Mental Illness embodies a wide range of conditions--from the most common ones such as depression and anxiety to the more specific ones such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease. If you are interested in learning more about each condition in depth, check out MHA National's website. In this page, we will highlight several types of mental illness that individuals may be living with right now.
Schizophrenia is a serious disorder which affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. Someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary; may be unresponsive or withdrawn; and may have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations.
Contrary to public perception, schizophrenia is not split personality or multiple personality. The vast majority of people with schizophrenia are not violent and do not pose a danger to others. Schizophrenia is not caused by childhood experiences, poor parenting or lack of willpower, nor are the symptoms identical for each person.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in older people. A dementia is a medical condition that disrupts the way the brain works. AD affects the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Although the risk of getting the disease increases with age, it is not a normal part of aging. At present the cause of the disease is unknown and there is no cure.
It is estimated that currently 4 million people in the United States may have Alzheimer’s disease. The disease usually begins after age 65 and risk of AD goes up with age. While younger people may have AD, it is much less common. About 3% of men and women ages 65-74 have AD and nearly half of those over age 85 could have the disease
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a traumatic event. A traumatic event is a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood.
If you have gone through a traumatic experience, it is normal to feel lots of emotions, such as distress, fear, helplessness, guilt, shame or anger. You may start to feel better after days or weeks, but sometimes, these feelings don’t go away. If the symptoms last for more than a month, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
PTSD is a real problem and can happen at any age. If you have PTSD, you are not alone. It affects over 12 million American adults (3.7% of the adult population) in any given year.
ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. ”Amyotrophic” comes from the Greek language. "A" means no. "Myo" refers to muscle. "Trophic" means nourishment. So, amyotrophic means "no muscle nourishment,” and when a muscle has no nourishment, it "atrophies" or wastes away. "Lateral" identifies the areas in a person's spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates, it leads to scarring or hardening ("sclerosis") in the region.
Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. However, cases of the disease do occur in people in their twenties and thirties. Learn more about ALS by checking out our partner, ALS Association, below. Also check out our past symposium on ALS and other information about how to care for people living with ALS.
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