World Mental Health Day – Mental disorders I: General presentation

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World mental health day has been celebrated every year on 10 October since 1992. The World Federation for Mental Health, an international non-governmental organization, took the initiative of creating this day in order to raise awareness of mental health issues faced by people all over the world. Every year is marked by a different theme, such as Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention, Living with Schizophrenia, Mental health in the workplace or Depression: A Global Crisis.

This year’s theme is Move for mental health: Increased investment in mental health, being inspired by the difficulties faced by people during the pandemic. With the challenges faced by all categories of people, such as students whose anxiety and loneliness have been increasing as a result of losing contact with friends or family, workers who have been put under a lot of pressure and stress because of losing their jobs, or health-care workers who have been living with the fear of getting the virus, investment in mental health care is more needed than ever.

In order to celebrate World Mental Health Day, I want to raise awareness about the most common mental disorders faced by people all over the world. If we are informed about these disorders it will be easier for us to recognize those who may suffer from mental illnesses and encourage them to seek professional help.

Types of mental disorders

Mental diseases can be classified into several major groups which have some definitory characteristics, but many of these diseases have unique traits which are not appliable to the others, even though they are part of the same class.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders include Generalized anxiety disorder, Panic disorder, Social anxiety disorder, Separation anxiety, Specific phobias or Agoraphobia. This group of mental illnesses is characterized by a constant feeling of an overwhelming anxiety and fear, which interferes with the individuals’ ability to form relationships, with the job performance or with the ability to perform certain tasks in the daily life. The symptoms include panic attacks, heart palpitations, shortness of breath or inability to concentrate. There are several forms of treatment for anxiety disorders, such as psychotherapy or medication.

Mood disorders

Among the most common mood disorders are major depression, bipolar disorder or dysthmya. This type of mental disorders is characterized by an inconsistent or distorted emotional state. People suffering from mood disorders have either a persistent high mood, a major depressive episode or altering episodes of mania and depression. The symptoms differ in case of every disease. In case of depression, some common symptoms are breaking the eating and sleeping patterns, lack of energy, feelings of worthlessness, helplessness and guilt. For bipolar disorder some representative symptoms are agitation, risk-taking behavior, insomnia or abrupt and unusual increase in activity.

Psychotic disorders

Psychotic disorders include Schizophrenia, Delusional Disorder or Paraphrenia. This group affects the judgement of individuals, making them lose touch with reality. Those suffering from psychotic disorders may have hallucinations, which lead to their distorted perception of the world around them, or delusions, which make them unable to renounce their beliefs in spite of evidence or lead to them having paranoic episodes.

Eating disorders

Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa and Binge eating disorder are the most common in this group. They are defined by unhealthy eating habits, such as eating abnormal quantities of food in short periods of time, starvation or regurgitation. You can find out more about eating disorders here.

Personality disorders (PD)

Personality disorders can be classified in three groups: bizarre/eccentric (Paranoid PD, Schizoid PD, Schizotypal PD), dramatic/erratic (Antisocial PD, Borderline PD, Histrionic PD, Narcissistic PD) and anxious/fearful (Avoidant PD, Dependent PD, Obsessive-compulsive PD). They affect the individuals’ perception about themselves and about the others, their ability to respond emotionally or control their behavior. The symptoms are different in case of each disorder and most of the times they can be treated with the help of psychotherapy.

Dissociative disorders

These include Dissociative identity disorder/multiple personality disorder, Dissociative amnesia, Depersonalization/derealization disorder. This class is defined by a rupture between the individuals and their sense of self and involve problems with memory, perception and behavior. They can develop as a result of traumatic experiences and can be intensified by periods of extreme stress.

Impulse control and addiction disorders

Pyromania and Kleptomania are two examples of impulse control and addiction disorders. This group of disorders is characterized by the individuals’ inability to control their emotions and behavior in spite of interfering with the well-being of those around them. They usually appear during childhood and adolescence and can be treated through psychotherapy or medication.

Mental health is one of the most important aspects of our lives and should not be treated with indifference. With the occasion of World Mental Health Day, we should start making a priority from helping those who suffer and encourage them to make steps towards recovery.

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