Friday, July 24, 2015

3 Common Mental Health Disorders and What To Do About It

Read below to learn about generalized anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the various opportunities for treatment.

   Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) characterizes individuals who worry excessively about many aspects of their life to the point where worrying disrupts their daily life. While all of us worry about subjects such as money, health, or family issues, individuals with GAD may find themselves feeling dreadfully anxious about matters that most individuals feel no reason to worry about. This excessive amount of anxiety and concern sometimes keeps individuals with GAD from completing every day tasks.

Signs & Symptoms of GAD

   Unable discard concerns, even when the individual understands that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.
   Unable to relax and startle easily
   Difficulty concentrating.
   Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
   Physical symptoms that often complement the anxiety include: headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches fatigue, difficulty swallowing, twitching, trembling, irritability, lightheadedness, sweating, nausea, hot flashes, having to go to the bathroom frequently, and feeling out of breath.
   When anxiety level is mild, individuals with GAD can keep a job and function socially.
   Difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities if anxiety is severe.

GAD develops slowly. It usually begins during teenage years or young adulthood. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and typically are worse during times of stress.

2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, ADD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a fairly common childhood disorder that can continue through adolescence and adulthood as well. Symptoms may include difficulty focusing and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity. 

ADHD contains three subtypes:

   Predominantly inattentive
                        The majority of symptoms (six or more) are in the inattention category and fewer than six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present, although hyperactivity-impulsivity may still be present to some degree. 
                        Predominantly inattentive individuals are less likely to act out or have difficulties getting along with others. They may sit quietly, however they are not paying attention to what is going on around them.
                        It is important to note that parents and teachers may not recognize that a child has ADHD because children with this subtype are less likely to act out or have problems socializing. 
   Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
                        Most symptoms (six or more) are in the hyperactivity-impulsivity categories.
                        Fewer than six symptoms of inattention are present, although inattention may still be present to some degree.
   Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive
                        Six or more symptoms of inattention and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present.

Signs & Symptoms

Individuals who have symptoms of inattention may:

   Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
   Have difficulty focusing on one thing
   Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
   Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
   Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
   Not seem to listen when spoken to
   Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
   Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
   Struggle to follow instructions.

Individuals who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:

   Fidget and squirm in their seats
   Talk nonstop
   Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
   Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
   Be constantly in motion
   Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.

Individuals who have symptoms of impulsivity may:

   Be very impatient
   Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
   Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
   Often interrupt conversations or others' activities.

3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

It’s natural to feel afraid when we are in danger. This fear instantaneously triggers physiological changes in the body to either fight the danger or avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction intended to protect you from harm. However, in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the “fight-or-flight” reaction is changed or damaged. Individuals with PTSD may feel stressed, anxious, or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.

PTSD often arises after undergoing a traumatic experience where the individual felt they were in danger physically and/or psychologically. The person who develops PTSD may have been the individual who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a traumatic event that happened to loved ones or strangers.

Signs & Symptoms
PTSD symptoms are grouped into three categories:

1. Re-experiencing symptoms
   Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physiological such as sweating or a racing heart.
   Frightening thoughts.
   Upsetting dreams.

2. Avoidance symptoms
   Avoiding places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
   Feeling emotionally numb
   Feeling strong worry, guilt, or depression
   Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
   Memory loss of the traumatic event

3. Hyper-arousal symptoms
   Feeling tense or “on edge”
   Being easily startled
   Difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.

Children may react differently than adults
Symptoms of PTSD in very young children can include:
   Forgetting how or being unable to talk
   Acting out the scary event during playtime
   Acting unusually clingy towards a parent or other adult.


The methods of treatment described above may be used separately or in a combination based on the type of mental health disorder and severity of the disorder.


Psychotherapy is not as scary as it sounds. Another word you can use for psychotherapy is “talk therapy,” where a therapist helps patients understand their illness and gives them strategies and tools to deal with stress and unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Different forms of psychotherapy include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, family-focused therapy, expressive or creative arts therapy, and animal-assisted therapy.


Medications are utilized to treat the symptoms of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Medications work differently for different people. Two people with the same illness may take the same medication yet feel different side effects. Sometimes medication is used alongside with psychotherapy.

Brain Stimulation Therapies

Brain stimulation therapies activate the brain directly with magnets, electricity, or implants to treat depression or other disorders. Brain stimulation therapies encompass a wide variety of techniques utilized for many different disorders. Just to name a few, different forms of brain stimulation therapies may include deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.

To learn more about mental health disorders, or if you are concerned for a loved one, contact Capitol Care at their Alabama department of mental health. Do not face this difficult problem on your own. There are high hopes for recovery, and with treatment many individuals facing mental illnesses return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.


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