Throughout history, mental disorders have been regarded with fear, bias, and ignorance. Though medicine has drastically improved for the mentally ill in the last century, mainstream society still has a relatively uninformed and biased view against individuals with mental disorders. This is particularly harmful because every year up to ¼ of Americans fit the criteria for being mentally ill.
Media has done its best to show us the crazy sides of the mentally ill, but how crazy is crazy? If ¼ of the population is “crazy”, how dangerous is society? This list counts down the most life-interfering disorders, and explores how the individuals fit into our life.
Note: There are many other disorders, some similar to the disorders mentioned. All information is received from the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision”.
For more information about Mental Health please visit MentalHealthAmerica.org. Formerly known as the National Mental Health Association, they also have a crisis line 1-800-273-TALK that you can call if you, a friend, or a love one is going through a tough time.
10. Type One Bipolar Disorder
What It Is
Bipolar disorder has been talked about a lot. It has received vast media coverage and most individuals have at least a general idea of what it is. Bipolar disorder makes an individual switch between two main moods: mania (emotions like happiness and anger) and depression (emotions like sadness and guilt). Unlike the media interpretation, Bipolar disorder’s mood swings actually take a long time. Each swing lasts about a week on average, with a few days’ transition in between. Bipolar has been known to cause psychosis in some patients, but for the most part it manifests in irrational actions, heightened emotions, and lack of sleep during mania; and tiredness, aches, and lethargy during depression. Patients often have very little self control and are at the mercy of their moods.
How It Fits
2.6% of the adult population is bipolar. The disorder is genetic, and is generally easy to treat with medications. In some cases therapy isn’t needed. The biggest risk is unmedicated patients, who are often a harm to themselves (unmedicated bipolar disorder has a 25% suicide rate) and sometimes to those around them.
9. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
OCD is another widely known disorder, but few understand it. Firstly, OCD isn’t an obsession with cleanliness. It can manifest in being clean, but that’s only one aspect. Obsessive-Compulsive patients are often plagued with recurring thoughts, worries, and fears that can only be relieved by repeating tasks (cleaning, touching surfaces, making noises, etc.) Obsessive-Compulsive individuals can realize their fears are unreasonable, but the anxiety will keep mounting unless they relieve them by their repetitive tasks.
1% of adults have OCD. Psychiatrists haven’t figured out the cause of OCD yet, some think it may be caused by environments, others by chemicals in the brain. The treatment varies per patient, but is generally manageable through psychotherapy and certain medications. OCD patients are not really dangerous to others, but their lives can be difficult and their behaviors may seem odd.
8. Factitious Disorder
Factitious Disorder is an obsession with being sick. Unlike hypochondria, in which patients actually think they are ill, individuals with Factitious Disorder intentionally make themselves sick or play sick for attention. They often tell elaborate stories about medical complications, visit hospitals, tamper with their medications, and inflict harm upon themselves for attention.
Factitious Disorder is rare in adults, and occurs in less than .5% of the population. The disorder stems from past trauma. There is no cure or treatment for the disorder, though psychotherapy can be effective in limiting the behavior. Most individuals with the disorder are not receptive to treatment.