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Overcoming Misconceptions: Understanding Mental Health Disorders


Mental health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, yet it is often misunderstood. Understanding the diverse sets of mental health conditions is essential to breaking the stigma and promoting empathy and support. Each disorder presents unique challenges for individuals and requires a comprehensive approach to diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management.

Anxiety Disorders:

Anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent feelings of fear, worry and unease. Conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and specific phobias fall under this category. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 31% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. These disorders can significantly impact an individual’s daily life, leading to difficulty in managing relationships, work-related stress and overall quality of life.

Mood Disorders:

Mood disorders involve disturbances in mood, emotions and energy levels. Major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder are two common examples. MDD, also known as clinical depression, manifests as persistent sadness, loss of interest and a range of physical and cognitive symptoms. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression, making it a leading cause of disability.

Psychotic Disorders:

Psychotic disorders are marked by a loss of touch with reality and may include symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and impaired social functioning. Schizophrenia is a well-known example of a psychotic disorder. It affects an individual’s perception of reality, thinking processes and emotional responses. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 1% of the global population has schizophrenia.

Personality Disorders:

Personality disorders encompass a group of conditions that affect an individual’s patterns of thoughts, behaviors and relationships. These disorders, including borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder, can cause difficulties in interpersonal relationships and emotional stability. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) estimates that about 9% of the U.S. population has at least one personality disorder.

Eating Disorders:

Eating disorders involve extreme disturbances in eating behaviors, thoughts and emotions. Conditions such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder fall within this category. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) reports that approximately 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Individuals with eating disorders often have an unhealthy preoccupation with body image, weight and food, which can result in severe physical and psychological consequences.

Substance Use Disorders:

Substance use disorders refer to the misuse or dependence on substances such as alcohol, drugs or medications. These disorders can have significant effects on an individual’s physical and mental health, relationships and overall functioning. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), around 19.3 million adults in the U.S. had a substance use disorder in 2020. Seeking professional help and support is crucial for recovery.

It is vital to prioritize mental health, seek professional help when needed and foster a compassionate and inclusive society that supports individuals with mental health conditions.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, visit for resources and information on Citizen Advocates’ outpatient, tele-mental health and behavioral health urgent care services. Need help now? Our 24/7 Crisis Hotline is available at 518-483-3261 or 518-891-5535.