People with anxiety disorders suffer from overwhelming feelings of worry, panic, or fear that hinder their ability to function.

There are several types of anxiety disorders that share a common symptom—a devastating feeling of worry or fear which causes stress and difficulty in functioning.


Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes symptoms that affect how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities, such as eating, working and sleeping.

If you or someone you love is experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms, for at least two weeks, they are suffering from depression:

  • Persistent sadness, anxiety or a feeling of emptiness
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy
  • Feeling restless or having trouble staying still
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Difficulty in remembering, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
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Trauma is a reaction to an upsetting time or specific event. Its severity depends on the individual interpretation. While physical or emotional abuse during childhood is traumatic for all children, it may affect one child more than the other. Besides experiencing trauma, individuals may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) over time.

PTSD is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

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Bipolar Disorder

Formerly call manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs and lows.

Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year such as depression, sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest or mood shifts to euphoric episodes, which are full of energy or unusually irritable. While most people will experience some emotional symptoms between episodes, some may not experience any. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgement, behavior and the ability to think clearly.

Personality Disorder

A personality disorder is a mental disorder which can have rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving.  Individuals with a personality disorder have trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people.  This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, work, and social activities.

Types of personality disorders are grouped into three clusters, based on similar characteristics and symptoms.

  • Cluster A –are characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior.  These include paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders.
  • Cluster B –are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior.  These includes borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders.
  • Cluster C –are characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior.  These include avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.

Behavioral issues

All mental illnesses affect a person’s behavior to some degree.  Behavioral disorders refer to group of mental conditions as identified by the American Psychiatric Association.  Diagnosis of one of these disorders to occur, symptoms will need to have lasted for six months or longer and causing issues at home, social situations, and at work.

  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Conduct Disorder
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)


The coexistence of both mental illness and a substance use disorder is known as a co-occurring disorder.  People with mental illness are more likely to experience a substance us disorder than those not affected by a mental illness.

No specific combinations of mental and substance use disorders are defined uniquely as co-occurring disorders.  Some of the common co-occurring disorders include:

  • Anxiety and mood disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Conduct disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Patients being treated for mental disorders also often misuse the following types of substances:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Opioids
  • Stimulants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Prescription drugs

Addiction to drugs and/or alcohol

Excessive substance use affects many parts of the body, but the organ most impacted is the brain. When an individual consumes a substance such as drugs and alcohol, their brain produces large amount of dopamine, which triggers the brain reward system.

Repeated drug or alcohol use, causes the brain to be unable to produce normal amounts of dopamine on its own. This means that a person will struggle to find enjoyment in pleasurable activities, like spending time with family and friends, when they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Identifying a substance abuse problem can be a complicated process. While some signs of addictive behavior are obvious, others are more difficult to identify. Individuals who realize they have a problem oftentimes hide it from family and friends.

Failure to Launch

Failure to launch is common amongst people with mental and behavioral health issues such as addiction. It is a phenomenon of adults who struggle to make a smooth transition from adolescence to adulthood. It is often referred to as “Peter Pan” syndrome. Many young adults stand on the launch pad of life, hesitant to leave home, obtain employment and contribute financially. They begin to isolate themselves from people and the world around them. In today’s world, with so many options at their fingertips, these young adults set unrealistic expectations that they soon fail to meet. As they begin to experience personal failures, they blame others for their circumstances and struggle to find motivation for change. They soon find themselves failing to launch themselves into adulthood.