Schizophrenia is a serious and challenging medical illness, an illness that affects well over 2 million American adults, which is about 1 percent of the population age 18 and older. Although it is often feared and misunderstood, schizophrenia is a treatable medical condition.
Schizophrenia often interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, to distinguish reality from fantasy, to manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others. The first signs of schizophrenia typically emerge in the teenage years or early twenties, often later for females. Most people with schizophrenia contend with the illness chronically or episodically throughout their lives, and are often stigmatized by lack of public understanding about the disease. Schizophrenia is not caused by bad parenting or personal weakness. A person with schizophrenia does not have a “split personality,” and almost all people with schizophrenia are not dangerous or violent towards others while they are receiving treatment. The World Health Organization has identified schizophrenia as one of the ten most debilitating diseases affecting human beings.Your Read More Link Text
Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is a medical illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. These changes may be subtle or dramatic and typically vary greatly over the course of a person’s life as well as among individuals. Over 10 million people in America have bipolar disorder, and the illness affects men and women equally. Bipolar disorder is a chronic and generally life-long condition with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from days to months that often begin in adolescence or early adulthood, and occasionally even in children. Most people generally require some sort of lifelong treatment. While medication is one key element in successful treatment of bipolar disorder, psychotherapy, support, and education about the illness are also essential components of the treatment process.Your Read More Link Text
Major depression is a serious medical illness affecting 9.9 million American adults, or approximately 5 percent of the adult population in a given year. Unlike normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss, or passing mood states, major depression is persistent and can significantly interfere with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, activity, and physical health. Among all medical illnesses, major depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and many other developed countries.Your Read More Link Text
Schizoaffective disorder is one of the more common, chronic, and disabling mental illnesses. As the name implies, it is characterized by a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and an affective (mood) disorder. There has been a controversy about whether schizoaffective disorder is a type of schizophrenia or a type of mood disorder. Today, most clinicians and researchers agree that it is primarily a form of schizophrenia. Although its exact prevalence is not clear, it may range from two to five in a thousand people (- i.e., 0.2% to 0.5%). Schizoaffective disorder may account for one-fourth or even one-third of all persons with schizophrenia.
Imagine you’ve just stepped into an elevator and suddenly your heart races, your chest aches, you break out in a cold sweat and feel as if the elevator is about to crash to the ground. What’s happening?
What’s happening is a panic attack, an uncontrollable panic response to ordinary, nonthreatening situations. Panic attacks are often an indication that a person has panic disorder.Your Read More Link Text
A woman visits her dermatologist, complaining of extremely dry skin and seldom feeling clean. She showers for two hours every day.
A lawyer insists on making coffee several times each day. His colleagues do not realize that he lives in fear that the coffee will be poisoned, and he feels compelled to pour most of it down the drain. The lawyer is so obsessed with these thoughts that he spends 12 hours a day at work — four of them worrying about contaminated coffee.
A man cannot bear to throw anything away. Junk mail, old newspapers, empty milk cartons all “could contain something valuable that might be useful someday.” If he throws things away, “something terrible will happen.” He hoards so much clutter that he can no longer walk through his house. Insisting that nothing be thrown away, he moves to another house where he continues to hoard.
A 10 year old girl keeps apologizing for “disturbing” her class. She feels that she is too restless and is clearing her throat too loudly. Her teachers are puzzled and over time become annoyed at her repeated apologies since they did not notice any sounds or movements. She is also preoccupied with “being good all the time”.
These people suffer obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 2 percent of the U.S. population, or nearly one out of every 40 people, will suffer from OCD at some point in their lives. The disorder is two to three times more common than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.Your Read More Link Text
Many families know how difficult it is to find treatment for their relatives with mental illness who also abuse drugs and or alcohol. Programs that treat people with mental illness usually do not treat substance abusers, and programs for substance abusers are not geared for people with mental illness. Individuals with both diagnoses often bounce from one program to another, or are refused treatment by single-diagnosed programs.Your Read More Link Text
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by impulsivity and instability in mood, self-image, and personal relationships. It is fairly common and is diagnosed more often in females than males.
BPD is a most misunderstood, serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. It is a disorder of emotion dysregulation. This instability often disrupts family and work, long-term planning, and the individual’s sense of self-identity. While less well known than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), BPD is as common, affecting between .07 to 2% of the general population.Your Read More Link Text
On behalf of NAMI’s Board of Directors, I am very pleased to announce that we have chosen Mary Giliberti to serve as the next Executive Director. Mary succeeds Mike Fitzpatrick, who announced this past January that he would be stepping down at the end of the year.
Prior to joining NAMI, Mary served as a section chief of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Before that she served as NAMI’s Director of Public Policy and Advocacy from 2006 to 2009, working closely with NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates.