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Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental illness. 19.1% of people will experience anxiety disorder at some time in their life. Between 3 to 5% of children also experience these disorders.

Anxiety disorders have been linked to environmental causes, like trauma or stressful life events; genetic factors and chemical imbalances in the brain.

The term, anxiety disorders, is actually a category in which several diagnoses fell into. Examples of anxiety disorders include: panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, social phobia, and excessive compulsive disorder are the common anxiety diagnoses.


There are several different symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. Some of these symptoms can sometimes be confused with physical illness. Symptoms include:

  • Feelings of nervousness.
  • Excessive or ongoing worry.
  • Trembling.
  • Sweating.
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Sleep disturbance.


Medication management can be very beneficial in treating anxiety. Antidepressant medications have been shown to be successful in the treatment of anxiety. Anti-anxiety medications are also effective in treating anxiety, and typically only prescribed for short-term use, as there is an addictive property.

Therapy can also be helpful in learning how to manage anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapies can be very successful in learning how to work through the anxiety.

There are several things that can be done to manage anxiety. Things like relaxation exercises, deep breathing, and regular exercise are helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms.

Bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder, otherwise known as manic depression, is a serious brain illness that affects approximately 1% of the American population. The causes of bipolar disorder are not always clear. Bipolar is been linked to genetics and abnormal brain function or structure.

Anyone can develop bipolar disorder. This disorder typically starts during the late teens and early adulthood. Children can also have bipolar. There is no cure for bipolar at this time. People with bipolar disorder often experience unusual shifts in mood.

Bipolar is more extreme than the everyday ups and downs that people experience.

Bipolar can be very difficult to diagnose, some research shows that up to one half of all people living with depression, actually have bipolar.


Symptoms of bipolar disorder are typically separated into two categories, manic symptoms and depressed symptoms. Symptoms of mania include:

  • Excessive high mood.
  • Increased energy
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Extreme irritability.
  • Unrealistic beliefs about one's abilities or powers.
  • Reckless behavior.
  • Symptoms of depression include:
  • Persistent sad or empty mood.
  • Loss of interest.
  • Difficulty thinking.
  • Excessive crying.
  • Thoughts of suicide.
  • Feeling of hopelessness of guilt.
  • Decreased energy.
  • Change in appetite or sleeping patterns.

Sometimes behavioral problems can occur with these mood episodes. Sometimes people can engage in risky behavior like excessive gambling, risky sex or abusing alcohol and drugs.


Medication therapy can be very effective to stabilize a person's mood. There are different types of medication that can be helpful in the treatment of bipolar disorder, so it is important to work with a doctor to find medications that work. Talk therapy and support groups can be effective in leading to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder. These options can be helpful in learning how to change behaviors and manage life while coping with the symptoms.

Community-based recovery services can be very helpful for people with bipolar, to learn skills needed to be as independent as possible while learning to manage their illness.

People with bipolar can also do a lot to manage their symptoms by staying in a routine. It is very important to keep regular eating and sleeping habits and learning to recognize the shifts in mood.


Research has shown that major depression affects between 6.7% to 15% of Americans over age 18. While everyone experiences sadness or feelings of depression during difficult times in life, major depression, like other mental illness, is a serious medical illness that requires treatment.

Depression can occur at any age. Research shows that 2.5% of children and 4.5% to 8% of adolescents experience depression. Depression in older adults is underdiagnosed as symptoms are typically attributed to mental feelings of loss and grief. Research also shows that women are 70% more likely to experience depression than men.

While specific causes are unknown, research shows that depression is linked to genetic, biochemical, and environmental factors.

There are several forms of depression, including major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder and psychotic depression.


Symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty feelings.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness.
  • Irritability or restlessness.
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that once pleasurable.
  • Fatigue or decreased energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions.
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleeping.
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.
  • Overeating or appetite loss.
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment.


Medication therapy can be very effective treatment for depression. There are different types of antidepressant medication that can be helpful, so it is important to work with the doctor to find medications that work.

Talk therapy and support groups can be effective in learning to manage the symptoms of depression. These options can be helpful in learning how to manage life while coping with the symptoms.

Community-based recovery services can be very helpful for people with depression to learn skills needed to be as independent as possible while learning to manage their illness.


Schizophrenia is a chronic and disabling brain disorder that affects approximately 1% of the American population. Most people with schizophrenia have to cope with the effects of the illness the rest of their lives.

Symptoms of schizophrenia typically begin between ages 16 and 30. This disorder affects men and women equally, though. Men typically experience symptoms a little earlier than women. Schizophrenia does not typically occur in children, the awareness of childhood onset schizophrenia is increasing. Schizophrenia is seen in similar rates around the world.

Schizophrenia has been linked to genetic and environmental factors. People with schizophrenia tend to have different brain structure and brain chemistry than people without the disorder. Research has shown that there are environmental contributions, such as viruses and poor nutrition prior to birth.


People diagnosed with schizophrenia typically experience a combination of cognitive, positive and negative symptoms.

Cognitive symptoms include: difficulty using information to make decisions, difficulty paying attention, and difficulty using newly learned information.

Positive symptoms refer to a set of symptoms that people do not typically experience. Examples of positive symptoms include: hallucinations (seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, or smelling something that is not there), delusions (false belief that is held, despite evidence), felt disorder (ways of thinking, that are not usual or helpful), or disorganized speech.

Negative symptoms refer to a lack of important abilities including difficulty expressing emotions. This can sometimes look like depression. Examples include: speaking in a dull voice, lacking facial expressions, difficulty planning, lack of motivation and social isolation.


The most common treatment for schizophrenia is medications, specifically antipsychotics. The majority of people with schizophrenia experience symptom improvement with antipsychotic medications. There are many different types of medications used to treat schizophrenia, so it is important to consult a psychiatrist. Discuss medication options as well as side effects. People with schizophrenia can also greatly benefit from community-based recovery services. These services can assist with illness management, community integration, medication management, and improving vocational and social skills.

People with schizophrenia can also benefit from therapy or self-help groups. These options allow people to learn to cope with the illness and learn new skills.

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