What are mental or Psychological Illnesses?

Mental illnesses are disorders of a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. There are various types of mental illnesses. These can be treated and recovery is possible. Medication and psychotherapy are examples of popular and effective modes of treatment. Treatment results are as good as any physical illness depending on the type of the illness.

Why are mental illnesses considered medical when they are related to the “mind”?

The concept of health includes both physical and mental well being. Mind and body are two sides of the same coin, and hence their disturbances are interrelated. The “Mind” is not purely a spiritual entity, but also forms part of the brain as a structure. So, like any body part it can have issues of illness. We always relate doctors, medicines and diseases with physical ailments. Unfortunately, mental disorders are visualised purely from non-medical and non-scientific aspects leading to misconceptions.

I am not violent or behaving “crazy”. Why should I see a Psychologist??

Members of public have a common misperception that all mentally ill patients are violent or behave in a funny way. Exaggerated depiction of violence and comic behaviour by visual media adds to this misconception that all mental illnesses lead to total loss of self-control.
Of all the people suffering from mental disorders, a very small percentage exhibit disordered behaviour. The suffering of the majority is not visible to the outside world.

Why do people find it difficult to accept mental illnesses?

Ignorance, misconception, fear and social stigma are the main reasons. Strong visual images or personal experience with an occasional disturbed patient may leave a lasting impression on our minds.
At a personal level, we believe that we should be in total control of our mind all the time. A misconception that a mental illness always leads to loss of self-control because of a “weak mind” makes us take a “not me” stand.
Acceptance increases when we believe that mental disorders are like any other physical illness, and can happen to anybody.

Mental illnesses are rare. How did I get such a rare illness?

It is estimated that 15 – 20 % of the population experiences some or the other form of psychological distress during their lifetime. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that Depression will be the number one illness in terms of impact by 2030.
In spite of such a high prevalence, the number of people actually receiving proper care is very small due to various reasons. This creates a false impression in the public that mental illnesses are rare.

What is the difference between a Psychiatrist, a Psychologist, and a Counsellor? There are so many experts that it is confusing.

A Psychiatrist is a medically qualified doctor with postgraduate training in Psychiatry. He / she can diagnose mental disorders and use both psychological and medical interventions to treat these.

A Psychologist is a nonmedical professional with postgraduate training in Psychology. They conduct psychological testing and can use psychotherapeutic techniques (excluding medicines) to help people.

A Psychiatric social worker is trained in evaluation and management of social aspects of mental health.

A Counsellor is a professional who gives focused advice. Counselling can be done by all of the above-mentioned professionals.

Other members of the team of Mental Health Professionals [MHP] are Psychiatric Nurse, Occupational Therapist and Special Educators.
A Neurologist (Neuro physician or Neurosurgeon) is a medical expert who deals with disorders of the brain due to physical causes (strokes, tumors, infections, etc.)

What are psychometric tests?

These are standardized tests consisting of questions, pictures, images, puzzles, and skill evaluation. These are conducted by a qualified l psychologist. These are helpful in certain conditions.

How do we know that a person is suffering from a mental illness just by talking to him?

A clinical interview by a trained psychiatrist can yield valuable information about a problem. Information obtained from other sources like family members and friends also helps in reaching a diagnosis. The Psychiatrist evaluates parameters like mood, thought and behaviour. These are compared with standardized criteria to arrive at a diagnosis.

What is Learning Disability?

Learning disabilities, or learning disorders, are an umbrella term for a wide variety of learning problems. A learning disability is not a problem with intelligence or motivation. Kids with learning disabilities aren’t lazy or dumb. In fact, most are just as smart as everyone else.

Learning disabilities are neurologically-based processing problems. These processing problems can interfere with learning basic skills such as reading, writing and/or math.  They can also interfere with higher level skills such as organization, time planning, abstract reasoning, long or short-term memory and attention.  It is important to realize that learning disabilities can affect an individual’s life beyond academics and can impact relationships with family, friends and in the workplace.

What are Specific Learning Disabilities

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
Also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder, this is a condition that adversely affects how sound that travels unimpeded through the ear is processed or interpreted by the brain. Individuals with APD do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud and clear enough to be heard. They can also find it difficult to tell where sounds are coming from, to make sense of the order of sounds, or to block out competing background noises.

A specific learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts. Individuals with this type of LD may also have poor comprehension of math symbols, may struggle with memorizing and organizing numbers, have difficulty telling time, or have trouble with counting.

A specific learning disability that affects a person’s handwriting ability and fine motor skills. Problems may include illegible handwriting, inconsistent spacing, poor spatial planning on paper, poor spelling, and difficulty composing writing as well as thinking and writing at the same time.

