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Recognizing Signs & Symptoms of Common Mental Disorders

Updated: Jun 16, 2019

Some Facts:

• Major Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide

• 1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental disorder at some point in their lives

• Approximately 50% of all mental disorders begin before the age of 14yrs


“If someone has a broken arm, you feel sorry for them. But when the problem is psychiatric, people don’t how to react because they can see anything. But just because you can’t see someone’s pain, it doesn’t mean they don’t need your care and support.”

Samoan woman with Bipolar disorder,

29yrs old, Auckland, New Zealand


Mental Disorder Definition:

Mental Disorders are conditions that are described as “clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndromes”. These disorders are characterized by symptoms that are distressing or impairs functioning in life arenas (social, occupational, educational, family and spiritual)


Mental Disorders may result in the following:

• Symptoms which are distressing

• Impairment of functioning in life arenas

• Impaired quality of life

• Increased demands on the family and society


Common Anxiety Disorders:

• Panic Disorder

• Phobias

• Simple Phobia

• Social Phobias

• Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

• Generalized Anxiety Disorder


Normal Anxiety:

• Some amount of anxiety is “normal” and is associated with optimal levels of functioning.

• Only when anxiety begins to interfere with social or occupational functioning is it considered “abnormal.”



Anxiety Symptoms:


SKIN: sweating, hot flushes, chills, paresthesias, tingling sensation, itching over skin of muscles


CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM: dizziness, unsteady, lightheadedness


PSYCHOLOGICAL: fear of going crazy, fear of losing control, fear of dying, depersonalization, derealization


CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM: palpitations, pounding heart


GASTROINTESTINGAL TRACT: nausea, abdominal distress



Seek Help:

1. Tell a supportive family member or friend

2. Speak with your primary care physician to first assess for a medical cause of the symptoms

3. Be referred to a psychiatrist for thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment

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