“Sometimes, the worst place you can be is in your own head.” Without our mental health, we have nothing. It’s nearly impossible to make it through life enjoying the little things if we do not monitor our mental status. Unfortunately, many people in the United States struggle with mental health disorders, but what makes it worse is the stigma that has surrounded it all these years. Many individuals do not feel comfortable seeking out mental health care due to being worried that their peers or family will think they are unstable.
The prevalence of mental health problems is evident throughout the United States, especially in cities such as San Francisco or Los Angeles, where they are dealing with a mental health epidemic. The homeless crisis plaguing the state is a result of compromised mental health in conjunction with a lack of access to treatment. Nearly 129,972 people are experiencing homelessness in the state, and studies indicate that more than 25 percent of those individuals report mental illness.
On a national level, mental health disorders affect approximately one in five adults (46.6 million) in a given year. In addition to those numbers, about one in 25 adults in the United States (11.2 million) experiences a severe mental illness that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. An estimated 1.3 percent of children ages eight through 15 will experience a severe mental disorder.
The most common mental health disorders affecting adults in the U.S. are schizophrenia (1.1 percent), bipolar disorder (2.6 percent), major depressive disorders (6.9 percent), and anxiety disorders (18.1 percent). Among the 20.2 million adults in the United States who experience a substance use disorder (SUD), 50.5 percent (10.2 million) had a co-occuring mental illness.
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The numbers indicate that stigma surrounding mental illness should be squashed, and those who do struggle should never do so in silence. Mental health treatment can significantly reduce costs to the United States, which costs the country $193.2 billion a year in lost earnings. Severe depression, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder are the third most common causes of hospitalization in the U.S.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and the 2nd leading cause of death for individuals aged 10 to 34. More than 90 percent of individuals who die as a result of suicide show symptoms of a severe mental health condition.
Our guide will go over the various types of mental health problems and the types of therapies that are commonly used. Remember, if you know someone is dealing with mental health problems, always reach out to medical professionals to help get you the treatment you need.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues to date, and can differ based on the situations or objects which can induce anxiety, but have common features of related behavioral disturbances like excessive anxiety. There are five major anxiety types, which include:
GAD is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, or tension when there is nothing to provoke it.
OCD is an anxiety disorder that consists of recurrent or unwanted thoughts or repetitive behaviors. Such repetitive behaviors include counting, hand washing, checking, or cleaning are performed in the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. When someone performs their “rituals,” it will only provide them with short-term relief, but not completing them will significantly increase anxiety.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that contains unexpected or repeated episodes of intense fear, which is accompanied by physical symptoms that include heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, or abdominal distress.
PTSD is the result of exposure to a terrifying incident where grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Those returning from war experience PTSD at a high rate, and children exposed to school shootings have been linked to the anxiety disorder. Other traumatic events that can trigger PTSD include car accidents, personal assaults, and natural or human-caused disasters.
Social anxiety disorders are characterized by overwhelming anxiety or self-consciousness in common social situations. Social phobias may be limited to one type of situation, like a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, eating or drinking in front of people, or in its severe form, can occur anytime the person is around others.
Mood disorders affect your general emotional state or distort mood, which is inconsistent with your circumstances and can interfere with daily functions. The individual can be sad or empty and have periods of depression that can be met with happiness (mania). Some examples of mood disorders include:
Major depressive disorder consists of prolonged and persistent periods of extreme sadness.
Often referred to as manic depression or bipolar affective disorder, it contains depression that includes alternating times of depression and mania.
A type of depression that is associated with fewer hours of daylight in the far north or southern latitudes from late fall to early spring.
A disorder that can cause emotional ups and downs that are less extreme than bipolar disorder.
A cycle of mood changes that occur during the premenstrual phase of a woman’s cycle and disappear with the onset of menses.
Depression symptoms can develop as a result of substance use, withdrawal, or exposure to certain medications.
For many people, mood disorders can be successfully managed with medications and psychotherapy.
As with most perceptions of mental illness, a common misconception of eating disorders is that they are a lifestyle choice. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders are serious and often fatal illnesses that are associated with severe disturbances in people’s eating behaviors, and related thoughts and emotions. Individuals that are preoccupied with food, body weight, and shape can signal an eating disorder.
