Mental illness
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I work as a professional counselor with children, teens, and adults on various concerns such as domestic violence, trauma, abuse, dissociation, and personality disorders.

Often times, many are unfamiliar with the mental illnesses that professional counselors encounter on a day to day basis. So, I put together a quick guide of some of the more prevalent concerns I see using definitions from the DSM-5.

Depressive Disorders

  • Major Depression – Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day; fatigue; lack of interest in anything; insomnia; hypersomnia; feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt; significant weight loss; inability to concentrate.

Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders

  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 
    • Defined by effects of an extreme trauma, either by witnessing or experiencing the event. Events such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury (American Psychiatric Association, 2020).
    • PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms occur over 6 months after exposure to a traumatizing event. Symptoms include intrusion such as flashbacks; recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event; dissociation; avoidance of people, places, activities, and situations; concentration and memory problems; hyper-arousal, reactivity, and alterations in cognition; or how you perceive yourself in the world.
  • Acute Stress Disorder 
    • Similar symptoms to PTSD, yet only lasting from 3 days to one month after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.

Anxiety Disorders

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder 
    • Sometimes hard to diagnose because everyone experiences worry. However, GAD is defined by excessive anxiety and worry, occurring consistently for at least 6 months.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
    • Defined by a fear of social situations; exposure to possible scrutiny by others.

Dissociative Disorders

  • Dissociative Identity Disorder 
    • DID was once known as multiple personality disorder and is a reaction to being in a traumatic environment.
    • People will “escape” mentally to avoid bad memories and present with two or more distinct personality identities. Each with separate characteristics and personal history.

Personality Disorders (Cluster B)

  • Borderline Personality Disorder 
    • BPD is defined by unstable relationships; fear of abandonment; unclear or shifting self-image; often suicidal; self-injury; impulsive, self-destructive behavior; feelings of emptiness; explosive rage; manipulative and suspicious. These individuals experienced insecure attachment from caregivers.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder 
    • Those with NPD have an inflated sense of their own importance, are very self-absorbed, and selfish. It is found more commonly in men and it’s origin is unknown. Other symptoms include excessive admiration and attention, a lack of empathy, disregard for others, grandiose, troubled relationships, and a sense of entitlement.

Take-Home

Mental health should be taken seriously as seriously as we give attention to our physical health. If you or someone is struggling in any area of your life due to a mental illness, please seek out support and/or speak with a professional. No one should have to suffer in silence.

Thank you for reading. I hope to hear from you. Follow me on instagram here

Reference

American Psychiatric Association. (2020). What is PTSD? Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd