SEVERE MENTAL DISORDERS
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality.
Symptoms of schizophrenia usually starts between ages 16 and 30.
The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three categories:
Positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors not generally seen in healthy people. Symptoms include:
- Thought disorders ( unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking),
- Movement disorders (agitated body movements).
Negative symptoms are associated with disruption to normal emotions and behaviors. Symptoms include:
- Flat affect.
- Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life.
- Difficulty beginning and sustaining activities.
- Reduced speaking.
For some patients, the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are subtle but for others they are more severe and patients may notice changes in their memory or other aspects of thinking. Symptoms include:
- Poor executive functioning ( the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions).
- Trouble focusing or paying attention.
- Problems with working memory ( the ability to use information information immediately after learning it).
Treatments focus on eliminate the symptoms of the disease, they include:
Antipsychotic medications are usually taken daily in pill or liquid form. Some antipsychotics are injections that are given once or twice a month. Some people have side effects when they start taking medications, but most side effects go away after a few days.
These treatments are helpful after finding a medication that works. Learning and using coping skills to address the everyday challenges of schizophrenia helps people to pursue their life goals, such an as attending school or work. Individuals who participate in regular psychosocial treatment are less likely to have relapses or be hospitalized.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
People with bipolar disorder experience periods of unusually intense emotion, changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and unusual behaviors. These distinct episodes are called “mood episodes”. Mood episodes are drastically different from the moods and behaviors that are typical for the person. Extreme changes in energy, activity, and sleep go along with mood episodes.
Sometimes a mood episode includes symptoms of both manic and depressive symptoms. This is called an episode with mixed features. People experiencing an episode with mixed features may feel very sad, empty, or hopeless, while at the same time feeling extremely energized.
Treatment helps many people gain better control of their mood swings and other bipolar symptoms. An effective treatment plan usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Medication generally used to treat bipolar disorder include:
- Mood stabilizers.
- Atypical antipsychotics.
When done in combination with medication, psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. It can provide support, education and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. Some psychotherapy treatments used to treat bipolar disorder include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
- Family-focused therapy.
- Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.