About Mental Illnesses

What causes mental illnesses?

Causes for mental illnesses may be a combination of biological, chemical, psychological and environmental factors. At present, the causes are only partially understood. What is known is that some forms of mental illnesses are due to different types of abnormalities in the brain including the loss of nerve cells and excesses or deficits in chemical transmissions between neurons. The tendency to develop some specific mental illnesses may be due to heredity. Other causes may include psychological factors, environmental factors, such as infections, head injuries, and stresses.

Are there different kinds of mental illnesses?

Ther are over 100 different types of mental illnesses recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. The majority of people referred to Compeer have diagnoses that fall in the general categories of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia; affective disorders, such as bipolar disorder and major depression; and anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder. Each illness is characterized by a unique set of symptoms.

How many people are affected by mental illnesses?

Nearly half of all Americans experience a psychiatri disorder at least once in their lifetime. *In every given year, more than five million Americans suffer from an acute episode of mental illness. **One out of every five families is affected in their lifetime by a severe mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and major depression.

Are people diagnosed with mental illnesses violent?

NO! The media portrayal of people diagnosed with mental illnesses as exceptionally violent is simply not true. People diagnosed with mental illnesses are no more likely to be violent than the general public. In fact, people diagnosed with mental illnesses are much more likely to be victims of violentce rather than its cause.

Are mental illnesses treatable?

YES! Mental illnesses are treatable with different combinations of psychotherapy and medications. Some people recover completely while many others can lead active, productive, happy lives with ongoing treatment and support.

What are the warning signs of mental illnesses?

Signs are usually gradual and include:

Glossary of Mental Illnesses

*Taken from "Survey Sketches New Portrait of the Mentally Ill", The Wall Street Journal, Friday, January 14, 1994, Market Place, B1.
**Taken from National Institutes of Mental Health statistics, 2000.
* Taken from: Understanding Mental Illnesses, Channing L. Bete Co., Inc. (1989) & Helping Someone with Mental Illnesses, by Rosalyn Carter (1999)