What is a Psychiatric Disorder?
Psychiatric disorders or commonly known as mental disorders (or mental illnesses) are conditions that affect your thinking, feeling, mood, and behavior. They may be occasional or long-lasting (chronic). They can affect your ability to relate to others and function each day.
A great number of adults with severe and persistent mental health disorders also experience drug & alcohol addiction. Around 40-60% of them do. Indeed, a psychiatric disorder treatment for both conditions is essential to drive long-term recovery outcomes.
Dual diagnosis or co-occurring diagnosis is suffering from both mental health disorders and substance abuse illness. With dual diagnosis, a person has two different illnesses. Each disorder requires its treatment therapies. We know that for patients suffering from dual diagnosis:
- when one illness is ignored, the other will likely get worse.
- When both illnesses are given proper treatment, the likelihood of lasting recovery is increased greatly.
According to The World Health Organization (WHO), there are many different mental disorders, with different presentations. They are generally characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behavior, and relationships with others.
Moreover, the organization explained that the determinants of mental health and mental disorders include not only individual attributes such as the ability to manage one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and interactions with others, but also social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental factors. Additionally, stress, genetics, nutrition, perinatal infections, and exposure to environmental hazards are also contributing factors to mental disorders. 
In conclusion, to determine the most effective treatment for you, we must recognize first what disorder you are struggling with. Being knowledgeable or having insights about your condition will help you go into treatment that will help you the most.
Determining Which Mental Illness You Have
Sometimes it’s challenging to determine which mental illness may be causing your symptoms. But taking the time and effort to get an accurate diagnosis will help determine the appropriate treatment. In addition, the more information you have, the more you will be prepared to work with your mental health professional in understanding what your symptoms may represent.
The defining symptoms for each mental illness are detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. Mental health professionals use this manual to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
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Classes of Mental Illness
The main classes of mental illness are:
Developmental disorders are better called neurodevelopmental disorders. Neurodevelopmental disorders are neurologically-based conditions that can interfere with the acquisition, retention, or application of specific skills or sets of information. They may involve dysfunction in attention, memory, perception, language, problem-solving, or social interaction. These disorders may be mild and easily manageable with behavioral and educational interventions, or they may be more severe, and affected children may require more support.
Neurodevelopmental disorders include
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and impairments in other academic areas
- Intellectual disability
- Rett syndrome
Genetics can play an important role in many neurodevelopmental disorders, and some cases of certain conditions such as intellectual disability are associated with specific genes. However, most neurodevelopmental disorders have complex and multiple contributors rather than anyone clear cause. These disorders likely result from a combination of genetic, biological, psychosocial, and environmental risk factors. A broad range of environmental risk factors may affect neurodevelopment, including (but not limited to) maternal use of alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs during pregnancy; lower socioeconomic status; preterm birth; low birth weight; the physical environment; and prenatal or childhood exposure to certain environmental contaminants.
There are no cures for neurodevelopmental disorders, although there are effective ADHD treatments and strategies that may help control some of the signs and symptoms, depending on the disorder. Medications are available that may reduce anxiety, agitation, tics, and hyperactivity.
Schizophrenia Spectrum and other Psychotic Disorders
Individuals with schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders lose contact with reality and experience a range of extreme symptoms that may include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking (speech), and/or grossly disorganized or abnormal behavior (including catatonia). Psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, brief psychotic disorder, delusional disorder, shared psychotic disorder, substance-induced psychotic disorder, and paraphrenia. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, less than 1% of Americans have schizophrenia. Schizophrenia treatment will center on managing your symptoms. You may need to stay on medication for a long time, possibly even for life.
Bipolar and Related Disorders
Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). The primary treatments for bipolar disorder include medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy) to control symptoms
When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy, or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior, and the ability to think clearly.
Depressive disorders are characterized by severe or persistent sadness that interferes with function and often by decreased interest or pleasure in activities. The exact cause is unknown but probably involves heredity, neurotransmitter levels, altered neuroendocrine function, and psychosocial factors. Diagnosis is based on history. Depressive disorder treatment usually consists of drugs, psychotherapy, or both and sometimes electroconvulsive therapy or rapid transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).
Occasional anxiety is an expected part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders treatment.
Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness that causes repeated unwanted thoughts or sensations (obsessions) or the urge to do something over and over again (compulsions). Some people can have both obsessions and compulsions.
OCD isn’t about habits like biting your nails or thinking negative thoughts. An obsessive thought might be that certain numbers or colors are “good” or “bad.” A compulsive habit might be to wash your hands seven times after touching something that could be dirty. Although you may not want to think or do these things, you feel powerless to stop.
Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders
Trauma- and stressor-related disorders are a group of psychiatric disorders that arise following a stressful or traumatic event. They include acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and adjustment disorder. These three conditions often present similarly to other psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety, although the presence of a trigger event is necessary to confirm a diagnosis. Because trauma- and stressor-related disorders share many common features, it is imperative to understand the nature of the triggering event, the temporal relationship between the triggering event and symptom occurrence, and the severity of symptoms. Trauma treatment generally consists of both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy.