A specific learning disability that affects reading and related language-based processing skills. The severity can differ in each individual but can affect reading fluency, decoding, reading comprehension, recall, writing, spelling, and sometimes speech and can exist along with other related disorders. Dyslexia is sometimes referred to as a Language-Based Learning Disability.

Language Processing Disorder
A specific type of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) in which there is difficulty attaching meaning to sound groups that form words, sentences and stories. While an APD affects the interpretation of all sounds coming into the brain, a Language Processing Disorder (LPD) relates only to the processing of language. LPD can affect expressive language and/or receptive language.

Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities
A disorder which is usually characterized by a significant discrepancy between higher verbal skills and weaker motor, visual-spatial and social skills. Typically, an individual with NLD (or NVLD) has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language, and may have poor coordination.

Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
A disorder that affects the understanding of information that a person sees, or the ability to draw or copy. A characteristic seen in people with learning disabilities such as Dysgraphia or Non-verbal LD, it can result in missing subtle differences in shapes or printed letters, losing place frequently, struggles with cutting, holding pencil too tightly, or poor eye/hand coordination.

What are the signs of a Learning Disability?

There is no one sign that shows a person has a learning disability. Experts look for a noticeable difference between how well a child does in school and how well he or she could do, given his or her intelligence or ability. There are also certain clues that may mean a child has a learning disability. We’ve listed a few below. Most relate to elementary school tasks, because learning disabilities tend to be identified in elementary school. A child probably won’t show all of these signs, or even most of them. However, if a child shows a number of these problems, then parents and the teacher should consider the possibility that the child has a learning disability.
When a child has a learning disability, he or she:

  • may have trouble learning the alphabet, rhyming words, or connecting letters to their sounds;
  • may make many mistakes when reading aloud, and repeat and pause often;
  • may not understand what he or she reads;
  • may have real trouble with spelling;
  • may have very messy handwriting or hold a pencil awkwardly;
  • may struggle to express ideas in writing;
  • may learn language late and have a limited vocabulary;
  • may have trouble remembering the sounds that letters make or hearing slight differences between words;
  • may have trouble understanding jokes, comic strips, and sarcasm;
  • may have trouble following directions;
  • may mispronounce words or use a wrong word that sounds similar;
  • may have trouble organizing what he or she wants to say or not be able to think of the word he or she needs for writing or conversation;
  • may not follow the social rules of conversation, such as taking turns, and
  • may stand too close to the listener;
  • may confuse math symbols and misread numbers;
  • may not be able to retell a story in order (what happened first, second, third); or
  • may not know where to begin a task or how to go on from there.If a child has unexpected problems learning to read, write, listen, speak, or do math, then teachers and parents may want to investigate more. The same is true if the child is struggling to do any one of these skills. The child may need to be evaluated to see if he or she has a learning disability.

What are the causes of Learning Disability?

Experts say that there is no single, specific cause for learning disabilities. However, there are some factors that could cause a learning disability:

  • Heredity: It is observed that a child, whose parents have had a learning disability, is likely to develop the same disorder.
  • Illness during and after birth: An illness or injury during or after birth may cause learning disabilities. Other possible factors could be drug or alcohol consumption during pregnancy, physical trauma, poor growth in the uterus, low birth weight, and premature or prolonged labour.
  • Stress during infancy: A stressful incident after birth such as high fever, head injury, or poor nutrition.
  • Environment: Increased exposure to toxins such as lead (in paint, ceramics, toys, etc.)
  • Comorbidity: Children with learning disabilities are at a higher-than-average risk for attentional problems or disruptive behaviour disorders. Up to 25 percent of children with reading disorder also have ADHD. Conversely, it is estimated that between 15 and 30 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD have a learning disorder.

What are the types of Intellectual Disability ?

There are five categories caused by genetic mutations or abnormalities that develop before birth. They include cranial abnormalities, cretinism, phenylketonuria (PKU), Down syndrome, and nonsydromic mental retardation. All types of mental retardation typically because mental delays measured by intelligence quotient tests. Often, people with mental retardation also suffer developmental delays, affecting their ability to perform basic life skills.

What are the symptoms of Mental Retardation?

Feeling sad or down. Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate. Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt. Extreme mood changes of highs and lows. Withdrawal from friends and activities.

Is IQ the same as intelligence?

Intelligence and IQ are not the same thing. Your IQ is a measurement (a number) of the ‘intelligence’ trait that each and every one has to a greater or lesser degree in comparison with others.
It is remarkable that measurements of the IQ preceded discussions on what the concept of intelligence actually entailed. Usually this would be the other way around.

