Mental Disorders

What are mental disorders?

Mental health has many disturbances that are known as mental illnesses or disorders, which affect affective and cognitive processes, mood, thinking and behavior. Many people suffer from mental health problems from time to time. On the other hand, it becomes a mental illness when the symptoms and signs remain, cause stress in the patient and prevent him/her from functioning in a normal way.

Among the most common mental disorders are:

Anxiety disorders. We start from the fact that anxiety is normal in stressful situations. However, it is considered an anxiety disorder when the symptoms cause too much distress or severe functional impairment in the patient’s life, preventing him/her from functioning in his/her life. Within the anxiety disorders there are:

  • Panic attacks. Sudden onset of fear or terror, associated with feelings of death. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, malaise and palpitations.
  • Phobias. Many patients feel a fear that they cannot tolerate or control towards certain events, objects or animals. Thus, they suffer an irrational fear towards that stimulus, with an avoidance behavior. There are many phobias but among the most common are: phobia of some animals (snakes, spiders, dogs…), social phobia (it has nothing to do with shyness and translates into a fear of situations of social interaction), agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), phobia of flying in an airplane, driving a vehicle, elevators, payados, dentists, storms, blood, among many others.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It occurs when the person has been subjected to a traumatic situation that causes a psychologically stressful experience. Symptoms include nightmares, anger, emotional fatigue, irritability, etc.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It is a condition in which the person has intrusive thoughts, images or ideas. It is related to anxiety and associated with feelings of anguish, fear and continuous stress. Thoughts that cause discomfort and obsessions in the patient cause the person to perform actions or compulsions to minimize anxiety. Among these obsessive movements are continually checking something, counting, organizing things a lot, continually washing, repeating words…
  • Generalized anxiety disorder. Worrying about things is normal, but not when it is something that happens continuously and interferes in the person’s life. People with this disorder tend to worry about everything: studies, work, relationships, leaving the house and the possibility of having an accident, etc. This, as a consequence, causes sleep problems, fatigue, muscle tension, nausea…
See also  Lidocaine infiltrations

Mood disorders. These are also known as affective disorders. One of the most common is bipolar disorder, which can affect how a person acts, thinks and feels. It goes beyond mood swings and affects many aspects of life. It is difficult to treat without medication, as it is necessary to stabilize the patient and his or her mood. In moments of mania, he may even stop working, increase his debts, feel full of energy even if he sleeps only two hours, etc. In depressive moments, the patient may not even want to get out of bed. Among the mood disorders there is also depressive disorder. Although we can all feel down or sad at some point, when such feelings last for months and years, it is considered a mental disorder that can be very serious and debilitating for the patient.

Eating disorders. The most frequent are:

  • Anorexia nervosa. It is characterized by an obsession to control the amount of food eaten, restricting the intake by dieting, fasting and excessive exercise.
  • Bulimia nervosa. Characterized by abnormal eating patterns, with moments of massive ingestion and others of elimination of those calories with vomiting, laxatives… In addition, this disorder is associated with alterations in the brain (degradation of the white matter, through which many sets of natural axons pass).
  • Binge eating disorder. It is severe and is characterized because the person ingests large amounts of food and feels that he/she loses control while eating. Severe weight distress appears after binge eating.

Psychotic disorders. These are severe and the person loses contact with reality, having hallucinations and delusions. These include delusional disorders or paranoia (the person is 100% convinced of things that are not true) and schizophrenia (the person has hallucinations or disturbing thoughts, isolating him/her from social life).

See also  Gonorrhea

Personality disorders. These are disorders in the patient’s behavior that generate discomfort and difficulties in their relationships. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of the most frequent, affecting people with weak and changeable personality, as well as doubtful. In them, moments of calm can turn into anger, despair or anxiety. Characteristic symptoms include anger that cannot be controlled, efforts to avoid abandonment (real or imagined), alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation in interpersonal relationships, unstable self-image and feelings of emptiness. Another common disorder is Antisocial Disorder (ASD), psychopathy or sociopathy. It is characterized by the patient’s tendency not to relate to society. Symptoms include: aggressiveness, tendency to loneliness, violence, lying, etc. In addition, they are usually shy people, with depressive tendencies and social anxiety.

Mental disorders affect the affective and cognitive processes of the patient.

Prognosis of the disease

Mental disorders can affect the patient very negatively. They can make him feel bad and cause problems in everyday life: at work, at school and in interpersonal relationships.

Symptoms of mental disorders

The symptoms of mental disorders will differ according to the problem suffered by the patient, the circumstances that cause it and other external factors. Usually the symptoms can affect the patient’s behavior, thoughts and emotions, being the most common:

  • Feelings of discouragement and sadness.
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Confused thoughts
  • Emotional ups and downs
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Withdrawal from usual activities and friendships
  • Tiredness and low energy
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Delusions, hallucinations, or paranoia
  • Inability to cope with the problems or stresses of everyday life
  • Alcohol or drug abuse (sometimes)
  • Eating disorders
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Excessive anger or violence
  • Suicidal thoughts

Medical tests for mental disorders

To evaluate and diagnose mental disorders, the specialist in Psychology or Psychiatry (depending on the severity of the symptoms, the patient will be seen by one specialist or the other), must study the patient’s medical history. He will then perform a physical examination and, possibly, ask for blood tests, in case there is any other strictly medical condition that is causing the symptoms.

He or she will also perform a psychological evaluation, answering questions about your feelings, behaviors and thoughts.

See also  Psychotic disorders

What are the causes of mental disorders?

Mental disorders do not have a single cause and there are several factors that can influence your risk for them. Some of these are:

  • The patient’s genes and family history.
  • History of anxiety, stress or if the patient has suffered abuse during childhood.
  • Biological factors, such as chemical imbalances in the brain.
  • Traumatic brain injury.
  • Maternal exposure to viruses or chemicals during pregnancy.
  • Drug or alcohol use.
  • Suffering from a major illness, such as cancer.
  • Feeling lonely or isolated.

Can it be prevented?

It is difficult to prevent mental disorders. If the patient has a history of mental problems, it is important to see a specialist in psychology or psychiatry in order to establish treatment as soon as possible, so that the problem does not escalate and the patient does not feel worse. There are effective strategies to prevent the symptoms of some disorders, such as depression.

Treatments for mental disorders

The treatment of mental disorders depends on the type of problem the patient suffers from and the severity. The treatment must be 100% personalized, so it is very important that the specialist in Psychology or Psychiatry has an interview with the patient and establishes the best type of therapy that, in some cases, will be combined with medication, social support or education in some aspects. In severe cases where the patient suffers from a serious mental illness or there is a risk of harming himself or others, he may have to go to a psychiatric center. There the patient will be admitted and will receive counseling, group discussions and therapy with professionals who are experts in mental pathologies.

Which specialist treats you?

Who is in charge of treating mental disorders is the specialist in Psychology or the specialist in Psychiatry. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, you will be treated by one or the other. If the case is severe, it will be attended by the psychiatrist, who will be able to administer the most appropriate medication to the patient.