Q. What is mental illness?
A. Mental illnesses are biologically based brain
disorders that can profoundly disrupt a person’s
thinking, feeling, moods, ability to relate to others,
and capacity for coping with the demands of life. Mental
illnesses include disorders such as schizophrenia, major
depressive disorder, and bi-polar disorder.
Q. Are mental illnesses common?
A. According to the U. S. Surgeon General’s Report
published in 1999, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a
mental illness in their lifetime. In Alabama the Division of Mental
Illness Services serves over 100,000 people per year.
Ninety-five percent of these consumers receive services
through our certified community providers. Approximately
five percent receive services through state operated
Q. What is schizophrenia?
A. Schizophrenia is a biological brain disease that
interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly,
manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others.
Many people with schizophrenia have hallucinations and
delusions, meaning they hear and see things that are not
there and believe things that are not real to be true.
Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not “split
personality”. Currently, one to two percent of the
world’s population, including one to two million
American adults, has schizophrenia. Men and women are at
equal risk; however, most males become ill between the
ages of 16 and 25, while females develop symptoms
between ages 25 and 30. Treatment success rates for
schizophrenia are significantly higher than those for
other physical illnesses such as heart disease.
Q. What is bipolar disorder?
A. Bipolar disorder is a biological brain disorder
that affects more than 3 million Americans. It is
characterized by episodes of mood swings ranging from
periods of deep depression to times of extreme elation.
Between episodes most people with bipolar disorder have
periods of relatively normal moods and activity. This
brain disorder often begins in adolescence or early
adulthood and continues throughout life. Bipolar
disorder is highly treatable through a combination of
medications and psychotherapy.
Q. What are anxiety disorders?
A. Anxiety disorders are the nation’s most common
form of mental illness, affecting over 20 million people
per year. Types of anxiety disorders include: phobias,
panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD),
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and general
anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety disorders, like most
types of mental illnesses, respond exceptionally well to