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Psychiatric Disorders: Depression, Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s Disease

There are many types of mental health disorders, also called mental illness, in which your mood, thinking, and behaviors are affected.

Psychiatric Disorders

There are many types of mental health disorders, also called mental illness, in which your mood, thinking, and behaviors are affected. An example of a mental illness might be depression, an anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, an eating disorder or an addictive behavior.

Mental health issues affect many people at times. A mental illness is diagnosed when the prognosis of signs and symptoms persists and interferes with the ability to function. When you suffer from a mental illness, you can be miserable and find it difficult to function in your daily life, including school, work, or relationships. Most of the time, medication and talk therapy (psychotherapy) can be used to manage symptoms.

Symptoms

It depends on the disorder, the circumstances, and other factors as to how mental illness manifests itself. Emotions, thoughts and behaviors can be affected by mental illness. Symptoms and signs include:
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sex drive changes
  • Incapability to handle daily stress or problems
  • Low energy, tiredness
  • Problems with alcohol or drug use
  • Sleep problems
  • Major changes in eating habits
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violence
  • Hallucinations
  • Detachment from reality
  • Feeling sad or down
  • Withdrawal from activities and friends
It is possible for physical manifestations of mental health disorders, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, and other unexplained pains, to contribute to mental health disorders.

Causes

Mental illnesses are thought to be influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors:
  • Inherited traits - People who have a mental illness in their blood family are more likely to suffer from it themselves. You might develop a mental illness because of your genes, or your life situation may trigger one.
  • Brain chemistry - Your brain and body contain natural chemicals called neurotransmitters that carry signals. The functioning of nerve receptors and nerve systems are altered when the neural networks involved in these chemicals are impaired.
  • Environmental exposure before birth - In some cases, mental illness can be linked to environmental stressors, toxins, inflammatory conditions, alcohol, or drugs during pregnancy.

Depression

A mood disorder such as depression is classified as depression. A person suffering from this condition experiences feelings of anger, sadness, or loss that interfere with their daily lives.Though grief and depression have some similarities, grief feels after the death of a loved one, and depression feels after a traumatic event. As opposed to guilt and self-loathing, grief isn't characterized by a loss of self-esteem or self-worth.

The pain of losing a loved one is often accompanied by positive emotions and fond memories. An individual with depression typically experiences symptoms throughout the day. The symptoms of depression may differ from one individual to another. Interfering with your daily work may mean losing valuable time and lowering your productivity. It may also affect certain health conditions. The following are conditions that depression can exacerbate:
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Arthritis
Knowing that you feel down sometimes is normal is important. Everyone experiences it at some point. A person suffering from depression will feel hopeless or depressed all the time.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of depression is feeling sad and blue all the time. Major depression is characterized by a variety of symptoms. Your mood may be affected and your body may also be affected. Some may last for months or years.

General signs

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to depression. In terms of severity, frequency, and length of time, symptoms can differ. The following signs and symptoms are often displayed by a depression sufferer almost every day for at least two weeks:
  • Crying a lot
  • Feeling bothered, angry
  • Talking or moving very slowly
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless
  • Feeling empty, sad
  • Getting anxious
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Thoughts of death, suicide
  • Weights changes
  • Changes in appetite
  • Decreased energy
  • Fatigue
Different types of depression can affect kids, teens, and adults.

The following symptoms may be experienced by males:
  • Temperaments, such as anger, aggression, irritability, and restlessness
  • Emptiness, sadness, or hopelessness, as well as feelings of well-being
  • Symptoms include exasperation, feeling tired easily, depression, suicidal thoughts, excessive drinking, using drugs, and committing high-risk behavior
  • Reduced sexual desire or low sexual performance can be a sign of low sexual interest
  • Deficits in cognitive abilities, such as difficulty concentrating, problems completing tasks, and delayed responses during discussions
  • A pattern of sleeping that is irregular, including restless sleep, insomnia, excessive sleepiness, or not sleeping through the night.
  • Fatigue, pains, headaches, or digestive problems are symptoms of a physical ailment
Women with problems with their reproductive system may experience the following symptoms:
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Feelings of sadness or despair, anxiety or hopelessness
  • A behavior such as withdrawing from social engagements, a loss of interest in activities, or thoughts of suicide
  • Slowness of thought or speech
  • Changing sleep patterns such as difficulty completing a night's sleep, waking up early, or sleeping too much
  • A decrease in energy, greater fatigue, appetite changes, weight changes, aches, pains, headaches, or cramping could indicate a decline in physical well-being
The following symptoms may be experienced by children:
  • Excessive irritability, anger, mood swings, or tears
  • Anger, for example, feeling incompetent, or despair, crying, or intense sadness
  • A pattern of behavior that involves getting in trouble at school or not going to school, avoiding friends and siblings, thinking about death or suicide, or self-harming
  • A decline in academic performance, difficulties concentrating, or poor grades are common signs of cognitive decline
  • Patterns of sleeping, such as sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
  • Changes in physical well-being, such as fatigue, digestive issues, changes in appetite, or weight gain or loss

Causes

There are several factors that contribute to depression. Biological as well as circumstantial factors can contribute to depression.

Among the causes are:
  • Brain chemistry - People who suffer from depression may have a chemical imbalance in parts of their brain that control their moods, thoughts, sleep, appetite, and behaviors.
  • Hormone levels - A person's risk of depression may increase when estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate during various periods like during a menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, during perimenopause, or during menopause.
  • Early childhood trauma - Events that occurred during your childhood can have an impact on your reaction to fear and stressful situations.
  • Family history - Depressive disorders are more likely to occur in people who have a family history of the disorder.
  • Medical conditions - The risk of stroke and heart attack is higher for people with chronic illnesses, insomnia, chronic pain, Parkinson's disease, strokes, and cancer.
  • Substance use - If you have abused alcohol or drugs in the past, you are at a higher risk.
  • Brain structure - If your frontal lobe is underactive, you have a greater risk of depression. Science doesn't yet know if depressive symptoms appear before or after this.
  • Pain - Depressive disorders are significantly more likely to develop in people who experience prolonged emotional or physical pain.

Schizophrenia

Psychologists define Schizophrenia as an abnormal way of interpreting reality. Schizophrenia may entail hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking, and abnormal behavior that can make it difficult for a person to function normally on a daily basis, and is often disabling. Schizophrenia sufferers need constant treatment. By addressing symptoms early, serious complications can be avoided and the long-term prognosis can be improved.

Symptoms

Schizophrenia is characterized by a range of cognitive, behavioral, as well as emotional problems. Delusions, hallucinations, or slurred speech are some of the symptoms of schizophrenia. They include:
  • Delusions - Those beliefs that are based on false information. As examples, you think you're being harassed or harmed; you have been gestured at or commented upon; you are exceptional or famous; you are in love with someone; or you think a major catastrophe is about to take place. Schizophrenia is usually accompanied by delusions.
  • Hallucinations - In these hallucinations, you see or hear things that do not exist. A person with schizophrenia has the same sense of force and impact as someone who is experiencing a normal life event. Hallucinations can affect any sense, and the most common is hearing voices.
  • Disorganized thinking (speech) - From disorganized speech one can infer disorganized thinking. Insufficient communication can result in incomplete or unrelated answers to questions. There are times when words are jumbled together that are meaningless and unintelligible, sometimes called 'word salad'.
  • Abnormal or disorganized motor behavior - From childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation, it can manifest in many ways. It's hard to accomplish tasks with behavior that doesn't focus on a goal. In addition to resisting instructions, inappropriate postures, a complete lack of response, or excessive movement, behaviors can also involve resistance to instruction.
  • Negative symptoms - A reduction in ability to perform routine tasks. For example, the individual might not maintain appropriate personal hygiene or seem emotionless (without making eye contact, without changing facial expressions, or with monotone voice). In addition, the individual may lose interest in daily activities, withdraw from social situations or fail to enjoy pleasure.
There are periods of worsening and remission of symptoms as the symptoms change over time. In some cases, symptoms can persist forever. The symptoms of schizophrenia typically appear in men between the ages of 20 and 30. For women, symptoms usually appear in their late 20s. Children with schizophrenia are rare, while schizophrenia is rare in adults over the age of 45.

