is Mental Illness?
illness is an illness that affects or is manifested in a person's
brain. It may impact on the way a person thinks, behaves,
and interacts with other people.
"mental illness" actually encompasses numerous psychiatric
disorders, and just like illnesses that affect other parts
of the body, they can vary in severity. Many people suffering
from mental illness may not look as though they are ill or
that something is wrong, while others may appear to be confused,
agitated, or withdrawn.
a myth that mental illness is a weakness or defect in character
and that sufferers can get better simply by "pulling
themselves up by their bootstraps." Mental illnesses
are real illnesses -- as real as heart disease and cancer--and
they require and respond well to treatment.
"mental illness" is an unfortunate one because it
implies a distinction between "mental" disorders
and "physical" disorders. Research shows that there
is much "physical" in "mental" disorders
and vice-versa. For example, the brain chemistry of a person
with major depression is different from that of a nondepressed
person, and medication can be used (often in combination with
psychotherapy) to bring the brain chemistry back to normal.
Similarly, a person who is suffering from hardening of the
arteries in the brain--which reduces the flow of blood and
thus oxygen in the brain--may experience such "mental"
symptoms as confusion and forgetfulness.
past 20 years especially, psychiatric research has made great
strides in the precise diagnosis and successful treatment
of many mental illnesses. Where once mentally ill people were
warehoused in public institutions because they were disruptive
or feared to be harmful to themselves or others, today most
people who suffer from a mental illness -- including those
that can be extremely debilitating, such as schizophrenia
-- can be treated effectively and lead full lives.
mental illnesses are described and categorized in the book
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth
Edition. This book is compiled by the American Psychiatric
Association and updated periodically. It can be purchased
through the American Psychiatric Press Inc.
the more commonly known psychiatric disorders are depression;
manic depression (also known as bipolar disorder); anxiety
disorders, including specific phobias (such as fear of heights),
social phobia, panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive
disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder; schizophrenia
and other psychotic disorders, such as delusional disorder;
substance abuse and disorders related to substance abuse;
delirium; dementia, including Alzheimer's disease; eating
disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia; sleep disorders;
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; learning disorders;
sexual disorders; dissociative disorders, such as multiple
personality disorder; and personality disorders, such as borderline
personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
from the American