Dissociative disorders are mental disorders that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions, and identity. People with dissociative disorders escape reality in involuntary and unhealthy ways and cause problems with functioning in everyday life.
Dissociative disorders usually develop due to trauma and help keep difficult memories at bay. Symptoms — ranging from amnesia to alternate identities — depend partly on the type of dissociative disorder you have. Times of stress can temporarily worsen symptoms, making them more noticeable.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) contains a dissociative subtype for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) characterized by significant depersonalization and derealization. PTSD treatment often involves psychotherapy and medication. Though finding an effective treatment plan can be difficult, many people are able to live healthy and productive lives.
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Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders
Somatic symptom and related disorders are mental health disorders characterized by an intense focus on physical (somatic) symptoms that cause significant distress and/or interfere with daily functioning. Mental symptoms characterize most mental health disorders. People have unusual or disturbing thoughts, moods, and behaviors. However, in somatic symptom disorders, mental factors are expressed as physical symptoms—a process called somatization—and the person’s main concern is with physical (somatic—from soma, the Greek word for body) symptoms, such as pain, weakness, fatigue, nausea, or other bodily sensations.
Feeding and Eating Disorders
Feeding and eating disorders are characterized by eating behavior that results in health or psychosocial problems. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by restrictive eating that leads to dangerously low body weight and disturbances in self-perceived shape or weight. Bulimia nervosa is a disorder that includes episodes of binge eating and compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging, exercising) in individuals who are unduly influenced by shape and weight. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is a newly defined disorder that describes rigid eating behavior that results in weight loss, nutritional deficiency, or psychosocial problems in individuals who are not preoccupied with shape or weight.
Elimination disorders all involve the inappropriate elimination of urine or feces and are usually first diagnosed in childhood or adolescence. This group of disorders includes enuresis, the repeated voiding of urine into inappropriate places, and encopresis, the repeated passage of feces into inappropriate places. Subtypes are provided to differentiate nocturnal from diurnal (i.e., during waking hours) voiding for enuresis and the presence or absence of constipation and overflow incontinence for encopresis. Although there are minimum age requirements for a diagnosis of both disorders, these are based on developmental age and not solely on chronological age. Both disorders may be voluntary or involuntary. Although these disorders typically occur separately, co-occurrence may also be observed.
Sleep disorders (or sleep-wake disorders) involve problems with the quality, timing, and amount of sleep, which result in daytime distress and impairment in functioning. Sleep-wake disorders often occur along with medical conditions or other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or cognitive disorders. There are several different types of sleep-wake disorders, of which insomnia is the most common. Other sleep-wake disorders include obstructive sleep apnea, parasomnias, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome.
Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders
Substance use disorder in DSM-5 combines the DSM-IV categories of substance abuse and substance dependence into a single disorder measured on a continuum from mild to severe. Each specific substance (other than caffeine, which cannot be diagnosed as a substance use disorder) is addressed as a separate use disorder (e.g., alcohol use disorder, stimulant use disorder, etc.), but nearly all substances are diagnosed based on the same overarching criteria.
In this overarching disorder, the criteria have not only been combined but strengthened. Whereas a diagnosis of substance abuse previously required only one symptom, mild substance use disorder in DSM-5 requires two to three symptoms from a list of 11. Drug craving will be added to the list, and problems with law enforcement will be eliminated because of cultural considerations that make the criteria difficult to apply internationally.
The neurocognitive disorder is a general term that describes decreased mental function due to a medical disease other than a psychiatric illness. It is often used synonymously (but incorrectly) with dementia. Treatment depends on the underlying condition. Many conditions are treated mainly with rehabilitation and supportive care to help the person with activities lost due to areas where brain function is affected.
Personality disorders are a group of mental illnesses. They involve long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy and inflexible. The behaviors cause serious problems with relationships and work. People with personality disorders have trouble dealing with everyday stresses and problems. They often have stormy relationships with other people. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCD). Treatment for BPD usually involves some type of psychological therapy, also known as psychotherapy. The same goes with OCD treatment
Self-medicating of mental disorders is often one of the main reasons for addiction. For instance, you may turn to alcohol or illegal drugs to experience being “high” which could somehow bring you relief. However, it can lead to addiction, a worsening of mood disorders, and increased health problems. One of the most common addictions is overdosing with prescription medications.
As per the National Library of Medicine, self-medication is defined as the selection and use of medicines by individuals (or a member of the individuals’ family) to treat self-recognized or self-diagnosed conditions or symptoms. And, the potential risks of self-medication practices include incorrect self-diagnosis, delays in seeking medical advice when needed, infrequent but severe adverse reactions, dangerous drug interactions, incorrect manner of administration, incorrect dosage, incorrect choice of therapy, masking of severe disease, and risk of dependence and abuse. 
