Mental illness is a very broad term that includes a wide range of medical conditions. These include common anxiety disorders to more rare and serious afflictions like schizophrenia. It is estimated that approximately 1 in every 5 American adults suffers from a mental illness – that’s 43.8 million people.
Symptoms of mental illness can start as early as 13 years of age, so it is very important to gain an understanding of how many different mental illnesses there are in order to address them quickly and accurately. Here are the top five most common (and most commonly misdiagnosed) mental illnesses everyone should know about.
1. Bipolar Disorder
This disabling psychiatric illness is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed, which is why so many people who suffer from bipolar disorder do not get effective treatment, only worsening the condition. Bipolar disorder often affects individuals early in life, which is why many people tend to go undiagnosed properly for many years. Bipolar disorder can be very difficult to manage for the person suffering from the illness directly, as well as family members and loved ones. Most people suffering from bipolar disorder seek treatment for common symptoms including mood disturbances which may be why bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed up to 69 percent of the time.
The onset of bipolar disorder is most common during adolescent years and if undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed, it can have significant negative effects on the development of interpersonal skills, education and earning potential over time. Bipolar disorder is one of the most important mental illnesses everyone should know about as misdiagnosis is common and patients have been reported to lead disrupted lives when left untreated.
This condition affects an estimated 350 million people all over the world. It is also a leading cause of global disability. Like any illness, depression can strike at any time and it does not favor any demographic. It affects everyone the same regardless of ethnicity, income or social status. Depression isn’t just sadness, or a lack of motivation to participate in regular activities. Depression is a very real, and very serious illness that is treatable, but can be difficult to recognize.
It is important to address any signs and symptoms of depression in order to find the right type of treatment and support. Some of the most common initial symptoms of depression include lingering “empty” feeling or mood, persistent pessimism, feelings of guilt or helplessness, loss of pleasure in treasured hobbies, feelings of fatigue, unexplained loss of memory, inability to concentrate, loss of appetite and even thoughts of suicide.
Many factors play a role in depression. While it can affect anyone at any age, this illness often begins during the teens and through the 20s and 30s. However, there are many different types of depression, with some affecting specific demographics. These include postpartum depression (a type that affects new mothers) and Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD (a type that hits only during winter months).
This is a condition that affects a large portion of the American population. It is estimated that about 1.1 percent of adults in the U.S. will suffer from schizophrenia in their lifetime. This chronic mental disorder is very serious and can make life very difficult for sufferers and their loved ones. It may even cause problems in the workplace.
Most people with schizophrenia will cope with their symptoms, but researchers are currently working on innovative treatment options. Some of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations of vision, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, delusions, thought dysfunction including lack of organization, agitated body movements, reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life and reduced speaking.
For some sufferers, schizophrenia symptoms are very subtle and mild but for others the condition can include more severe negative symptoms. Schizophrenia affects more men than women but occurs across all ethnic groups worldwide.
4. Anxiety & Panic Disorders
These are the most common types of mental illness in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 18.1 percent of adults over the age of 18 suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. Most people will simply suffer through their symptoms, chalking up anxiety to stress or day-to-day living. However, there are many different types of anxiety and panic disorders that leave people suffering in silence. These types of disorders can be caused by a variety of factors including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and lifestyle.
It is very common for those suffering from anxiety or panic disorders to also display symptoms of depression. Addressing the most common types of mental illness are important to keep sufferers’ symptoms from worsening.
Here is how you can help identify anxiety and panic disorders.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – Affects mostly women, and includes 6.8 million suffers in the U.S. – about 3.1 percent of the American population.
- Panic Disorder – Affects twice the number of men as women. 6 million suffers in the U.S.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – Affects men and women equally and starts around the age of 13. 15 million suffers in the U.S.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Affects twice the number of men as women. 2.2 million suffers in the U.S.
5. Eating Disorders
The term “eating disorder” can include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. All types of eating disorders are associated with a variety of adverse consequences that can range from mild to severe distress.
Symptoms range from adverse psychological and physical effects to severe social effects. Eating disorders can become very serious and may even become life-threatening over time. Here are a few of the most common symptoms of eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating): Extremely low body weight, distorted body image and self-esteem, lack of menstruation, brittle hair and nails, fatigue, dry and yellowish skin, acid reflux disorder, chronically inflamed throat and electrolyte imbalance.
Scientists are still working hard to find out what causes eating disorders, but they suggest that is a complex interaction of genetic, biological, psychological, and social factors. Treatments are available including brain imaging and even genetic testing to offer clues into how each person responds to this illness.
Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?
One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.
But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.