Mental disorders

  • Health
  • Sunday, 23 Mar 2003

BELOW is a short description of the main mental disorders: 



This typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. It is characterised by profound disruptions in thinking, affecting language, perception, and a sense of self. According to Crowe, some early warning signs include a marked change in personality, confused thinking or speech anxiety and panic. The person may hear voices or sounds that others don’t hear and may become irrational, angry or react fearfully to friends or family.  

Approximately 24 million people worldwide suffer from schizophrenia, and the disorder affects both men and women equally. However, it has been noted that women tend to develop it later in life. 

Recent research has focused on developing ways of detecting those suffering from schizophrenia in the very early stages because this increases the chance of early treatment, diminishing the risk of recurrence or serious residual damage. With modern drug advances and care, almost half of sufferers can expect a full recovery.  



Depression is a common mental disorder characterised by sadness, loss of interest in activities and by decreased energy.  

An estimated 121 million people currently suffer from depression. If depressive episodes alternate with exaggerated elation or irritability, then this is known as a bipolar disorder. 

Clinical depression is very different from the usual connotations of the word used in daily living. It is severe, and the duration is prolonged if treatment is not sought. In addition, there is a very real risk of suicide in clinical depression, an often unavoidable outcome of the illness.  


Substance abuse disorders 

This is increasingly being recognised as a mental disorder, and involves a number of conditions resulting from the use of psychoactive substances.  

These may include alcohol, opioids such as heroin, cannabinoids such as marijuana, sedatives and hypnotics, cocaine, hallucinogens and volatile solvents. The conditions include acute intoxication, harmful use, dependence and psychotic disorders. 

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