The Abnormal Mind: What Goes Wrong

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Tomorrow morning you wake up, and instead of feeling like your normal self, you feel sick. You’re coughing, sneezing, you have a fever, your body aches and you just want to stay in bed and sleep. Those are signs that something is wrong with your health. You feel abnormal. Your collections of warning signs are called symptoms. When taken to a doctor, he/she takes your symptoms and can then tell you what underlying condition, or syndrome you have. This feeling of abnormality happens also in mental illness. Mental illness can appear in a person in many different ways. Normally, it is classified as a combination of how a person thinks, acts, feels and perceives information. If something is off with the way a person goes through these processes, we see it as abnormal behaviors of the mind. Some mental illness is temporary, something that lasts only a short amount of time, while other illnesses can last for months, and sometimes years of struggling. Mental health can be measured in morbidity rate vs. mortality rate. Morbidity rate tells us how many people have been recorded to have incidences of disease or ill health. Specific to mental health, it tells us how many people are suffering from mental illness in general, or broken down into specific illnesses. Mortality on the other hand tells us how many people have passed away in a specific or general population. But as you can see, this only gives us statistics, how many people are suffering vs. how many people passed on. This is why they developed the mental health continuum. The continuum depicts the range from healthy to mentally ill based on how impaired you are, and how much distress you are having. In a healthy human being, the normal everyday stresses of life do not cause an impairment of daily functions. Someone having a mild or moderate amount of distress, enough to impair them for a temporary amount of time is not labeled as having an illness so to speak, but considered to have hit a ‘rough patch’. With the help of friends, family, and counseling can return to a happy emotional state. A person with a mental illness is characterized as having moderate to chronic impairment of daily functions, such as erratic sleep patterns, problems with eating, concentrating and more. Some mental illness can be treated using the right combination of talk-therapy and medication, but others can just be managed. This spectrum helps us determine how serious particular persons’ mental heath issues are, and what the right course of help is. Some of the most debilitating mental illnesses are schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia is the most debilitating despite only affecting about 1% of the American population. Patients with schizophrenia often lose touch with reality; they have hallucinations of different voices, smells, feels, or sights that no one else can experience. They also have delusions, which they believe things that are not true to be accurate. There are a few types of schizophrenia, each with there own characteristics. There is paranoid schizophrenia, which is associated with the delusions of someone spying on them, plotting against them or cheating them. Catatonic schizophrenics are usually clumsy and uncoordinated. They typically have involuntary movements and unusual gestures. In very extreme cases, they may become motionless and unresponsive. There is also disorganized schizophrenia. In this form, the person’s thoughts are all jumbled up in their heads. They have difficulties forming logical thoughts, their speech is hard to comprehend, and they may stop in the middle of a sentence loosing the train of thought. Schizophrenia is the most debilitating because it keeps the person from having the ability to function in school, work, relationships and society. It affects the patient from being able to think clearly and determine the difference between fantasy and the real world. Another debilitating mental illness, and probably...
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