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Psychiatric Disorder Treatment
Your treatment depends on the type of mental illness you have, its severity, and what works best for you. In many cases, a combination of treatments works best.
If you have a mild mental illness with well-controlled symptoms, treatment from your primary care provider may be sufficient. However, a team approach is often appropriate to make sure all your psychiatric, medical, and social needs are met. This is especially important for severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia.
Your Treatment Team
Your treatment team may include your:
- Family or primary care doctor
- Nurse practitioner
- Physician assistant
- Psychiatrist, a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats mental illnesses
- Psychotherapist, such as a psychologist or a licensed counselor
- Social worker
- Family members
Although psychiatric medications don’t cure mental illness, they can often significantly improve symptoms. Psychiatric medications can also help make other treatments, such as psychotherapy, more effective. The best medications for you will depend on your particular situation and how your body responds to the medication.
Some of the most commonly used classes of prescription psychiatric medications include:
- Antidepressants. Antidepressants are used to treat depression, anxiety and sometimes other conditions. They can help improve symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating and lack of interest in activities. Antidepressants are not addictive and do not cause dependency.
- Anti-anxiety medications. These drugs are used to treat anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder. They may also help reduce agitation and insomnia. Long-term anti-anxiety drugs typically are antidepressants that also work for anxiety. Fast-acting anti-anxiety drugs help with short-term relief, but they also have the potential to cause dependency, so ideally they’d be used short term.
- Mood-stabilizing medications. Mood stabilizers are most commonly used to treat bipolar disorders, which involves alternating episodes of mania and depression. Sometimes mood stabilizers are used with antidepressants to treat depression.
- Antipsychotic medications. Antipsychotic drugs are typically used to treat psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medications may also be used to treat bipolar disorders or used with antidepressants to treat depression.
Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, involves talking about your condition and related issues with a mental health professional. During psychotherapy, you learn about your condition and your moods, feelings, thoughts, and behavior. With the insights and knowledge you gain, you can learn coping and stress management skills.
There are many types of psychotherapy, each with its own approach to improving your mental well-being. Psychotherapy often can be successfully completed in a few months, but in some cases, long-term treatment may be needed. It can take place one-on-one, in a group, or with family members.
When choosing a therapist, you should feel comfortable and be confident that he or she is capable of listening and hearing what you have to say. Also, it’s important that your therapist understands the life journey that has helped shape who you are and how you live in the world.
Brain-stimulation treatments are sometimes used for depression and other mental health disorders. They’re generally reserved for situations in which medications and psychotherapy haven’t worked. They include electroconvulsive therapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, deep brain stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation.
Make sure you understand all the risks and benefits of any recommended treatment.
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Hospital and Residential Treatment Programs
Sometimes mental illness becomes so severe that you need care in a psychiatric hospital. This is generally recommended when you can’t care for yourself properly or when you’re in immediate danger of harming yourself or someone else.
Options include 24-hour inpatient care, partial or day hospitalization, or residential treatment, which offers a temporary supportive place to live. Another option may be intensive outpatient treatment.
How Inpatient Mental Health Treatment Works
Inpatient mental health treatment is an essential, life-saving level of care that more people should know about and use, but that is still widely feared, stigmatized, and misunderstood. We think it’s time to erase the stigma. Going to a hospital for mental health treatment is simply what you do to get the right level of care when you’re in crisis. It’s not that different from going to the hospital for short-term acute treatment of a medical crisis or condition.
In either case, it’s only fair to acknowledge that no matter what kind of hospital we’re talking about, no one really wants to go to a hospital, and when you have to go to the hospital, it’s usually not the best time in your life. It’s also true that psychiatric hospitals in particular come with some very real downsides. All that said, inpatient mental health treatment is not the Gothic horror it’s often shown to be in movies or television.
We Level Up NJ Psychiatric Disorder Treatment
First, seek out support from friends and family members. And then, for you to have an understanding of treatments and therapies, it is crucial to seek out mental health professionals. This is to allow you to live a happy, fulfilling life. And if you are having severe symptoms, suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of harming yourself, seek out help immediately.
Here at We Level Up NJ, our counselors understand and can make a recommendation best suited to your needs. You may call us today to speak with one of our treatment specialists.
Our treatment center is a multi-faceted drug, alcohol, and mental health treatment center with a dual diagnosis program. Our team uses evidence-based proven methods to generate cutting-edge solutions to substance abuse and behavioral health challenges targeted towards families and individuals. We work to improve the health of the public and of individuals from every treatment opportunity. This includes constant research and innovation on substance abuse and psychiatric disorder treatment models paired with individuals in a conducive environment.
Firstly, we believe that you should be treated with dignity and respect.
We Level Up NJ also includes evidence-based therapeutic practices and offers support to family members and loved ones, friends, and the community at large.
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 https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders – The World Health Organization (WHO)
 Mental Health America – Mental Illness And The Family: Recognizing Warning Signs And How To Cope
 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20615179/ – National Library of Medicine