Psychiatric Disorders

Lifelong health encompasses both physical and mental wellbeing. Not unlike a disease of the body, Psychiatric disorders left untreated can interfere with daily activities, impact quality of life and even shorten life span.

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Psychiatric Disorders


Dementia is defined as the loss of mental processing ability, including communication, abstract thinking, judgment and physical abilities, such that it interferes with daily living.

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Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder, and not a disease. Children with autism have difficulty with social interaction, language acquisition, and communication. Boys and girls with autism struggle to interact with their surroundings.

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Mental Health

Mental illness and depression often exist together, or are comorbid. Depression is itself a mental illness, but it is commonly seen in combination with another mental disorder. Depression often coexists with anxiety and substance abuse, as well as other types of depression.

Mental Illness: Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders and depression commonly occur together. In fact, results from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey suggest up to 60 percent of people suffering from major depression have a comorbid anxiety disorder.

Types of anxiety disorders that commonly occur with depression include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder: A state of constant anxiety, even when there is no cause for anxiety.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder: Constant, intrusive thoughts that cannot be controlled, combined with the need to complete certain rituals or routines.
  • Panic disorder: Feelings of extreme fear and anxiety that develop either without warning or in response to situational triggers.
  • Phobic disorder (phobias): Unreasonable, overwhelming fear of a situation or object. The object of the phobia usually presents little real danger to the individual.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: A cluster of anxiety symptoms caused by exposure to a traumatic incident.
  • Social phobia: The fear of being judged or humiliated by others in social situations. Also known as social anxiety disorder.

Substance Abuse and Depression

Substance abuse and alcoholism may trigger depression. Substance abuse may also be a consequence of depression or other mental illness. Substance abuse sometimes results from attempts to self-medicate the symptoms of a mental disorder.

The term dual diagnosis is used to describe a combination of substance abuse and mental illness/depression. Successful treatment is only possible if both the mental order and substance abuse are addressed.

Eating Disorders, Mental Illness and Depression

Eating disorders are another example of the comorbidity between mental illness and depression. People with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa also have high rates of depression. Eating disorders are sometimes uncovered when the affected individual seeks help for depression symptoms.

ADHD, Learning Disorders and Depression

Learning disorders such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are very stressful for those who live with them. Accordingly, relatively high rates of depression are seen in people with learning disorders.

Schizophrenia and Depression

Depression may occur alongside schizophrenia. Remember, however, that while schizophrenia may be seen in combination with depression, the two mental illnesses are very different and require different treatment. People with schizophrenia are often depressed, but depression does not usually present with schizophrenia.

Combined Types of Depression

Depression is not a single entity. Rather it is a family of mental illness conditions that share similar causes and treatments. It is possible for someone with major depression to also suffer from the milder depressive symptoms of dysthymia.

The combination of mental illness and depression is all too common. As a result, people with depression should be screened for other types of mental illness.


Aina, Y., Susman, J.(2006). Understanding comorbidity with depression and anxiety disorders. Retrieved May 8, 2010, from the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association website:

Brendel, D. (2008). What is the relationship between depression and substance abuse? Retrieved May 12, 2010, from the ABC News website:

Kuehnel, D. (2008). Eating disorders: Comorbidities of eating disorders. Retrieved May 8, 2010, from the Healthy Place website:

Mulholland, C. and Cooper, S. (2000). The symptom of depression in schizophrenia and its management. Retrieved May 12, 2010, from the Advances in Psychiatric Treatment website:

Office of the Surgeon General Staff. (n.d.). Mood disorders. Retrieved May 8, 2010, from the Office of the Surgeon General website:

Thakkar, V., Adler, L. (2006). Depression and ADHD: What you need to know. Retrieved May 8, 2010, from the MedscapeCME website:

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