Diagnoses and Illnesses

Glossary of Terms: Diagnoses and Illnesses

Anxiety Disorders commonly occur along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse, which may mask anxiety symptoms or make them worse. In some cases, these other illnesses need to be treated before a person will respond to treatment for the anxiety disorder. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as speaking in public), anxiety disorders last at least 6 months, cause people to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty and can get worse if they are not treated.

Bipolar Disorder is a chronic illness with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from one day to months. This mental illness causes unusual and dramatic shifts in mood, energy and the ability to think clearly.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an often misunderstood, serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image and behavior.  It is a disorder of emotional dis-regulation. 

Dual Diagnosis describes a situation in which a person is diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, both mental illness and chemical dependency.  Reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicate that roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by chemical dependency.

Major Depression is a serious illness affecting approximately 5-8 percent of the adult population in a given year. Unlike normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss or passing mood states, major depression is persistent and can significantly interfere with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, activity and physical health.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is classified as an anxiety disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.  PTSD symptoms usually start to occur directly after a traumatic event, but sometimes it can take months or years for them to show up.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects 2.4 million American adults over the age of 18.  The illness interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others.

Schizoaffective Disorder is one of the more common, chronic, and disabling mental illnesses. As the name implies, it is characterized by a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and an affective (mood) disorder.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a form of acquired brain injury that occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain.  Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain.

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