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Maintaining your mental health has become far more challenging due to the stresses of modern life. Fortunately, because of modern campaigns bringing awareness towards mental health, help, and other resources have become widely more available. For your convenience, we have listed a summary of the more common mental illnesses we help clients with on a day-to-day basis.
It is important for victims suffering from mental illnesses to be diagnosed properly and to receive treatment from experienced professionals. If you believe that you or a loved one might be struggling with a mental illness, please call us at 972-820-6299 or contact us here to schedule a diagnosis.
Many of us go through moments of depression. Failing an exam, losing a good friend, and breaking up with a romantic partner are all examples of life events that can put us in a depressed mood. This can be a far more serious issue if it lasts for a long period, oftentimes trapping the victim in a downward spiral by affecting their ability to maintain relationships and fulfill responsibilities. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, depression affects three to four million men and affects nearly twice as many women and has been estimated as being the most common health condition in the United States back in 2002.
To be diagnosed with depression, the victim must be remarkably depressed (and/or show a loss of interest in pleasurable activities) for most of each day for at least two weeks. There must also be several other symptoms present ranging from cognitive symptoms (such as feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and thoughts of suicide), to behavioral symptoms (such as fatigue or physical agitation), and physical symptoms (such as changes in appetite and sleep patterns).
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Anxiety is an adaptive emotion that helps us plan and prepare for possible threats. But for some people, anxiety and worries about potentially bad things that may happen (including minor events) become chronic, excessive, and unreasonable. GAD can be defined as chronic excessive worry about several events or activities, with no specific threat present, accompanied by at least three of the following symptoms: restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and/or sleep disturbance.
To be diagnosed with GAD, the victim must constantly worry for at least 6 months and he/she must feel that those worries are difficult to control. The worry must also be about several different events or activities. People suffering from GAD oftentimes engage in subtle avoidance activities such as procrastination, constantly checking, or calling a loved one to see if he/she is safe. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a relatively common condition, and is twice as common in women as in men. GAD often co-occurs with other disorders such as panic disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and major depressive disorder.
Panic Disorder is defined and characterized by the occurrence of repeated unexpected panic attacks. To be diagnosed, the person must have experienced recurrent, unexpected attacks and been persistently concerned about having another attack for at least a month. A panic attack is usually accompanied by at least 4 to 13 symptoms, most of which are physical: depersonalization (a feeling of being detached from one’s body) or derealization (a feeling that the external world is strange or unreal), fear of dying, fear of “going crazy” or “losing control.” Other symptoms include heart pounding, sweating, trembling, choking feelings, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and chills or hot flashes. They are often brief but intense, reaching peak intensity within 10 minutes. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential because panic disorder oftentimes causes social isolation and reduces work productivity while also contributing to the development or worsening of various medical problems.
Some people have an intense yet irrational fear of some specific object or situation. They make every attempt to avoid the target of their fear, which can create unusual behaviors and challenges in everyday life. For example, a claustrophobic person may climb many flights of stairs or turn down jobs that might require them to take an elevator. This avoidance of phobic situations and recognition of the fear of being excessive or unreasonable are fundamental signs of the disorder. To be diagnosed, the person must also have had the phobia for at least 6 months and have marked distress about the phobia. Exposure therapy is oftentimes the best treatment for specific phobias. By slowly exposing clients to the target of their phobia for longer periods, the irrational fears begin to subside. Exposure therapy is highly effective when administered in a single long session.
Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder are well known for their manic (high excitement) and depressive episodes. Bipolar disorder occurs equally between men and women; usually manifesting in the early twenties and continuing throughout life. Relatives tend to run a higher risk of developing the disorder. Without treatment, people with bipolar disorder often go through devastating life events such as divorce, job loss, substance abuse, and suicide. Bipolar disorder can be further subcategorized into Bipolar I Disorder and Bipolar II Disorder based on the intensity of the manic episodes, but both require treatment by an experienced professional.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Most people who are exposed to plane crashes, automobile accidents, explosions, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, combat, sexual assaults, or other terrifying experiences show psychological shock reactions such as confusion and disorientation. Researchers now know that anyone, even children, can develop PTSD if they have experienced, witnessed, or participated in a traumatic occurrence-especially if the event was life-threatening. PTSD can result from terrifying experiences such as rape, kidnapping, natural disasters, war, or serious accidents such as airplane crashes. The psychological damage such incidents cause can interfere with a person's ability to hold a job or develop intimate relationships with others.
The clinical symptoms of PTSD include three main areas: Recurrent reexperiencing of the traumatic event through nightmares or intrusive memories; avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma (such as cars if the person was in a car crash) and emotional numbing; and increased arousal, which can involve insomnia, the inability to tolerate noise, and an excessive response when startled. The severity of symptoms may vary greatly, depending on the nature of the terrifying experience, the degree of surprise, and the individual's personality.