Symptoms in teenagers

There are similar Schizophrenia symptoms in teens and adults, but teens may have a more challenging time recognizing the disorder. The reason for this is that some symptoms of schizophrenia seen in teenagers are also seen in teens who are experiencing typical teen development, such as:
  • Trouble sleeping
  • The performance of a student has dropped
  • Lack of motivation
  • Friends and family withdraw from you
  • Depressed mood
  • Performance at school declines
In addition, recreational substances, including marijuana, methamphetamines, and LSD, can also cause similar symptoms and signs.

Among teens, there is a higher likelihood of:
  • The likelihood of delusions is lower
  • Visual hallucinations are more likely to occur

Causes

Schizophrenia isn't known to have a single cause, but researchers believe that genetics, brain chemistry, and environment work together to cause it. Psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia are associated with an imbalance of certain brain chemicals, such as glutamate and dopamine. People with schizophrenia have smaller brains and a different central nervous system based on neuroimaging studies. Currently, scientists are unsure whether these changes in brain activity are related to schizophrenia, but they do suggest that it is.

Alzheimer's disease

There is a link between Alzheimer's disease and shrinkage of the brain (atrophy) and death of brain cells. An individual's capacity to think, act, and socialize is affected, which has a detrimental effect on their ability to function independently.

Symptoms

People with Alzheimer's disease tend to forget recent events or conversations. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, patients will slowly lose the ability to perform simple tasks and experience severe memory loss. With medication, symptoms may be improved temporarily or progression slowed. Alzheimer's disease patients may benefit from these treatments for a while, as they enable them to remain independent. Alzheimer's patients, their caregivers, and their loved ones can benefit from a variety of programs and services. Alzheimer's disease cannot be cured or altered in the brain of a patient. Dehydration, malnutrition, and infection caused by severe loss of brain function can result in death during advanced stages of the disease.

Memory

While everyone experiences occasional memory lapses, Alzheimer's disease results in increasingly severe memory loss, which is detrimental to both work and home life.

Alzheimer's patients may experience the following symptoms:
  • Repetition is important
  • Not remember conversations, events, or appointments
  • Place possessions in illogical locations, regularly misplacing them
  • The familiar will make you lost
  • Eventually lose track of everyday items and family members
  • Finding it difficult to identify objects, to express thoughts, or to participate in conversations

Thinking and reasoning

People with Alzheimer's disease have a hard time thinking abstractly and concentrating, especially when it comes to numbers. Multitasking is especially challenging, and managing finances, balancing checkbooks, and paying bills on time is also a challenge. A person with Alzheimer's may eventually have trouble dealing with and recognizing numbers.

Making decisions and judgements

In everyday situations, dementia makes it difficult for a person to make reasonable decisions and judgements. Someone may choose to dress inappropriately for the weather or interact with others in an uncharacteristic way. Having to deal with everyday problems, such as food burning on the stove or unexpected traffic, may be challenging.

Planning and performing familiar tasks

Activities that at one time were routine, such as preparing a meal or playing a favorite game, became challenging as the disease progressed. When Alzheimer's disease progresses, most people lose the ability to dress and bathe themselves.

Changes in personality and behavior

Moods and behaviors can be affected by the changes in the brain that occur in Alzheimer's disease. Here are some examples:
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Distrust in others
  • Mood swings
  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Wandering
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Delusions

Causes

In all serious cases, however, brain proteins fail to function normally, resulting in disruption of the work of brain cells (neurons) and a series of toxic events. Neurons are damaged and lose their connections, resulting in their eventual death. It is generally believed that Alzheimer's disease develops over time due to a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Alzheimer's disease is caused by genetic mutations in less than 1% of cases, making the disease virtually certain to develop. People tend to develop the disease in middle age due to these rare genetic changes. Brain damage usually begins in the memory-controlling region, but symptoms can appear years before the damage occurs. A certain pattern of loss of neurons can be expected to spread to other brain regions. When the disease reaches its late stages, the brain has significantly shrunk.

There are two proteins that researchers believe play a role in Alzheimer's disease:
  • Plaques - An amyloid protein fragment is a fragment of a larger protein. Clusters of these fragments may disrupt cell-to-cell communication and have a toxic effect on neurons. Amyloid plaques, along with other cellular debris, are formed by these clusters.
  • Tangles - An essential part of a neuron's support and transportation system is tau proteins. It is thought that tau proteins change form and form neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease. Such tangles disrupt transportation systems and are toxic to cells.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of pharmaguideline.com, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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