doesn’t imply that we are suffering from a disorder.
Who doesn’t have a ‘crazy’ cell or two in themself, the fact remains that these present in significant amounts and upon producing serious effects point towards an actual disorder.
Types of Mental Illnesses
Now as identified by the International Classification of Diseases-10 (ICD-10), mental illnesses can be of several types. These types can initially be classified broadly based on commonality in the basic symptoms and then narrowed down specifically.
1. Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a feeling of intense worry, fear, and apprehension. People diagnosed with these disorders exhibit intense fear towards certain objects or situations and this is often even visible in a physical form.
You might be wondering if you have some sort of an anxiety disorder too, but this is the time when you should look back to the beginning of this text, it is natural to have anxiety, it is a very normal and human feeling just like happiness, hunger, sadness and so much more, what makes anxiety disorders stand out is that they involve a feeling of intense fear.
How to Differentiate Between Normal Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders?
If you spot these symptoms in yourself or someone you know, the person in question may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
- Anxiety interferes with your day-to-day functioning.
- You often have overreactions to situations.
- You can’t control your responses to situations.
Anxiety disorders can further be of various types like generalized anxiety disorder in which the person has random episodes of anxiety, specific anxiety disorder, which is directed towards a particular object or situation, or certain phobias.
2. Mood Disorders
These disorders are related to temporary states of mind better understood as moods. From children to teenagers, and adults- anyone can have these disorders however they are relatively difficult to diagnose in children as they may not be able to express themselves properly.
Common disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, and substance-induced mood disorder. Some symptoms common to most mood disorders are continued feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, relationship problems, problems with concentration, loss of interest in most activities, and even suicidal thoughts.
These mental health disorders usually require psychiatric diagnosis and treatment and people facing suicidal thoughts should especially make haste in seeking psychiatric assistance.
4. Psychotic Disorders
Several disorders come under psychotic disorders which are characterized by abnormal thinking and perceptions. These people seem to be a little distant from reality for example due to hallucinations and delusions. Confused thinking, strange behavior, slow movement, loss of interest in activities and personal hygiene, and detached behavior are some common symptoms of psychotic disorders.
Schizophrenia is a serious condition that affects how a person feels, behaves, and thinks. This can hamper normal functioning and creates a stressful situation for the person as well as his/her family and friends. Symptoms vary from case to case however, broadly they can be divided into three types- psychotic, negative, and cognitive.
People with these symptoms perceive and experience the world differently. They are not a part of the shared reality and view the world in a distorted way. A person with these symptoms could either be experiencing hallucinations, delusions, thought disorder, or movement disorder.
Hallucinations are episodes of experiencing stimuli that are not present for example a person could be hearing non-existent voices. In a particular case a person used to hear distant sounds of a carnival and always wonder where the carnival was going on while in reality, it was a hallucination.
Delusions are when a person has a strong belief that is either untrue or irrational. Delusions can further be of several types. Examples of past cases include a person thinking his family is plotting to kill him, and a person believing he is Superman.
In thought and movement disorders, patients exhibit abnormal thought patterns and body movements.
These symptoms include expressing fewer emotions, talking with a blank voice, loss of interest in usual activities, and having trouble feeling things. In severe cases, the person may even stop talking or moving completely for periods known as catatonia.
These are related to cognition and encompass all sorts of deficits in attention, concentration, and thinking. These people may have difficulty processing even simple information, and have problems with learning and retention.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness and requires proper medical attention and rehabilitation. With progress in developing treatment methods, patients can even go back to functioning normally, maintain interpersonal relationships, and have a professional life.
5. Impulse Control and Addiction Disorders
These disorders are concerned with people not being able to control urges for behaviors that may be harmful to themselves, others around them, or society in general. They include operational defiant disorder (ODD), kleptomania, pyromania, and conduct disorder. They often occur in adolescents and go undiagnosed i.e., the required help is not provided.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
The person is irritable and short-tempered. They challenge authority figures, break rules, may bully people, and blame others for their problems. Such behavior creates difficulties in their professional and social lives.
People suffering from this disorder steal impulsively and unnecessarily. Now this doesn’t mean that all thieves have kleptomania since a kleptomaniac person steals unnecessarily and a thief might be forced into burglary by his conditions. These individuals seem to feel some sense of satisfaction after stealing.
These people tend to go around starting fires. They have an obsession with fire and have a compulsive need to start fires. They feel a sense of relief after doing so.
People with conduct disorders are very aggressive. There is an increased risk of this aggression being displayed as aggression or violence towards people or animals, destruction of other people’s private property, violating rules, and stealing.
These disorders often occur along with substance abuse disorders in which people get addicted to substances like nicotine, alcohol, illegal drugs, or even legal drugs. Continuous drug abuse creates a need in the body to go on consuming as they tend to create a pleasurable state of mind.
The person’s body gets used to the substance and with time more and more amounts are needed for generating a similar feeling.
Impulse control and substance abuse disorders not only often occur together but also share symptoms like compulsion and obsession with the particular behavior, and the behavior is harmful to them, the people around them, and society in general. Rehabilitation and treatment are required for them, especially in instances of co-occurrence.
6. Eating Disorders
Eating disorders affect both the mental and physical conditions of the body. They commonly occur in teenagers but are not restricted only to this age group. Mental health care is required for them as they may hamper functioning and in severe cases may even lead to premature death. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating are the most common eating disorders.
In anorexia, the person gets obsessed with the thought that they are he/she is fat even though that may not be true, and indulge in self-starvation. People with bulimia go on eating a lot at once and at a very fast speed and then purge out of shame. The purge may be in the form of taking laxatives or vomiting. Binge eating is similar to bulimia with the only difference being that it is not followed by a purge.
7. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
It is a common and long-term disorder in which the person has an uncontrollable need to think about something(obsession) or indulge in a behavior(compulsion). In some cases, people may even have both obsession and compulsion. In simple terms, these are repetitive behaviors that also cause anxiety.
Obsessive people may be overly conscious about germs and need to keep things arranged in a particular manner. Compulsion is somewhat related to obsession such that the person must perform the behavior he/she is obsessed about. For example, cleaning, washing hands, and arranging things in a particular order. Monica from the well-known TV series Friends had an OCD for cleaning. In a particular case, a person had to switch any switch on a given number of times to avoid anxiety.
8. Personality Disorders
Personality is a term used to describe an individual’s nature and personal characteristics both physical and psychological. If a person’s thought process, feelings, and behavior, deviate significantly from societal expectations and cultural norms, it is known as a personality disorder. These usually develop in late adolescence or adulthood and can become permanent if not treated.
The American Psychiatry Association’s DSM-5-TR identifies 10 types of personality disorders. Common features of these disorders include feeling distressed or anxious, feeling worthless, being excessively angry, avoiding people, feeling empty and emotionally disconnected, having difficulty maintaining stable relationships, and getting detached from reality from time to time.
These disorders are seen to be associated with genetics and family history. Many patients diagnosed with these did not experience a smooth childhood and faced neglect, abuse, and abandonment. More often than not psychotherapy is enough for dealing with personality disorders.
9. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This is a disorder that develops after facing an extremely stressful and traumatic event like a natural disaster, accident, war, or rape. it is normal to be afraid in a fearful situation however, in PTSD this fear persists even after the end of the event.
The affected person may have nightmares, flashbacks, and episodes of extreme anxiety which may even occur in situations that are not dangerous. These people are usually on an emotional toll and tend to avoid places that could trigger reactions.
10. Stress Response Syndromes
These were previously known as and may be more easily understood as adjustment disorders. These occur when a person faces extreme difficulty in adjusting to a given situation. These situations could range from a significant loss, life change, or life event like marriage, moving to a new place, or the death of a loved one.
Some symptoms of stress response syndromes may overlap with major depression, yet they are different given that people with the latter experience changes in sleep, appetite, and energy levels amongst many other symptoms while these lack in the former. These are also different from PTSD as PTSD symptoms develop gradually and last longer.
Common symptoms of adjustment disorders include frequent bouts of crying, palpitations, anxiety, obsessive thinking about a particular situation, withdrawal from social activities, headaches, and even substance misuse. Besides increased stress can be harmful to efficient functioning.
11. Dissociative Disorders
They are mental disorders involving a disconnection from reality and discontinuity in thoughts and identity. This wandering away from reality is involuntary and unhealthy. People might experience a sense of disconnect with reality, and amnesia, develop an alternate identity and feel detached from themselves and their surroundings. This could happen after a significant traumatic or stressful experience.
Dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder is a known disorder thanks to our film industry. Even though it may seem comic, this characteristic is far from reality. An affected person develops two or more personalities that live inside his head. These personalities portray themselves at different times, have different names, and have different traits that even include their voice and gender.
Dissociative amnesia and depersonalization-derealization disorder are also dissociative disorders. In dissociative amnesia, the person abnormally forgets details of his own life like his identity and experiences, especially any traumatic experiences. Such a person might also have dissociative fugue which involves a random travel away from home.
A person suffering from depersonalization-derealization disorder is completely detached from himself, he seems to experience his own identity and life from a distance as if in the third person. Others may also seem distant or vague. Dissociative disorders require adequate psychiatric treatment which may include both psychotherapy and medication.
Some other less common mental illnesses include factitious disorders sexual and gender disorders, somatic symptom disorders, and tic disorders.
Mental Health Awareness in Recent Times
Mental health was taboo in the past. People suffering from these conditions were called crazy and even ‘witches’ in the Middle Ages. Even psychologists upon initial emergence were seen as doctors who treat the crazy; it was a field that was looked down upon. What we need to understand is that mental health conditions are as much of an illness as physical health issues and thus deserve equal regard.
Fortunately, in recent times awareness has been raised regarding mental health and its significance. People suffering from these problems must receive help and the stigma should be dealt with so that they feel comfortable in seeking treatment.
Counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists are three types of doctors that can provide help with what’s up with your mind. A counselor can usually provide help on a very basic level such as in rehabilitation centers, schools, and sports teams.
A therapist or psychologist is better qualified to provide talk therapy which helps in dealing with a plethora of mild disorders. A few serious disorders require medical treatment and even the administration of electric shocks which can only be provided by psychiatrists. Thus, the doctor to consult must be chosen accordingly.
How Do You Die of Mental Illness?
Now coming down to our topic question, how does a person die of mental illness? Is it possible to die instead of these? Well, the answer is yes. Unfortunately, many mental illnesses can lead to death if not treated properly. It is well known that depression can lead people to commit suicide in lieu which efforts need to be made for suicide prevention.
People with mental illness tend to live in a state of hopelessness, helplessness, or fear in an individual which could lead them to want to give up in life. There are yet other serious mental illnesses that can impair brain functioning so much that the person may become completely disabled leading to death. For example, a person suffering from schizophrenia, or some dissociative disorder may not be able to decipher reality appropriately or correctly.
Other than mental disorders, mental disabilities like retardation may also make life more difficult than regular for the particular individual leading to severe adaptational deficits and early death.
In conclusion, mental states, disorders, and mental health conditions, all are very important and deserve the kind of attention which has often not been given to them. Psychiatric patients must be treated with compassion and care to help them improve their condition and lives.
The stigma needs to be done away with and mental health care must be given as much regard as physical health care. Even the general population must be given access to mental health care providers and mental health services so that they are better able to lead to fulfilled and satisfied lives.