Mental Health Disorders: Overview
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) was once categorized as an anxiety disorder, but is now placed in its own category. Body dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder, trichotillomania, and dermatillomania belong in the same category.
OCD is characterized by having unwanted, repetitive, and persistent thoughts that are intrusive in nature. These distressful thoughts are either repressed or carried out by compulsions, which are repetitive actions in response to the persistent thoughts. These compulsions are carried out as a way to relieve the tension and anxiety brought on by the unwanted obsessive thoughts.
Signs and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder:
- Obsessive thoughts
- Fear of contamination
- Need for symmetry and order
- Intrusive sexual thoughts
- Intrusive aggressive thoughts
- Feelings of doubts associated with needing to check if the stove is on or the doors are locked, for example
- Concerns about losing or throwing away something valuable
- Concerns about losing or throwing away something valuable
- Fears about practicing sinful behavior
- Rearranging, balancing and ordering
- Asking for reassurance
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), similar to OCD, was previously categorized under anxiety disorders, but is now considered a Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorder. This category also includes reactive attachment disorder, disinhibited social engagement disorder, acute stress disorder, and adjustment disorder. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that involves severe anxiety, fear, flashbacks and negative thoughts after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Individuals who have been witnessed war, natural disasters, death, or physical or sexual assault are at risk of developing PTSD.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD
- Persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event via dreams, perceptions, images, hallucinations or flashbacks.
- Avoidance of triggers such as people, places, thoughts, and feelings that were associated with the traumatic event.
- Feelings of detachment, negative self-esteem, negative emotional states, and the inability to remember associated events.
- Marked changes in arousal and activity, such as irritable behavior, hypervigilance, increased arousal, reckless behavior, sleep disturbance, and concentration problems.
- Children with PTSD may exhibit signs of social withdrawal, parental attachment, excessive clinging, nightmares, and poor academic performance.
- Adolescents generally display the same signs and symptoms as adults.
Psychotic disorders are a group of mental health disorders that are characterized by distorted thinking and awareness making it difficult for individuals to use good judgment, communicate with others effectively, differentiate reality from fantasy, and behave appropriately.
- Schizophrenia: Auditory hallucinations (hearing voices) and delusions (false beliefs) are the hallmark of this disorder. Other symptoms of this disorder include disorganized speech, loss of interest, blunted emotions, memory problems, poor organizational skills and deficits in interpersonal relationships. Symptoms must last for the duration of at least six months.
- Schizoaffective disorder: The combination of a mood disorder and a psychotic disorder, without meeting the definition of each. Characterized by symptoms of depression and/or mania are coupled with symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Schizophreniform disorder: Similar to schizophrenia in that it includes the same symptoms; however, the duration of symptoms must last longer than one month but less than six months.
- Brief psychotic disorder: Characterized by the same symptoms as schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorders, but symptoms are present for less than one month and the individual makes a full recovery.
- Delusional disorder: When an individual suffers from delusions, which are defined as false, fixed beliefs involving real-life situations, such as being followed, being plotted against, or having a disease, for at least one month in duration.
- Shared psychotic disorder, aka folie à deux: When one individual in a relationship has a delusion and the other individual in the relationship adopts this same delusion.
- Substance-induced psychotic disorder: Characterized by the use of or withdrawal from drugs, such as hallucinogens and crack cocaine, resulting in hallucinations, delusions, or confused speech.
Impulse Control Disorders
Individuals with impulse control disorders are unable to resist urges, or impulses, to perform acts that could be harmful to themselves or others. Pyromania (starting fires), kleptomania (stealing), and compulsive gambling are examples of impulse control disorders.
Individuals with personality disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits that are distressing to the individual and others. These traits are usually ingrained from childhood or adolescence and carry into adulthood. As a result, they can be difficult to treat. These maladaptive patterns often will affect every aspect of one’s life, creating havoc in their personal relationships, home life, and occupational functioning.
Borderline personality disorder is the most common personality disorder, characterized by unstable and intense moods resulting in impaired impulse control and unhealthy behaviors such as cutting or disordered eating. These individuals usually have chronic feelings of emptiness, unstable relationships, unstable self-image, intense anger, and a deep fear of abandonment. The following are other types of personality disorders:
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
- Obsessive- compulsive personality disorder
An individual who is diagnosed with one or more mental health disorders, coupled with one or more substance abuse disorders, is known to have co-occurring disorders. Formerly referred to as dual diagnosis, co-occurring disorders affect approximately 8 million individuals in the United States. Individuals with co-occurring disorders are more likely to have impairments in daily functioning, and within their relationships and work life. Having two disorders also increases the likelihood of relapse in these individuals. Both disorders must be treated simultaneously, so one disorder does not linger and cause the individual to relapse.
Mental Health Treatment
Although there is no cure for mental health disorders, the symptoms can be reduced or even eliminated with the appropriate treatment regimens. The majority of mental health disorders are treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Many individuals may need to undergo long-term treatment, such as at a residential treatment center.
- Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder are generally treated with medications in conjunction with psychotherapy
- Personality disorders are treated with psychotherapy alone.
- PTSD usually requires specific forms of trauma therapy including trauma informed care and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Studies have shown that EMDR can also be used to treat eating disorders when a component of trauma is involved.
- Most mental health disorders will be treated with some form of family therapy, individual therapy, and/or group therapy.
In general, psychotherapy works towards the following goals:
- Identifying and managing underlying issues that trigger harmful behavior
- Learning coping skills to better manage distress
- Learning how to regulate and cope with unhealthy emotions
- Learning how to improve self-image and self-esteem
- Developing skills to improve relationships and social skills
- Developing healthy problem-solving skills
The following psychotherapy approaches are used to treat mental health disorders:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Identifies the negative thoughts, feelings, and distorted emotions associated with depression and anxiety, and uses behavioral techniques to transform these negative thought patterns into positive outlooks and positive actions. Behavioral techniques include self-control therapy, problem solving, and social skills training.
- Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT): Similar to cognitive-behavioral therapy, but also includes mindfulness and stress-reduction techniques.
- Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): Works to recognize the inner conflicts within oneself. Identifies conflict within personal relationships and inner feelings associated with self-esteem. Building relationships, learning coping mechanisms, and developing conflict resolution skills can help diminish these triggers and form positive behavior patterns in future conflicts.
- Eye movement desensitization (EMDR): An eight-phase treatment technique that includes brief, interrupted exposures to the traumatic event, and recalling the feelings and emotions associated with the traumatic event. The therapist determines which traumatic memory to trigger first and asks the individual to hold this specific memory and associated symptoms in their mind. Bilateral (left and right side) visual, auditory, or tactile stimuli are used to desensitize the intensity of the traumatic feelings.
Most PPO Policies Accepted
Insurance coverage for mental health
The majority of private insurance plans cover most treatment regimens for mental health disorders. There are a large amount of affordable generic medications that can be used for treatment in place of more expensive brand names. Always check with your insurance provider to ensure that your psychotherapy and medications are covered by your insurance plan.