Mental health disorders are relatively common, affecting up to 20 percent of the population in any given year. They are usually viewed within what is referred to as the "Biopsychosocial Model", which acknowledges the three primary causative factors in mental illness. These are biological, whether inherited or encountered at a later date, psychological as in personal losses or psychological trauma, and social dimensions relating to personal networks and supports/deprivations. Inherited factors are thought to provide the background potential for neurological development, resiliency, and unique personal characteristics, which then must adapt to psychological and social as well as new biological stressors over the course of a person's life. Mental illness can range in severity from mild to moderate anxiety or depression, which is often treated with psychotherapy, to severe illnesses involving reality distortion and bizarre behavior, which are usually treated with medications and sometimes with hospitalization. Some of the more common mental health disorders are:
- Major Depression. Affects 120 million adults each year. Affects nearly twice as many women as men. Is treatable, but 2 out of 3 do not seek help. Can be a result of major illness such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, and in turn increases the risk of heart attack.
- Anxiety Disorders. Affects more than 16 million adults. Include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Often complicated by depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Often more than one disorder is present.
- Social Phobia. Affects 5 million adults. Women twice as likely although men more likely to seek help. Typically begins in childhood, rarely after age 25. Often accompanied by depression and may lead to alcohol and other substance abuse.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Affects 5 million adults. Women more at risk, but it has become a major concern among soldiers returning from war zones. Can affect any age group. Depression, anxiety disorder, substance abuse can accompany PTSD.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCDs). Affects 3 million adults. Affects both sexes equally. Social and economic losses resulting from OCDs total $8 billion a year.
- Bipolar Disorder. Affects more than 3 million adults. Affects both sexes equally. Studies have indicated a lifetime suicide rate of between 3 and 20%.
- Panic Disorders. Affects 3 million adults. Onset, usually in young adulthood (before age 24). Women twice as likely. Also likely to be depressed or with substance abuse problems.
- Schizophrenia. Affects 2 million adults. In men usually appears in late teens or early 20s, in women in their late 20s to early 30s. Affects both sexes equally. It is typically a chronic illness but 10 to 20 percent may go into remission.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Affects 3 to 5 percent of youths age 9-17 in any 6-month period. More boys (2 to 3 times) than girls are affected. Long-term impact on school work and social relationships. Untreated disorder can lead to negative social consequences..
- Suicide. 31,000 adults committed suicide in 2007. Almost all had a diagnosable mental disorder, most commonly depression or substance abuse. Men more likely than women. Rate doubles for U.S. male veterans. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds.
Mental health treatment programs include individual and group outpatient therapy, psychosocial rehabilitation, day treatment, case management, and hospital inpatient care. For more information on mental health, click one of the resource links below.
Developmental disabilities are a diverse group of severe chronic conditions that are due to mental and/or physical impairments. People with developmental disabilities have problems with major life activities such as language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living. Developmental disabilities begin anytime during development up to 22 years of age and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime. Common disabilities include:
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Cerebral palsy
- Hearing loss
- Mental retardation
- Vision impairment
People with developmental disabilities can live healthy lives. Many federal and federally-funded programs help people learn to live well with a disability. We list some of these efforts in the resource links below.
There are many addictive drugs, and treatments for specific drugs can differ. Treatment also varies depending on the characteristics of the patient. Problems associated with an individual's drug addiction can vary significantly. People who are addicted to drugs come from all walks of life. Many suffer from mental health, occupational, health, or social problems that make their addictive disorders much more difficult to treat. Even if there are few associated problems, the severity of addiction itself ranges widely among people.
A variety of scientifically based approaches to drug addiction treatment exists. Drug addiction treatment can include behavioral therapy (such as counseling, cognitive therapy, or psychotherapy), medications, or their combination. Behavioral therapies offer people strategies for coping with their drug cravings, teach them ways to avoid drugs and prevent relapse, and help them deal with relapse if it occurs. When a person's drug-related behavior places him or her at higher risk for AIDS or other infectious diseases, behavioral therapies can help to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Case management and referral to other medical, psychological, and social services are crucial components of treatment for many patients. The best programs provide a combination of therapies and other services to meet the needs of the individual patient, which are shaped by such issues as age, race, culture, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, parenting, housing, and employment, as well as physical and sexual abuse.
Medications, such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or neuroleptics, may be critical for treatment success when patients have co-occurring mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or psychosis.
Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, in many different forms, and for different lengths of time. Because drug addiction is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a short-term, one-time treatment often is not sufficient. For many, treatment is a long-term process that involves multiple interventions and attempts at abstinence.
For more information, click on the link below.