Overview

Signs of mental illness

Mental illness takes many forms, ranging from depressed mood to personality disorders and even severe psychosis. Psychological illnesses should be taken as seriously as physical problems. Individuals who lose their footing due to mental illness are at high risk and require professional help.

The most common types of illnesses according to the World Health Organization (WHO) are:

Affective disorders: depression, mania, bipolar disorder and burnout

About 16 to 20 percent of all people are affected by mood disorders at least once in their lives. Their mood is either depressed and they are disinterested and joyless or they are in unusually high spirits (mania), with symptoms such as restlessness and having an exaggerated opinion of themselves. Bipolar disorder is characterised by alternating phases of depression and mania.

More information on the topics of depression and burnout

Personality disorders: borderline personality disorder and multiple personality disorder

Severe personality or behavioural disorders have different causes such as genetic factors, conditions of development or brain damage. Those affected have usually suffered since childhood from serious impairments which are perceptible in all areas of their lives, leading to frequent conflicts with other people or society.

Neurotic and somatoform disorders; stress-related disorders: anxiety and compulsive disorders, hysteria, hypochondria and traumata

Neurosis is a collective term for lots of minor mental disorders without any recognisable organic cause. A typical feature of the various clinical pictures is that behaviour is dominated by anxiety and compulsions. Whereas a stress-related disorder is always triggered by a specific negative event, other disorders can also be triggered by diffuse anxiety or exaggerated fears.

Addiction-induced mental illnesses and behavioural disorders

The consumption of drugs like alcohol, tobacco and medication can lead to addiction as well as mental illnesses and behavioural disorders. Examples include a compulsive urge to consume something, a lack of self-restraint, withdrawal symptoms or a disregard for one’s interests and obligations.

Psychoses: hallucinations, delusions and schizophrenia

Psychosis is a serious illness which manifests itself in a loss of contact with reality and a change in personality. The ability to think and to perceive what is going on around oneself is typically impaired. Unlike neuroses, psychoses presumably have physical causes.

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