Mental health disorders are more common than people realize. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness yearly. This data confirms that mental health issues do not discriminate. Anyone, regardless of who they are or where they live, can experience a mental health problem or illness.
According to NAMI, mental health conditions are not the result of a single event. Researchers have linked mental health conditions to factors such as genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Mental health conditions can also be as different as the people who experience them, which is why it can be helpful to learn about some notable disorders and how to spot them.
Anxiety disorders. NAMI reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the U.S., affecting more than 40 million adults. There are various types of anxiety disorders, but they all involve a persistent and excessive fear or worry in nonthreatening situations. Emotional symptoms of anxiety disorders include feelings of apprehension or dread, feeling tense, jumpy, restless, or irritable, anticipating the worst, and looking for signs of danger. Physical symptoms may include a pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath, sweating, tremors, twitches, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, upset stomach, frequent urination, or diarrhea.
Bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder produces dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to think clearly. Bipolar disorders cause extremely high (mania) and low (depression) moods. NAMI notes that 83% of bipolar disorder cases are classified as severe. During an episode of mania, a person may rapidly become more irritable and their behavior more unpredictable, affecting their judgment, often resulting in impulsive, reckless decision-making. During a depressive episode, people may have difficulty falling and staying asleep, though some may sleep much more than usual. NAMI notes that even minor decisions, like what to eat for dinner, can seem overwhelming during a depressive episode.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD affects about nine million people in the U.S. Traumatic events like accidents, assaults, or serving in combat can create long-term responses, resulting in a diagnosis of PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD are typically classified in categories.
- Re-experiencing type symptoms. These may be recurring, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories, which can include flashbacks and bad dreams.
- Avoidance. People may avoid places or objects that remind them of the traumatic event.
- Cognitive and mood symptoms. Individuals may have difficulty recalling the event, negative thoughts about oneself, guilt, a feeling of numbness, and worry.
- Arousal symptoms. Hypervigilance can cause individuals to be intensely startled by stimuli that resembles the trauma.
No one is immune to mental health disorders. More information about these and other conditions is available at www.nami.org. Individuals who are experiencing a mental health issue are urged to contact a physician immediately.