The Most Common Mental Health Disorders
1 in 8 people are believed to be currently living with a mental health disorder. While there are many different forms of mental health disorders, some are much more common than others. Below are some of the most common forms of mental health disorders, how to spot the symptoms and how to treat them.
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Generalised anxiety disorder
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is possibly the most common mental health disorder. It is a form of anxiety that is affected by lots of different triggers as opposed to just one thing.
People with GAD tend to worry a lot, and these worries can end up becoming draining and debilitating. It’s possible that you have GAD if:
- You get anxious about many different tasks and situations and feel constantly on edge
- Anxious thoughts are keeping you up at night and distracting you from tasks during the day
- Your worrying is having a negative impact on relationships, work or school
GAD symptoms can range in severity from mild persistent worrying to full-blown panic attacks. In all cases, it’s important to do something about it in order to stop it getting worse. It’s worth looking into professional treatment for anxiety if symptoms are severe. If symptoms are mild, you may be able to explore your own forms of anxiety relief such as breathing exercises, listening to music or taking herbal remedies. Do not turn to alcohol or drugs in order to treat GAD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
PTSD is another type of anxiety. It is triggered by a traumatic event which could range from childbirth to being a victim of a violent crime. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD.
Some of the symptoms of PTSD include:
- Constant nightmares and flashbacks of the traumatic event that keep you up at night and distract you during the day
- A fear of certain situations or places that is detrimental to everyday life (such as not wanting to get into a car after a road accident)
- Feelings of isolation or guilt that cause you to become morose and irritable
There are many treatments for PTSD that you can explore. Some people are prescribed antidepressants, while therapy is recommended for others. PTSD is often at its worst when the event is still fresh in one’s mind, but will usually gradually fade over time. However, for some people it can get worse over time – this is when you know that you need to get professional support. Solutions like support groups can be very beneficial.
Depression is not just sadness. It is a sense of resentment and hopelessness that lasts weeks or months. Depression is often triggered by certain events, however, those who have a history of it or family with depression may be prone to more random episodes.
You may have depression if:
- You are losing interest in things that once brought you joy and do not feel hopeful about anything
- You feel constantly tired and have no urge to look after yourself
- You have lost your appetite and your sex drive
- You waste away the day sleeping or find it difficult to sleep at all due to depressed thoughts
Like other mental illnesses, depression can vary in severity. Some people just feel constantly dispirited, while others can feel there is no point in living at all – which can lead to suicidal thoughts. While you should seek treatment in all cases, it’s particularly important to reach out if you are thinking of harming yourself. There are many ways to overcome depression including lifestyle changes (such as developing a strict routine and exercising), antidepressants, therapy and socialising with people whose company you genuinely enjoy.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects many people and involves obsessive thoughts and behaviours that end up negatively affecting everyday life. Unlike GAD, people with OCD often carry out specific rituals that seem excessive or nonsensical to other people. This could include routinely cleaning things that are already clean, checking that a door is locked multiple times every night or avoiding stepping on cracks in the pavement.
Not all obsessive behaviours are a problem. However, OCD is worth treating if:
- You find yourself missing appointments or are late to work/school due to lengthy OCD rituals
- Your relationships become strained because of your obsessive thoughts and behaviours
- Your physical health is being affected (for example, you’ve developed dermatitis from constantly cleaning your hands)
Therapy is the best way to treat OCD. Using professionally recommended techniques you can help to overcome obsessive thoughts and behaviours.