What does IQ really measure?

IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is a quantitative assessment of the human intellect level: the level of intelligence relative to the average person of the same age. It is defined by special tests. Simply speaking, the IQ test measures your ability to solve problems and reasoning.

What are the common symptoms of Autism?

  • A lack of eye contact
  • A narrow range of interests or intense interest in certain topics
  • Doing something over and over, like repeating words or phrases, rocking back and forth, or flipping a lever
  • High sensitivity to sounds, touches, smells, or sights that seem ordinary to other people
  • Not looking at or listening to other people
  • Not looking at things when another person points at them
  • Not wanting to be held or cuddled
  • Problems understanding or using speech, gestures, facial expressions, or tone of voice
  • Talking in a sing-song, flat, or robotic voice
  • Trouble adapting to changes in routine

What is the Autism Spectrum Disorder?

  • The Spectrum formerly include the following:
  • Asperger’s syndrome: These children don’t have a problem with language; in fact, they tend to score in the average or above-average range on intelligence tests. But they have social problems and a narrow scope of interests.
  • Autistic disorder: This is what most people think of when they hear the word “autism.” It refers to problems with social interactions, communication, and play in children younger than 3 years.
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder: These children have typical development for at least 2 years and then lose some or most of their communication and social skills.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) The term might be used if the child has some autistic behaviour, like delays in social and communications skills, but doesn’t fit into another category.

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that impacts the parts of the brain that help us plan, focus on, and execute tasks. ADHD symptoms vary by sub-type — inattentive, hyperactive, or combined
ADHD is a developmental impairment of the brain’s executive functions. People with ADHD have trouble with impulse-control, focusing, and organization.
Neuroscience, brain imaging, and clinical research tell us a few important things: ADHD is not a behaviour disorder. ADHD is not a mental illness. ADHD is not a specific learning disability.
ADHD is, instead, a developmental impairment of the brain’s self-management system. Common ADHD symptoms include:

  • Inattention
  • Lack of focus
  • Poor time management
  • Weak impulse control
  • Exaggerated emotions
  • Hyper focus
  • Hyperactivity
  • and executive dysfunction
    Many patients and clinicians describe ADHD as an iceberg, where most symptoms lay hiding under the surface — out of sight but ever present.

What Causes ADHD?

The causes of ADHD remain somewhat unclear. Research suggests that genetics and heredity play a large part in determining who gets ADHD. However, scientists are still investigating whether certain genes, especially ones linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine, play a defined role in developing ADHD.
Additional research suggests that exposure to toxins and chemicals may increase a child’s risk of having ADHD.
ADHD is not caused by bad parenting, too much sugar, or too many video games. ADHD is a brain-based, biological disorder. Brain imaging studies and other research show many physiological differences in the brains of individuals with ADHD.

What Are the 3 subtypes of ADHD?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) previously identified three types of ADHD:

  • Primarily hyperactive-impulsive type
  • Primarily inattentive type (formerly called ADD)
  • Primarily combined type
    People with hyperactive-impulsive subtype of ADHD act “as if driven by a motor” with little impulse control — moving, squirming, and talking at even the most inappropriate times. They are impulsive, impatient, and interrupt others.
    People with the inattentive subtype of ADHD are easily distracted and forgetful. They may be daydreamers who lose track of homework, cell phones, and conversations with regularity.
    Individuals with combined-type ADHD display a mixture of all the symptoms outlined above.
    These subtypes are now considered “presentations” in the most recent version of the DSM, the DSM-V. Researchers determined that people often move from one subtype to another. For example, a child may present as primarily hyperactive-impulsive in preschool, and lose much of the hyperarousal in adolescence to fit the primarily inattentive presentation. In college and adulthood, the same individual may transition to combined presentation.
    The subtypes were primarily based on overt behavioural symptoms, and ignored less visible symptoms like emotional dysregulation, cognitive patterns, and sleep difficulties. Behavioural symptoms imperfectly capture the defining features of ADHD. Non-behavioural characteristics are increasingly recognized in research and diagnosis.

What Are the symptoms of ADHD?

The symptoms of ADHD are spelled out in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which lists nine symptoms that suggest ADHD–Primarily Inattentive and nine that suggest ADHD–Primarily Hyperactive/Impulsive. A child may be diagnosed with ADHD only if he or she exhibits at least six of nine symptoms from one of the lists below, and if the symptoms have been noticeable for at least six months in two or more settings — for example, at home and at school. What’s more, the symptoms must interfere with the child’s functioning or development, and at least some of the symptoms must have been apparent before age 12. Older teens and adults may need to consistently demonstrate just five of these symptoms in multiple settings.