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Mental illness is a broad term that refers to several different types of mental disorders that significantly affect a person's thoughts, moods or behavior. There is no single definition, but generally, to be classified as a mental illness, the condition must cause enough distress or suffering to result in the inability to function in daily activities, work and social settings. There is also often the criteria that the condition is not expected to occur as part of a person’s usual culture or religion. The term “serious mental illness” (SMI) is sometimes used to refer to a more severe, long-lasting disorder, such as schizophrenia. The phrase “mental health problem” is used to refer to milder, more transient problems such as anxiety or mild depression. It may seem as if there is more mental illness in the world today, but mental illnesses have actually been recognized for thousands of years. More people seek help today than in the past and there are more medications to treat mental illness than in the past. Great strides have been made in understanding and treating mental illness, but there are still many unanswered questions. Unfortunately, there are also still widespread problems with stigma and discrimination because mental illness is feared and misunderstood by many people. However, just like physical illness, mental illness can take many forms and all mental illnesses are treatable. There are several campaigns underway today to try to change attitudes, as well as mental health services.
BR> Mental illness is based on the symptoms a person experiences and the clinical features of the illness. The main classes of mental illness are:

Psychotic disorders - These disorders impair your sense of reality. The most notable example of a psychotic disorder is schizophrenia, although other classes of disorders can be associated with psychosis at times.

Mood disorders - This includes disorders that affect how you feel, such as persistent sadness or feelings of euphoria. Mood disorders include clinical depression and bipolar disorder.

Anxiety disorders - Anxiety is an emotion characterized by the anticipation of future danger or an extreme feeling of being ill at ease. Examples include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, specific phobias and generalized anxiety disorder or GAD.

Cognitive disorders - These disorders affect your ability to think and reason. They include delirium, dementia and memory problems. The most well known cognitive disorder is Alzheimer's disease.

Developmental disorders - Developmental disorders cover a wide range of problems that usually begin to first make themselves known in early childhood or adolescence. They include autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities. Although they are under the same group, there is not necessarily a relationship among these disorders.

Personality disorders - A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of behavior that is dysfunctional and leads to distress or impairment, such as antisocial personality disorder.

Dissociative disorders - this is a type of disorder in which a person's sense of self is disrupted, such as when there are physical symptoms in the absence of a clear physical cause, such as hypochondriasis.


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