Mental Health Disorders

What are mental health disorders? This page seeks to delineate the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders and elucidate the types of mental illnesses that prevail in society in an attempt to spread facts not rumours and add to our overall goal which is to spread mental health awareness and #breakthestigma.

According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), "A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above."


Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder which is characterized by an extreme fear of gaining weight, resulting in a distorted body image and abnormal body weight. People with anorexia nervosa go through psychological problems as well, they are prone to depression and low self-esteem. It is important to note that depression can be both, a cause, and a consequence of anorexia. If its the cause, it may worsen with time.

Suicide is the act of killing yourself, most often as a result of depression or other mental illness. Suicide’s effects are tragic and felt long after the individual has taken his or her own life. It is usually the second or third leading cause of death among teenagers and remains one of the top ten leading causes of death well into middle age. A person who dies by suicide leaves behind them a tangled confusion of family members and friends who try to make sense.


Anxiety is a type of emotional reaction to stressors, which can be different for different individuals. The American Psychological Association describes anxiety as “an emotion characterized by a feeling of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes.” Anxiety can take the form of restlessness, impulsiveness, avoidance behaviour, muscle tension, palpitations, intrusive thoughts and stress that is out of proportion. It is important to be able to demarcate anxiety and nervousness, as we often use the term “anxiety” to describe what actually is

Bipolar disorder is a disorder that is associated with extreme mood disturbances, ranging from depressive to manic moods, with normal mood episodes as well, depression in most cases tends to be the dominant state.

Bipolar disorder is of two types- Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Often people with bipolar also have other mental disorders such as ADHD, anxiety and substance abuse disorders. The risk of suicide is the highest in people with bipolar disorder, hence it is very important to seek professional help at the earliest. 


Dementia is defined as a syndrome, usually of a chronic or progressive nature, which involves deterioration in cognitive function (i.e. the ability to process thought) beyond what might be expected from normal ageing. It impacts thinking, memory, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgment. It does not affect consciousness.

Although age is known as the most common cause of dementia, it’s not true in totality. Furthermore, dementia is not said to have affected older people exclusively – the young onset of dementia accounts for up 9% of cases

.All the challenges, difficult circumstances and difficulties that we face put us to stress however if handled properly stress may increase one's possibility of doing better in certain situations. Too little stress may leave us unmotivated therefore some level of stress is essential and good for us. However, when the stress levels increase to an extent where it starts interfering without day to day activates and leaves us further dejected it can be considered harmful.

Stress can be defined as a negative emotional experience accompanied by an overt biochemical, physiological, cognitive, and behavioural changes. Stressful events that cause us stress are called stressors.


ADHD stands for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder found commonly in children where they have difficulties in focusing on their attention on a single object or task or situation and also have hyperactive behaviours like inability to sit or constant fidgeting or talking too much along with impulsive behaviours like hitting someone if angry. In adults, it is called an Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder ( OCD ) is a persistent and disabling condition and mainly involves intrusive thoughts about the thought process around that fact that some form of harm will occur if the individual does not perform those acts. The performance of these acts helps in reducing the anxiety surrounding them. OCD includes both obsessions and compulsions which have different characteristics. OCD is often one of the most disabling mental disorders and it often leads to a lower quality of life and functional impairment (Stein et al., 2009).

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Learning Disabilities are a group of disorders that affect an individual’s ability to comprehend and articulate written or spoken language, mathematical computations, movements, attention span and concentration. Learning disabilities can be neurobiological, they alter certain functions of the brain that affect the cognitive processes which aid learning. They inhibit the individual’s ability to process and retain information. Learning disabilities usually develop in childhood.


Depression refers to a group of conditions associated with the elevation or lowering of a person’s mood as described by WHO. In technical terms, depression is referred to as major depressive disorder(MDD) or unipolar depression. 
To understand MDD, it is firstly important to understand what a major depressive episode is. It involves a period of time, typically at least 2 weeks,  where an individual experiences sad or empty moods most of the day, nearly every day (APA, 2000).

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The substance-related disorder is characterized by taking an increased amount of drugs to overcome a growing tolerance and withdrawal symptoms the individual endures without a constant supply of drugs. In DSM-5, substance-related disorders include problems with the use of depressants (like alcohol, barbiturates and benzodiazepines), stimulants (like amphetamines, cocaine, nicotine and caffeine), opiates (like heroin, codeine and morphine) and hallucinogens (like cannabis and LSD).


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