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The Divide

Updated on August 3, 2013

What is Mental Health?

Mental Illness, Mental Disorder

What is mental illness? It is damage to the brain's critical thinking, psychological and emotional processes. If not diagnosed early, people with this will become worse and not be able to fit into society. It causes depression, and other intense feelings also abnormal behavior. Mental illness can have a biological, psychological or emotional cause. Many people from different backgrounds can be afflicted with this disorder. People with mental disorders vary from the famous to the common man. There are also many types of disorders. There are mood disorders, neurological disorders and personality disorders. A mood disorder affects how a person feels at certain times and also what some one does because of these moods. Some people are naturally more moody than others, so this isn't always a problem. Personality types have something to do with how a person reacts to situations in life also. Someone's reactions to life are not the only determinate of whether or not he or she is mentally ill. Major changes in life, such as, the breakup of long term relationships or the death of a significant person in someone's life occur and can change our life. Reactions to this does not cause a mental illness. It is difficult to determine what causes this because the human brain is very complex. There have been improvements made in the discovery and treatment of mental illness. These discoveries have led to advances in the treatment and management of it. Today it can be managed with medicine, psychotherapy and behavior modification. If a situation in life happens and one is depressed continuously for more than 2 weeks, then there is cause for concern.

There are two classes of depressive mental illness:

  • Bipolar - a life long illness that is a mood disorder that must be managed, just like chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease. It has highs and lows in mood. It affects men and women equally.
  • Unipolar - nervous depression. A major depressive disorder.

UNIPOLAR disorder involves abnormal weight loss or weight gain, sleep disturbance (too much or too little), depressed mood and agitation. Also loss of all interest in activities once loved. There is no desire to participate in these activities or to engage socially. You may have unipolar depression if you experience these symptoms and you have not suffered the loss of a loved one or have had no recent illness.

A unipolar disorder is not caused by the following activities

  • Physical illness, alcohol, medication, or street drug use.
  • Normal bereavement
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Mood-incongruent psychosis (e.g., Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).

BIPOLAR disorder can be hard to diagnose because of the depressed phase that a person experiences with this disorder. If the sufferer is diagnosed at the time of depression, he or she may be considered to have unipolar or major depression.

Borderline Personality


Borderline personality and Bipolar Divide

Someone has Borderline Personality Disorder when he or she has difficulty managing their feelings and actions. Borderline means there is a probability of neurotic and psychotic behavior of this individual. People with this disorder have highly unstable actions resulting from out of control moods. The person with this disorder has a way of doing things that are 'over the top' that can cause harm to self and to others. Some sufferers have attempted and completed suicides or performed dangerous behaviors to extreme. They can be very erratic. BPD is a cluster B (dramatic) illness. One can experience a dramatic shift in emotions very rapidly. It can be confused with bipolar disorder because this illness can involve high moods with the accompanying high - risk, erratic behaviors. Their actions are very extreme. Borderline people have a harder time controlling emotions and actions with out therapy (medicinal as well as psychotherapy). People with BPD can be diagnosed as bipolar if they are diagnosed at the time of a low (depressed) period in life.

The person with a Bipolar disorder goes from a high state (manic) to low state (depression) and then to normal. The bipolar type can have extreme high and lows but have more control over impulses. The term bipolar is used because sufferers from this condition experience highs and lows in emotions. This person can have long stretches of normal behavior. On a normal period they function calmly. On a high, they are extreme in behavior and emotion. They are depressed during the low times. These episodes can last from a few days to several months. The difference between the borderline and bipolar symptoms is the time frame in which the episodes in these illnesses occurs. Those with Bipolar disorder are usually not as erratic emotionally, nor in their actions as people with Borderline disorder.

Advantaged and Disadvantaged

The lack of good medical care for those of us who are unable to pay for it is a cause of some concern. In a capitalistic society, you get what you pay for. If one cannot afford what he or she needs that can be tragic. There are programs that are put in place in different states to help those who are in need of and can benefit from them.

The so-called advantaged people of society have problems just like any one else. Mental illness can be an 'every man' disease. The human brain is so complex that any number of things can go wrong in the course of a normal life. Life is precious. Living situations are very uncertain at times. Dealing with these situations can be a challenge. Having a disorder that affects sociability makes this even more difficult. In any case, let us deal fairly with all people.

Kids and Adults

One does not think of mental illness and kids. This doesn't sound acceptable. If one still thinks of mental illness simply as an adult disease, children can be overlooked. Many people with borderline personality disorder were diagnosed as teens, having 'odd' behavior happen when they were toddlers.

It is surprising to know that a baby can have a mental illness. With the rise in children born to drug addicted parents, it's less of a surprise. Developing and growing can be problematic without adding this to the mix. So many things can go wrong naturally as well as environmentally with all of us. It is more common today than it used to be to diagnose children with a mental disorder or illness.

We can all live better in a lower stressed household. If our homes are meant to be true homes and not just places to inhabit, we should deal with emotional, physical and spiritual development of the young. In the case of clinical illnesses, we should use medicine as well as other coping strategies to deal with these illnesses. Care must be taken however to not over prescribe medicines to the young or adults.


Do you know someone suffering from mental illness?

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We and They

For those of us who have no mental illness, it can be a challenge to understand those who have. It is interesting how we can readily dismiss those who are different than we are. Over the years there has been an increase in the study and treatment of mental illnesses and disorders. We are moving away from institutionalizing the mental ill to treating them. Family support is crucial in helping all of us to cope with and be a part of society. This is no less true for the mentally challenged. This article has explored a topic that is not easy to understand. I hope it in some way helps us to better understand mental disorders and their effects on all of us.


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