The most common eating disorders include:
Those with anorexia view themselves as overweight, despite being dangerously underweight. Individuals with anorexia will weigh themselves repeatedly, restrict the amount of food they eat, exercise excessively, or use laxatives to lose weight. Anorexia boasts the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, and while many of those perish from complications associated with starvation, many will die of suicide.
Individuals with bulimia will have recurrent and frequent episodes of eating abnormally large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over the event. The binge-eating behavior is followed by acts that compensate for the overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, excessive exercise, fasting, or a combination of these together. Those with bulimia may be slightly underweight, average weight, or overweight. Bulimia can cause serious health concerns in those struggling with the disorder.
People with a binge-eating disorder will lose all control over their eating habits. Unlike anorexia or bulimia, binge-eating is not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. Individuals with this disorder are commonly overweight or obese. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States. Individuals often eat abnormal amounts of food in a two-hour period, eat when they’re full, eat fast, or eat until they’re uncomfortable.
Eating disorders can affect individuals of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, body weights, or genders, but frequently appear during the teenage years or early adulthood. The disorders can affect both genders, but rates among women tend to be much higher than men. Eating disorders are caused by a complex interaction of genetic, biological, psychological, behavioral, and social factors.
Treating the disorders we’ve discussed above can take shape in various settings, but it typically involves a team of counselors, psychologists, mental health aides, nurses, and peer support professionals.
Similar to addiction treatment, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will treat mental health. To ensure a healthy life is achieved, reaching out for treatment can change our outlook on life and how we move forward.
Also referred to as residential mental health treatment, this form of care takes place in a residential facility around-the-clock. The intensive level of care is better suited for those who require constant medical attention as well as those with severe, long-term symptoms who have not shown progress in less intensive care.
Outpatient mental health treatments are generally less intensive than inpatient and do not require the individual to live on-site at the treatment center. As an alternative, the client can visit the center or therapist’s office on specific days of the week. Outpatient mental health treatment is better geared toward those with:
A dual diagnosis treatment will offer mental health services for those struggling with their mental health, as well as a substance use disorder. A dual diagnosis treatment allows for both conditions to be treated simultaneously and focus on crucial needs.
Both disorders require treatment to ensure a full recovery. If a drug user has a co-occurring anxiety disorder, they have the potential to relapse due to their unmanaged anxiety. Treating both conditions allow the client to begin healing and maintain sobriety long-term.
Psychotherapy can effectively treat a wide range of mental conditions, and will be offered in both formats of treatment. There are many types of psychotherapy, which include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common and effective psychotherapeutic approaches. It can be used on the individual alone, in a group setting, or family therapy. CBT allows therapists to help their clients address unhealthy thoughts or behaviors and replaces them with realistic self-talk and constructive behavior.
DBT is routinely used to treat borderline personality disorder but has successfully treated other mental health disorders. It emphasizes accepting and validating your unhealthy thoughts, emotions, or behaviors, and learning to find a balance between acceptance and change.
This type of therapy allows clients to address problems in their relationships and teach new interpersonal and communication skills that allow for improving the quality of their relationships. Interpersonal therapy is used for couples counseling or individuals with depression who have difficulty empathizing with others.
Medications are commonly used in conjunction with psychotherapy to treat mental illness. Some medicines that are used include:
While antidepressants treat symptoms of depression, they can also be used for anxiety or insomnia. The most common types of antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
These medications offer relief to those struggling with the anxiety disorders we mentioned above, and benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed short-acting medications. The drugs are meant to be used short-term due to the potential for dependence and addiction. For this reason, many non-habit forming anti-anxiety medications can be prescribed in place of benzos.
These are commonly used for people with bipolar disorders and related mood disorders, and they stabilize mood to prevent significant swings, mania, and depression.
These are prescribed to treat schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, but can be used for bipolar disorder and regulate manic episodes.
Mood disorders. (2018, December 20). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mood-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20365057
Digital Communications Division. (2015, August 21). What are the five major types of anxiety disorders? Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/what-are-the-five-major-types-of-anxiety-disorders/index.html
Cognitive behavioral therapy. (2019, March 16). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610
Eating Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml