Important Information about
We still don't know exactly what happens in
the brain when people are anxious, depressed, addicted, or have some other
mental illness. But studies show that
certain parts of the brain don't seem to be working normally. Mental illness
might also be affected by changes in the levels of certain chemicals in the
brain, called neurotransmitters.
- Researchers know that if a mental illness runs in your
family, you have a higher chance of getting that illness.
- Studies show that women are
about twice as likely as men to become depressed. The hormonal changes that
women go through at different times of their lives may be a factor. A man’s response to stress is commonly the
abuse of substances.
- People who are elderly are at higher risk of depression.
That can be compounded by other factors -- living alone and having a lack of
social support. Also, teens suffer from anxiety and substance abuse often due
to transitioning from child to adult.
- Conditions such as cancer, heart disease, thyroid problems,
chronic pain, and many others increase your risk of becoming depressed and
- Trauma, such as violence or physical or emotional abuse --
whether it's early in life or more recent -- can trigger depression, anxiety,
and post traumatic stress disorder. So can grief after the death of a friend or
- It's not surprising that
people might become depressed and anxious during stressful times -- such as
during a divorce or while caring for a sick relative. Yet even positive changes
-- like getting married or starting a new job -- can sometimes trigger a mental
- Many prescription drugs
can cause symptoms of depression, anxiety, paranoia, or delusions. Alcohol or
substance abuse is common in depressed people. However, it often makes their
- Adjustment Disorder: (very common) occurs when a person develops emotional or behavioral symptoms in
response to a stressful event or situation. The stressors may include natural
disasters, such as an earthquake or tornado; events or crises, such as a car
accident or the diagnosis of a major illness; or interpersonal problems, such
as a divorce, death of a loved one, loss of
a job, or a problem with substance abuse. Adjustment disorder usually begins
within three months of the event or situation and ends within six months after
the stressor stops or is eliminated.
- Impulse Control Disorders: People with this disorder are unable to resist urges, or impulses, to perform acts that could
be harmful to themselves or others. Pyromania (starting fires) and Kleptomania
(stealing), are examples of impulse control disorders. Alcohol and Drug Abuse
and Compulsive Gambling are common objects of addictions. Often, people with these
disorders become so involved with the objects of their addiction that they
begin to ignore responsibilities and relationships.
- Anxiety Disorders: People with anxiety disorders
respond to certain objects or situations with fear and dread, as well as with
physical signs of anxiety or nervousness, such as a rapid heartbeat and
sweating. An anxiety disorder is diagnosed if the person's response is not
appropriate for the situation, if the person cannot control the response, or if
the anxiety interferes with normal functioning.
Anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
(OCD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and specific Phobias.
- Mood Disorders: These are also called affective disorders and involve persistent feelings
of sadness or periods of feeling overly happy, or fluctuations from extreme
happiness to extreme sadness. The most common mood disorders are clinical depression, mania, and bipolar disorder. People with Depression
tend to view the world in an excessively pessimistic or hopeless light and can
have thoughts of suicide; there is no expectation that things will improve and
often this dismal state of affairs is perceived as being their own
responsibility. Individuals suffering from a mild form of illness are
distressed by their symptoms, but able to continue activities in all areas of
life albeit with greater efforts. However, the more severe the illness, the
greater the disability is from depression. Mania causes overly
happy feelings, irritability, talking very fast about a lot of things, sleep
problems, and a desire to do very risky things. People with Bipolar Disorder go through unusual mood changes. There are uncontrolled
episodes of depression and mania.
- Psychotic Disorders: These involve
distorted awareness and thinking. Two of the most common symptoms of psychotic
disorders are hallucinations -- the experience of images or sounds that are not
real, such as hearing voices -- and delusions -- false beliefs that the ill
person accepts as true, despite evidence to the contrary. Schizophrenia is an example of a psychotic disorder.
- Eating Disorders: These involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors involving weight and food. Anorexia, Bulimia nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder are the most common eating disorders.
Important Information about
Co-occurring Drug Abuse & Mental Illness
two disorders or illnesses occur simultaneously in the same person, they are
called Co-occurring. Surveys show that drug abuse and other mental illnesses
are often co-occurring. Six out of ten people with a substance use disorder
also suffer from another form of mental illness. But the high prevalence of
these co-occurring disorders does not mean that one condition caused the other,
even if one appeared first. In fact, there are at least three scenarios that we
- drug abuse can cause a mental illness
- mental illness can lead to drug abuse
- drug abuse and mental disorders are both caused by other
common risk factors
reality, all three scenarios can contribute, in varying degrees, to the
establishment of specific co-occurring mental disorders and addiction.
Do Drug Abuse and Mental Disorders Commonly Co-occur?
1. Overlapping genetic
vulnerabilities. Mounting evidence suggests that common genetic factors may
predispose individuals to both mental disorders and addiction or to having a greater
risk of the second disorder once the first appears.
2. Overlapping environmental triggers. Stress, trauma
(e.g., physical or sexual abuse), and early exposure to drugs are common
factors that can lead to addiction and to mental illness, particularly in those
with underlying genetic vulnerabilities.
3. Involvement of similar brain
regions. Some areas of
the brain are affected by both drug abuse and mental disorders. For example,
brain circuits linked to reward processing as well as those implicated in the
stress response are affected by abused substances and also show abnormalities
in specific mental disorders.
4. Drug abuse and mental illness are
developmental disorders. They often begin in adolescence or even childhood, periods
when the brain is undergoing dramatic developmental changes. Early exposure to
drugs of abuse can change the brain in ways that increase the risk for mental
illness (figure), just as early symptoms of a mental disorder may increase
vulnerability to drug abuse.
Common Are Co-occurring Drug Abuse and Mental Disorders?
Compared with the general population, patients with mood or
anxiety disorders are about twice as likely to also suffer from a drug disorder
and patients with drug disorders are roughly twice as likely to be diagnosed
with mood or anxiety disorders. The rates of specific co-occurring disorders
also vary by gender. Among men and women in drug treatment, antisocial
personality disorder is more common in men, while women have higher rates of
major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other anxiety disorders.
Important Information about
Behavioral addictions are patterns of behavior, which follow a cycle similar to that of substance dependence.
the term addiction has been used to describe dependence on substances,
such as alcohol and other drugs. More recently, addiction has been
applied to a range of behaviors.
begins with the individual experiencing pleasure in association with a behavior
and seeking that behavior out, initially as a way of enhancing their experience
of life, and later, as a way of coping with stress. The process of seeking out
and engaging in the behavior becomes more frequent and ritualized, until it
becomes a significant part of the person's daily life. When the person is
addicted, they experience urges or cravings to engage in the behavior, which
intensify until the person carries out the behavior again, usually feeling
relief and elation.
consequences of the behavior may occur, but the individual persists with the
behavior in spite of this. Examples
of addictive behaviors include:
- Problem Gambling
- Sexual Activities
- Food and Eating
- Computer Games
addictions are real, in that they follow the same pattern as substance-based
addictions and they result in problems in many areas of the individual's life.
They have similar effects on relationships, which are often neglected in favor
of the addictive behavior, undermining trust and putting pressure on partners
and other family members to cover up and make up for difficulties arising from
the addiction. Addiction to these behaviors involves similar brain mechanisms
to substance-based addictions.
What is Internet addiction or Computer addiction? Internet
Addiction, otherwise known as computer addiction, online addiction, or internet
addiction disorder (IAD), covers a variety of impulse-control problems,
- Cybersex Addiction
– compulsive use of Internet pornography, adult chat rooms, or adult fantasy
role-play sites impacting negatively on real-life intimate relationships.
- Cyber-Relationship Addiction – addiction to social networking, chat rooms and
messaging to the point where virtual, online friends become more important than
real-life relationships with family and friends.
- Net Compulsions
– such as compulsive online gaming, gambling, stock trading, or compulsive use
of online auction sites such as eBay, often resulting in financial and
- Information Overload
– compulsive web surfing or database searching, leading to lower work
productivity and less social interaction with family and friends.
- Computer Addiction
– obsessive playing of off-line computer games, such as Solitaire or
Minesweeper, or obsessive computer programming.
most common of these Internet addictions are cybersex, online gambling, and
What is a Sexual
Addiction? New York-based sex therapist
Mavis Humes Baird defines it as any sexually related activity that is having a
destructive effect on your life. Sufferers latch on to a behavior -
masturbation, pornography, anonymous hookups, or standard affairs - until it
starts to take over their lives. "The physical symptoms include intense
cravings, high tolerance, loss of control, and, in the later stages, dependence
and compulsion," Humes Baird explains. "And the mental symptoms are
obsession, denial, and the illusion of control. For addicts, there's always a
progression - you seek more of the behavior despite its devastating
consequences on your life." This might mean blowing the rent money on porn
sites, trolling Craigslist for unprotected sex with strangers, or putting a
loving marriage at risk over a meaningless affair. And just as a heroin addict chases a
substance-induced high, sex addicts are bingeing on chemicals - in this case,
their own hormones, says Alex Katehakis, a licensed family and sex therapist
and the clinical director of the L.A.-based Center for Healthy Sex.
"They're seeking the neurochemical cascades resulting from their addictive
What is a Food
who are addicted to food tend to display many of the characteristics of addicts
and alcoholics. Food addicts develop a physical, mental, emotional craving and
chemical addiction to food.
The characteristics of food addicts can
obsessed and/or preoccupied with food.
a lack of self-control when it comes to food.
a compulsion about food in which eating results in a cycle of bingeing despite
a sense of pleasure and/or comfort with food and being unable to stop using
food to create a sense of pleasure and comfort.
a need to eat which results in a physical craving.
Are the Signs of Food Addiction? Only
the food addict can determine whether there is food addiction. The following
are questions that potential food addicts may ask themselves:
I tried but failed to control my eating?
- Do I
find myself hiding food or secretly bingeing?
- Do I
have feelings of guilt or remorse after eating?
- Do I
eat because of emotions?
- Is my
weight affecting my way of life?
addicts also may have symptoms including headaches, insomnia, irritability,
mood changes, and depression.
Shopping Addiction Almost everyone shops to some degree, but only about 6% of
the U.S. population is thought to have a shopping addiction. Usually beginning
in the late teens and early adulthood, shopping addiction often co-occurs with
other disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders,
eating disorders, other impulse control disorders, and personality disorders.
what makes the difference between normal shopping, occasional splurges, and
shopping addiction? As with all addictions, shopping becomes the person’s main
way of coping with stress, to the point where they continue to shop excessively
even when it is clearly having a negative impact on other areas of their life.
As with other addictions, finances and relationships are damaged, yet the shopping
addict feels unable to stop or even control their spending.
are several characteristics that shopping addiction shares with other
addictions. As with other addictions, shopping addicts become preoccupied with
spending, and devote significant time and money to the activity. Actual
spending is important to the process of shopping addiction; window shopping
does not constitute an addiction, and the addictive pattern is actually driven
by the process of spending money.
with other addictions, shopping addiction is highly ritualized and follows a
typically addictive pattern of thoughts about shopping, planning shopping
trips, and the shopping act itself, often described as pleasurable, ecstatic
even, and as providing relief from negative feelings. Finally, the shopper
crashes, with feelings of disappointment, particularly with him/herself.
shoppers use shopping as a way of escaping negative feelings, such as
depression, anxiety, boredom, self-critical thoughts, and anger. Unfortunately,
the escape is short-lived. The purchases are often simply hoarded unused, and
compulsive shoppers will then begin to plan the next spending spree. Most shop
alone, although some shop with others who enjoy it. Generally, it will lead to
embarrassment to shop with people who don’t share this type of enthusiasm for
addiction is very similar to the other behavioral addictions. Hoarding is the excessive obtaining and accumulating of things that cause
problems in your life.