In recent years I believe we’ve made excellent strides in starting to remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders. With awareness growing, sometimes it’s helpful to go back to the basics to make sure everyone is on the same page.
A mental health disorder is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Depending on the person and the severity of their particular disorder, this can affect their ability to relate to others and function in day-to-day life. Unlike some physical health disorders, mental health disorders can be invisible to the bystander, but they are anything but invisible to those who suffer from them.
The ways in which mental health disorders manifest themselves varies greatly, but here are some of the more common types of mental illnesses.
- Depression – This is more than just feeling sad. Depression is characterized by deep feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities one once found enjoyable. It will greatly affect a person’s ability to function in their daily life and if left untreated can lead to suicidal tendencies.
- Anxiety Disorder – Similarly to depression, simply worrying sometimes does not mean you suffer from a mental disorder. Those suffering from Anxiety Disorder find it hard to function in day-to-day life because of their worry and fears.
- ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental illness that affects a person’s ability to focus and causes them to struggle with hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
- Bipolar Disorder – This condition is characterized by intense mood swings that are either manic highs or depressive lows.
- Eating Disorders – Eating disorders are more than someone just wanting to lose some weight. They are actually serious mental health disorders because they cause a person to be obsessed with food and their body image that can lead to destructive behaviors affecting their physical health as well.
- PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder usually affects a person who has experienced a shocking or traumatic event like combat. The person may experience flashbacks triggered by something that remind them of the event and may make them feel unable to function in regular life.
- Autism – This condition is a serious developmental illness that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.
- OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder happens when excessive thoughts lead to repetitive behaviors. These behaviors may impair the individual from leading a normal life.
This list is by no means exhaustive and even if two people suffer from the same mental disorder, their symptoms may manifest themselves differently. But this list does help shed some light on how extensive mental health disorders can be—they affect us all directly or indirectly.
If you suffer from a mental health disorder, you’re not alone. If you don’t, it’s likely you know someone who does. We all have stakes in this fight, so let’s stand together to raise awareness and continue to work to remove the stigma surrounding those who suffer from mental illness.