Categories of Mental Health Issues: Causes & Effects

Instructor: Michael Quist

Michael has taught college-level mathematics and sociology; high school math, history, science, and speech/drama; and has a doctorate in education.

Sometimes our mind fails us. We become obsessive, or terrified, or even delusional, without knowing why. In this lesson, we will explore things that can go wrong in our mind, including why they happen and how they affect us.

What are Mental and Emotional Health Issues?

Mary stared at the pictures on the wall in the doctor's office. The letters 'OCD' appeared over a guy constantly checking his pockets. 'Depression' was depicted above a girl sitting on the floor, crying. 'Schizophrenia' accompanied a person whose head seemed to be coming apart. There were many pictures. Terror began to grow in her mind, as Mary realized that she was all of them.

Mental and emotional health issues are conditions of the mind or brain that negatively affect your thinking, emotions, and behavior. Five major categories of mental and emotional health issues include the following:

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety can be crippling

'I just can't go up there! I know I prepared for this speech, but I just can't face it. I'd rather take a zero for the assignment.'

Anxiety disorders involve a crippling level of fear, stress, and worry. Symptoms of anxiety disorder can take many forms, such as:

  • always being nervous, with no real reason
  • being constantly terrified of being humiliated in public
  • having intense, overwhelming panic attacks

No one knows for sure what causes anxiety disorders, but they are related to chemical imbalance in the systems of the brain that help you manage your emotions. Intense or prolonged exposure to certain kinds of stresses can affect brain chemistry, resulting in problems of this kind.

Left untreated, anxiety disorders can become crippling. Panic, pain, nausea, headaches, nightmares, unreasonable obsessions, and fear can reach such a state that you are virtually a prisoner of your own mind.

Mood Disorders

Depression can steal your life

'I just don't care about anything, anymore. Nothing matters. I don't even know why I get out of bed.'

Mood disorders are conditions where your mood tends to change dramatically, and interferes with your normal functioning. Your mood might periodically drop to a dangerous level of depression, or it might bounce up and down between elation and despair like a ping pong ball. Symptoms can include:

  • feelings of sadness, emptiness, or worthlessness
  • waking up at odd hours, or sleeping all day
  • unhealthy weight change
  • losing interest in the things and/or people you used to love
  • becoming restless or irritable
  • frequently thinking about death

Although the causes of depression and other mood disorders are unknown, an imbalance in the chemicals that control signal transmission in your brain affect it. Chronic negative thinking can induce depression. Low self-image can also cause it. Certain drugs or traumatic events can bring on mood disorders as well.

If depression or other mood disorders are allowed to run unchecked in your life, they can dramatically reduce your enjoyment and effectiveness in life. Disorders of this type can also create chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and/or heart trouble.


The schizophrenic sufferer begins to fragment

'Hello, police? This in the front...garage door...they're coming for me...I can hear's pink in the living room...grape's those voices, can you hear them?'

Schizophrenia (coined by a Swiss psychiatrist from the Greek words skhizein, meaning 'to split', and phren, meaning 'diaphragm, heart, or mind') is a condition where your self-control, thoughts, and emotions begin to break apart, and you start to lose touch with reality. It affects the way you speak, think, and perceive your world. You may see things that aren't there, or see things differently than they really are. You might hear voices. You might feel like you're being watched, or you might not feel anything at all.

Although the cause of schizophrenia is unknown, scientists have observed significant chemical imbalances in the brains of people suffering from the ailment. It may be partly hereditary (from your parents) and partly environmental (from things that happen around you).

Left untreated, schizophrenia can be devastating. Sufferers of schizophrenia can become extremely destructive to themselves, and often become substance abusers as they try to deal with their symptoms, which tend to get worse over time. Doctors have no methods for treating the illness, but they can attack the symptoms, allowing sufferers to return to some level of normalcy.


Dementia can steal your memories

'I'm sorry, who are you again?'

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