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Types of mental disorder
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Types of Mental Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Feelings of tension, distress or nervousness include agorophobia, social phobia, panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Agorophobia

Fear of being in public places from which it may be difficult to escape. Includes fears of leaving home, entering shops, crowds, or travelling in trains, buses or planes. A compelling desire to avoid the phobic situation is often prominent.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Unrealistic or excessive anxiety and worry about two or more life circumstances for six months or more during which the person has these concerns more days than not.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessions are recurrent, persistent ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that intrude into the person's consciousness against their will. The person experiences these as being senseless or repugnant, but is unable to ignore or suppress them.

Compulsions are recurrent, sterotyped behaviours that are performed according to certain rules. The person often views them as preventing some unlikely event, often involving harm to, or caused by, him or herself. The person generally recognises the senselessness of the behaviour, attempts to resist it and does not derive pleasure from carrying out the activity.

Panic Disorder

The essential feature of this disorder is panic (anxiety) attacks that occur suddenly and unpredictably. A panic attack is a discrete episode of immense fear or discomfort.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A delayed and/or protracted response to a psychologically distressing event that is outside the range experience of usual human experience (i.e., outside the range of experiences such as bereavement, chronic illness, business losses and marital conflict). Experiencing such an event is usually associated with intense fear, terror, and helplessness. The characteristic symptoms involve re-experiencing the traumatic event (flashbacks), avoidance of situations or activities associated with the event, numbing of general responsiveness, and increased arousal.

Social Phobia

A persistent, irrational fear of being the focus of attention, or fear of behaving in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating. These fears arise in social situations such as meeting new people or speaking in public. A compelling desire to avoid the phobic situation may result.

Affective Disorders

A mood disturbance. Includes mania, hypomania, bipolar affective disorder, depression and dysthymia.

Bipolar Affective Disorder

Characterised by repeated episodes in which the person's mood and activity levels are significantly disturbed - on some occasions lowered (depression) and on some occasions elevated (mania or hypomania).

Depression

A state of gloom, despondency or sadness lasting at least two weeks. The person usually suffers from low mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy. Their sleep, appetitie and concentration may be affected.

Dysthymia

A disorder characterised by constant or constantly recurring chronic depression of mood, lasting at least two years, which is not sufficiently severe, or whose episodes are not sufficiently prolonged, to qualify as recurrent depressive disorder. The person feels tired and depressed, sleeps badly and feels inadequate, but is usually able to cope with the basic demands of everyday life.

Hypomania

A lesser degree of mania characterised by a persistent mild elevation of mood and increased activity lasting at least four days. Increased sociability, over-familiarity and a decreased need for sleep are often present, but not to the extent that they lead to severe disruption.

Mania

A disorder in which mood is happy, elevated, expansive or irritable out of keeping with the person's circumstances lasting at least seven days. The person may exhibit hyperactivity, inflated self-esteem, distractability and overfamiliar or reckless behaviour.

Self-assessed Health Status

Australians, both female and male, tend to be positive about their health. In 1995 over half of the adult population (55 per cent for females and 54 per cent for males) assessed their health as excellent or very good. These figures had declined slightly by 2001 to 53 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men reporting excellent/very good health.

By contrast in 1995, 17 per cent of both women and men said their health was fair to poor. By 2001, those figures had increased slightly to 18 per cent for both women and men.

 

Body Image

Body image is a description for how a person thinks and feels about his or her body.

We live in a culture which idealises fitness, (extreme) thinness and youth, across all types of media. In this environment it is difficult for many people to retain feelings of confidence and self esteem, if their body falls short of the perceived "ideal".

A person's existing negative body image can be further compounded by the confusion engendered by the modern retail shopping experience.

 

Young Woman - "20 Year Old Who Has Never Dieted to Lose Weight"

"I wish that size wasn't a marketing tool! So many shops 'play' with the sizing to fit their target market which is unfair and deceptive and to unsuspecting insecure females it can be tough. One of the worst feelings is to go into a change room with a 14 and have trouble! And have to admit you need a bigger size! Going in different shops can fluctuate 2-3 sizes".44

Eating Disorders

Negative body images may contribute to eating disorders.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two serious eating disorders. As the Department of Health's publication, What is an Eating disorder? outlines:

                                 Each illness involves a preocupation with control over body weight, eating and food.

                                 People with anorexia are determined to control the amounts of food they eat.

                                 People with bulimia tend to feel out of control where food is concerned.

                                 Anorexia affects two out of every 100 teenage girls, although the illness can be experienced earlier and later in life. Most people who have anorexia are females, but males also develop the disorder.

                                 Bulimia may affect up to three in every 100 teenage girls. More females than males develop bulimia.

                                 According to the Department of Health and Ageing, around 40 per cent of those with anorexia will later develop bulimia.45

                                 Many factors can contribute to the development of anorexia and/or bulimia. Psychological, biological and social factors are all involved. Social influences include the media who generally portray the desirable body as that which is fit and slim. Compounding this, large people are often stereotyped in negative ways, with a perception that they are greedy and out of control.

                                 Personal factors such as the onset of adolescence, child birth, the death of a loved one or a belief that love from family and friends depends on high achievement can contribute to the onset of an eating disorder.

                                 Biological factors such as chemical or hormonal imbalances can also be implicated.46

The physical effects of anorexia and bulimia can be extremely serious if not treated and can include:

                                 Damage to the kidneys

                                 Damage to the colon

                                 Seizures, muscle spasms or cramps (resulting from chemical imbalances)

                                 Strain on most body organs

                                 In severe cases, death.47

Anaemia

Why am I so tired48

Anaemia - Clinical Definition

Anaemia occurs when the concentration of the body's red blood cells, or the oxygen-carrying pigment contained in them, haemoglobin, falls below normal levels.49

Anaemia is a debilitating condition typified by a range of symptoms including:

                                 Fatigue

                                 Weakness

                                 Breathlessness

                                 Dizziness and faintness

                                 Racing heart or palpitations

                                 Concentration difficulties (due to a lack of oxygen flow to the brain).50

One of the most common forms of anaemia, iron deficiency anaemia, has particular impact on women. Iron deficiency anaemia is most commonly found in menstruating women, pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding.

According to Women's Health Australia:

Concern about iron deficiency among women arises from anecdotal and clinical evidence suggesting that it is a common problem. However, very little is known about the prevalence of iron deficiency or its effects on the lives of ordinary adult women. A very high proportion of women describe themselves as 'always tired' ... which illustrates the frequency of this syndrome.51

Women's Health Australia further notes that:

... a high proportion of Australian women are iron deficient and that the effects on well-being and ability to cope with everyday life are considerable.52

The Victorian Government reports that up to:

Around one in five menstruating women and half of all pregnant women are anaemic.53

If left untreated, severe anaemia can be a chronic and debilitating illness.

Contraceptive Practices

In 2001, the two favoured contraceptive methods for women aged 18-49 years and who were sexually active, were oral contraceptives (27 per cent) and condoms (23 per cent).

The popularity of different contraceptive methods varied over age-groups. For instance, of women aged 18-24, 43 per cent used oral contraceptives (as their preferred method) while another 36 per cent used condoms. In contrast, older women were more likely to rely on sterilisation to prevent conception. Of women aged 40-44, 22 per cent had partners who had been sterilised, while of women aged 45-49, 21 per cent had a sterilised partner and a further 21 per cent had had a tubal ligation/tubes tied.