In light of the tragic events that happened in Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012, the news and nation are focusing a lot on mental disorders.
According to the National Association on Mental Illness, “mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning.”
In order to be diagnosed with a mental disorder certain criteria must be met, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, more commonly known as the DSM IV. This manual is updated by the American Psychiatric Association.
Mental disorders range from the more common anxiety and depression to lesser known ones such as schizophrenia, bipolar and borderline personality disorder.
There are several factors that go into their development including genetics, upbringing, environment, life experiences, drug use, trauma, and certain medical conditions.
Severity of the condition depends on the person, and every person is different and is affected by different triggers.
Some mental disorders can be temporary, such as a depressive reaction to a divorce or death, while others are lifelong.
It is important to note that there are a number of successful treatment options for those who seek help, but the treatment will depend on the person and the condition.
The person who occasionally experiences anxiety may need short-term medication options or counseling for coping skills when a panic attack sets in. Others may need more serious long-term medication and counseling.
Testing for other medical conditions is important as well, such as Vitamin B12 or vitamin D deficiency, hormone imbalances, or a thyroid disorder.
It is also important to note that while millions can identify with some degree of a mental disorder, 1 in 17 Americans actually have a serious mental illness and it can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or ethnicity.
Help is available and there are a number of resources, groups and hotlines for those who need it. It just takes that first step.