Active Minds at YU

a student-run mental health awareness, education and advocacy organization

Facts About Mental Illnesses

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The Symptoms of Anxiety:
   -Unrealistic or excessive worry or fears
   -Exaggerated startle reactions
   -Sleep disturbances
   -Ritualistic behaviors (i.e. excessive hand washing, counting things)
   -Shakiness and trembling  
   -Racing or pounding heart
   -High pulse and/or breathing rate
   -Muscle aches and/or tension
•GAD affects about 4 million adult Americans; about twice as many women as men
•The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age
•It is diagnosed when someone spends at least 6 months worrying excessively about a number of everyday problems. There is evidence that genes play a modest role
•GAD is commonly treated with psychotherapy and medication
•GAD rarely occurs alone, however; it is usually accompanied by another anxiety disorder, depression, or substance abuse

Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, panic disorders,
post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorders

Bipolar Disorder

Common Manic Stage Behaviors:
   -Unusual amounts of energy that effect mood and/or sleep
   -Uncharacteristic participation in high-risk activities that are likely to lead to painful
     results, such as spending sprees, and foolish investments.
   -Disconnected, racing thoughts
Common Depressive Stage Behaviors:
   -Excessive crying; constant fatigue and inertia
   -Loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities
   -Overwhelming feelings of despair, hopelessness, and helplessness
•The moods of a person with bipolar disorder, which is also called manic depression, swing from periods of intense elation to periods of intense sadness
•Bipolar disorder typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood
•Unlike other forms of depression, bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. Nearly one in every 100 people will experience the disorder at some time in their lives
•The psychological basis for bipolar disorder is better understood than other forms of depression, making the illness one of the most effectively treated
•Because of the genetic susceptibility to bipolar disorder, people who have a close relative with the condition are 10-20 times more likely to develop either depression or bipolar disorder than the general population
•There is help: 70% or more of those patients with bipolar disorder respond well to medication that helps reduce the frequency and intensity of manic episodes. A combination of professional counseling and medication helps most patients return to productive and fulfilling lives

Clinical Depression

•Depression is diagnosed if a person experiences 1) persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety or 2) loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities in addition to five or more of the following symptoms for at least 2 consecutive weeks:
   -Changes in appetite that result in weight losses or gains not related to dieting
   -Insomnia or oversleeping
   -Loss of energy or increased fatigue
   -Restlessness or irritability
   -Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
   -Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
•Sadness and depression are not the same. While feelings of sadness will lessen with time, the disorder of depression can continue for months, even years
•Clinical depression affects twice as many women as men
•Half of all adults with depression report onset before age 20.
•It is estimated that 1 out of 4 women and 1 out of 10 men will suffer from depression in their lifetime, and each year it affects nearly 1 in 10 (17million) Americans
•Depression is among the most treatable of mental disorders. The majority (80%-90%) of people who receive treatment experience significant improvement, and almost all individuals gain some relief from their symptoms

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders involve serious disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating, as well as feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight
•The main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder
•More than 7 million women and 1 million men experience an eating disorder in this country alone
•Eating disorders frequently develop during adolescence or early adulthood, and females are much likely than males to develop them
•Researchers estimate that as many as 20-30% of college-age women may display bulimic behaviors
•An estimated 2-3% of young women develop bulimia, 1 in 250 are estimated to be suffering from anorexia nervosa, and 2% from binge eating disorder
•Eating disorders frequently co-occur with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders
•In addition, people who suffer from eating disorders can experience a wide range of physical health complications, including:
   -Serious heart conditions and kidney failure which may lead to death
   -Cessation of menstruation
   -Erosion of tooth enamel and increased cavities
   -Lightheadedness and dizziness or fainting
   -Sensitivity to cold
   -Dry skin and thinning scalp hair
   -Mortality rate is 5-15% (lower with treatment)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can result from experiencing, witnessing or participating in an overwhelmingly traumatic event. Often, people with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to
•PTSD affects about 5.2 million adult Americans (up to 10% of the population).
•Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD
•It can occur at any age, including childhood
•In those who do develop PTSD, symptoms usually begin within 3 months of the trauma, and must last more than a month to be diagnosed
•The disorder is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or one or more other anxiety disorders. In severe cases, the person may have trouble working or socializing
•People with PTSD can be helped by psychotherapy and medication
•Ordinary events can serve as reminders of the trauma and trigger flashbacks or intrusive images.  Anniversaries of the traumatic event are often very difficult


Schizophrenia is a severe mental disease whose patients experience illogical and confused thought patterns, hearing internal voices not heard by others, or beliefs that other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them
•Some symptoms of schizophrenia include:
   -Changes in work performance/social relationships
   -Confused thinking
   -Hallucinations and delusions
   -Unusual perceptions
•75% of patients develop schizophrenia between the ages of 15-25
•Schizophrenia affects men and women equally
•150 of every 100,000 people will develop schizophrenia
•Schizophrenia is NOT “Split Personality”
•Approximately 10% of people with schizophrenia (especially younger adult males) commit suicide
•With treatment, the symptoms of schizophrenia can be controlled, and recovery is often possible in those who receive prompt, continuous treatment and rehabilitation

*Facts obtained from Friends Hospital, the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Association*

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