33 29TH ANNUAL CRIME PREVENTION GUIDE What are Mental Illnesses? continued Psychotic disorders Psychosis is a health problem that affects how people understand what is real and what isn’t real. People may sense things that aren’t real or strongly believe things that can’t be real. Schizophreniais one example of a psychotic disorder. Personality disorders Personality disorders are patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that may last for a long time and create challenges in a person’s life. People who experience personality disorders may have difficulties developing healthy and satisfying relationships with others, managing their emotions well, avoiding harmful behaviour, and working toward important life goals. Personality disorders can affect the way people understand and view themselves and others and cope with problems. Borderline personality disorder is one example of a personality disorder. Childhood disorders This is a large group of mental illnesses that start to affect people when they are young, though some people are not diagnosed until they’re older. One example of a disorder in this group is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (or ADHD), which affects a person’s ability to focus, complete tasks, plan or organize, sit still, or think through actions. Dementia ‘Dementia’ refers to a group of symptoms. It can be caused by a disease that mainly affects nerve cells in the brain or can be associated with many other medical conditions. Dementia impacts a person’s memory, language abilities, concentration, organization skills, mood, and behaviours. Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia. Other mental illnesses Some mental illnesses are no longer classified as anxiety disorders, though anxiety or fear is a major part of the illnesses. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) Obsessive-compulsive disorder is made up of unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that cause anxiety (obsessions) or repeated actions meant to reduce that anxiety (compulsions). Obsessions or compulsions usually take a lot of time and cause a lot of distress. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur after a very scary or traumatic event, such as abuse, an accident, or a natural disaster. Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event through nightmares or flashbacks, avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, and feeling unsafe in the world, even when a person isn’t in danger. A note on suicide Suicide, when someone ends their life on purpose, is not a mental illness in itself. Not all people who die by suicide experience a mental illness. However, suicide may be linked to many different mental illnesses. It’s important to take any talk or thoughts of suicide seriously and seek help. What are the risk factors for mental illness? Many factors cause mental illness. Contributing factors include: • genetics, which are influenced by your family history • early life experiences, such as: • abuse • trauma • stressful life events, such as: • financial problems • a loved one's death • divorce • environmental influences on a fetus, such as exposure to drugs or alcohol • your social, economic and educational status What are the symptoms of mental illness? Mental illness involves changes in thinking, mood or behaviour, or a combination of these issues. Symptoms include: • significant distress • inability to function as needed over an extended period of time These symptoms can be mild or severe, depending on the: • type of mental illness • individual • family • patient's environment What are the physical health effects of mental illness? Mental health is as important as physical health, and they both directly affect the other. People with physical health problems often experience anxiety or depression, which affects their recovery. Similarly, mental health factors can increase the risk of developing physical problems, such as: • diabetes • heart disease • weight gain or loss continued