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Explanation of Common Mental Disorders of Anxiety, Schizophrenia, Depression and Bipolar. Does Mental Illness Exist?

Updated on March 12, 2017

What Are Mental Illnesses And Do They Exist?

Firstly, we should note that there are many different types of mental illness and, to kill all stigma, technically, all of us "suffer" from these illnesses from time to time. For example, all people suffer from depression. It is simply that most of us do not experience severe symptoms of it. A mental illness is usually only classified as such when the severity of its symptoms affect the day-to-day life of the sufferer. Using such a standard, while some people may have more severe symptoms than others, these people may not necessarily be labelled as having a mental disorder if they are able to cope well with the dysfunction. A situation such as this truly begs the question of whether mental illnesses really even exist.

Mental illness range from personality disorders to psychotic disorders to mood disorders. This is an interesting point because all people experience both rapid and gradual changes in their personality, mental state and mood from time to time. We now examine the most commonly-known and confused illnesses of anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder.


The Realm of Anxiety Disorders

While fear and anxiety are parts of life that allow us to be more alert and cautious when the moment requires, for some people the anxiety never goes away. This can lead to the emotion taking control of their lives. Every action they may take would be under the power of this emotion and this leaves the person unable to lead a normal, fulfilling file. Furthermore, the disorder can lead to psychological issues due to excess stress being placed on the body and their body may not function as efficiently as it should. Anxiety disorders include:

  • Panic disorder - feels of fear or loss of control when there is no real danger
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder - frequent thoughts that manifest as obsessions which create a compulsive urge to do particular actions repeatedly
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder - Stressful thoughts and emotions brought about by a single or several traumatic past events
  • Phobias - a powerful "irrational" fear of a being or object that poses no significant threat

It is interesting such thoughts and feeling are characterised as mental illnesses as we all have them. As relating to phobias, some people deeply fear frogs and cockroaches but these animals would be quite hard-pressed to significantly maim a human in any way, even in large numbers. As relating to panic disorders, quite a few people feel huge amounts of fear and go into panic mode, may start hyperventilating and/or "freeze up" when they have to go and speak in front of a large crowd or even just being in the dark. As relating to OCD, most if not all people have particular habitual behaviours that they feel they must do, from something as subtle as twiddling their thumbs to something as overt as "needing" to run everyday.

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Schizophrenia Explained. Do We All Have It?

Schizophrenia is a very commonly misunderstood disorder and is often confused with bipolar disorder. At its core, Schizophrenia is the sensing of information that is not actually present. The word sensing is used meaning to obtain any information through the use of any of the human senses, the foremost being sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. Essentially, the sufferer is thought to be conjuring information up in his/her brain and believing the information to the real, factual and reliable. Since we use information from our sense to make decisions on what action to take, one can imagine how information that is not real can affect the decision-making of such an individual.

It is again worth stating the fact that all of us have sensed information that was later proven to be untrue. Some people see some numbers sometime during their day and are taken by the belief that these are lucky numbers that will win them the lottery. Some people claim to hear the Voice Of God or to have spoken to dead relatively and who are we to say they do not speak the truth. There is also the infamous line, "Did you hear that?" , when we think we have heard something but others in our immediate vicinity have not. Are we all schizophrenic? Or can we just accept that our sense may not function perfectly all the time?

Bipolar Disorder and Its Many Sides

Often confused with Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme changes in mood or emotional state. It is worth noting that this change can be very sudden or gradual. By such a definition one can say that we all "suffer" from Bipolar disorder. Also, contrary to popular belief, bipolar sufferers do often have "normal" moods in between their extreme emotional states. While Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder different origin, their effects can be quite similar. A state of emotional high or low(due to Bipolar disorder) and incorrect environmental perceptions(due to Schizophrenia) can both manifest in activities that threaten the health, life and well-being of the sufferer in various ways.

We go all go through emotional changes, sometimes extreme, sometimes sudden and sometimes gradual but we accept this as human nature rather than a flaw in our brains. In a sense, to label emotional change as a flaw would also be to label human nature as itself being fundamentally flawed. That is just some food for thought.

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Depression and Its Diferrence From Sadness

We all know of depression. All of us have experienced it at one or more times in our lives. As a medical illness, Depression is characterised by feeling "down", "empty" or sad. The feeling typically persists for more than a few days and may impair our judgements and overall perceptions of life events. Depression is encompassed by Bipolar disorder since it is one of the emotional extremes.

Depression is a relatively long-term emotional state, unlike sadness which usually comes and goes. We all go through some unwanted event that affects our lives in either a minor or major way. Some people may simply take more time than others to deal with the trauma but it would not be right to say something is inherently wrong with these persons.

Do Mental Illness Exist?

There are many different kinds of people that place great complexity in understanding the already intricate nature of the human mind. Even with all these differences, all of us humans experience the same thoughts and emotions only to different degrees and strengths. Some of us are better able to cope with problems and some of us may need a little help. It would appear that there are no real mental illnesses, only a continuum of humans some of who are able to cope with the pressures of life, and others who just can't handle the pressure.

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