Diagnoses & Symptoms

img_pensivegirlIf you or a loved one are experiencing problems coping with daily life, a psychiatric evaluation may be useful. The American Psychiatric Association reports that mental illness is common, and milder conditions are very common. One-fifth of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder during any given year. Severe and persistent mental illness is less common, but still afflicts 3 percent of the population. One-fifth of school-age children are affected by mental disorder during any given year. There is no stigma associated with mental illness–all that matters is getting a correct diagnosis and getting the help that will bring you or your family member back to a healthy life. Here are some signs to watch for:


• Marked personality change
• Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
• Excessive anxiety or feelings of panic
• Prolonged feelings of sadness
• Marked changes in sleeping or eating patterns
• Thinking or talking about suicide
• Thinking or talking about harming others
• Irritability
• Mood swings, extreme highs and lows
• Excessive anger, hostility
• Abuse of alcohol or drugs
• Violent behavior
• Irrational fears
• Feeling worthless, hopeless or helpless
• Strange ideas or delusions




Younger Children

• Marked decline in school performance
• Poor grades in school despite trying very hard
• Severe worry or anxiety, as shown by regular refusal to go to school, go to sleep, or take part in activities that are normal for the child’s age.
• Hyperactivity, fidgeting, constant movement beyond regular play
• Depressed mood, mood swings, irritability
Persistent nightmares
• Persistent disobedience or aggression and
provocative opposition to authority figures
• Frequent, unexplainable temper tantrums

Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents

• Problems with concentration, focus, completion of homework, or a decline in grades
• Marked change in school performance
• Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
• Marked change in sleeping and/or eating habits
• Sexual acting out.
• Threats to run away
• Depression or prolonged negative mood and attitude, often accompanied by poor appetite, difficulty sleeping, or thoughts of death
• Mood swings, irritability
• Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
• Intense fear of becoming obese with no relationship to actual body weight, purging food, or restricting eating
• Threats of self-harm or harm to others
• Self-injury or self-destructive behavior
• Frequent outbursts of anger, aggression
• Aggressive or non-aggressive, consistent violation of rights of others, opposition to authority, truancy, thefts, or vandalism.

Diagnosis Include

• Depression
• Bipolar Disorder
• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
• Anxiety Disorders
• Panic Disorder
• Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Separation Anxiety
• School Phobia
• Social Phobia
• Oppositional Defiant Disorder
• Conduct Disorder
• Reactive Attachment Disorder
• Autism
* Asperger’s Disorder
• Schizophrenia

Explanation of Symptoms

Anxiety Disorder:
• Overwhelming feelings of pain and fear
Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
• Painful, intrusive memories, recurring nightmares
• Physical symptoms (sick to your stomach, “butterflies” in
stomach,heart pounding, shaky, easily startled, tense muscles,
• Anxiety-caused depression, which affects job
performance/schoolwork, and personal relationship problems

Panic Disorder (panic attacks, physical and psychological distress)
img_womanonbeach• Pounding heart or chest pain (similar to a heart attack)
• Sweating, trembling, shaking, shortness of breath,
choking sensation
• Nausea, abdominal pain, hot flashes, chills
• Dizziness, lightheadedness, numbness
• Disconnected or unreal feeling of “going crazy,”
losing control, dying

Phobias (excessive, persistent fear of a specific object, situation or activity)

• Examples–fear of flying, fear of spiders
• Social anxiety disorder–public speaking, meeting people,
using public restrooms
• Agoraphobia–fear of not being able to escape from a difficult,
panic-causing event, so may refuse to leave the house

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
• Recurring, irrational thoughts (anxiety about germs, dirt,
nagging doubts, things not being in order) that leads to
repeated handwashing, constant rechecking, and other
rigid rules of order that disrupt daily routines and relationships.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

This usually occurs after a severe or terrifying event (military combat, violent attack, natural disaster, tragedy, sexual abuse).
• Nightmares, trouble sleeping
• Flashbacks of the event
• Feeling numb or detached
• Feeling jittery, on guard, irritable
• Going to extremes to avoid a situation

Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)
• Mood shifts (feeling on top of the world, then sudden irritability, rage, intense sadness)
• Grandiose delusions–of a special connection with God, celebrities, political leaders
• Invincibility, unrealistic belief in one’s ability, or no interest
in activities once enjoyed
• Hyperactivity, inability to relax, or loss of energy, fatigue
• Excessive risky behavior–reckless driving, spending sprees, foolish business investments, sexual behavior
• Uncontrollable racing thoughts, loud, rapid speech, delusion
• Sleep difficulties (too much or too little
• Thoughts of suicide or death