Mental Illness Terms

You don’t have to be an expert on mental illness to get help. But the more you know, the easier it will be to understand how to manage it. Following are some general topics and terms that may apply to you or your family.

Scroll or download a PDF file here.

Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress that helps a person cope with a tense situation. The symptoms of anxiety can be extreme social inhibition, obsession, compulsion or a phobia, and they can all be persistent and often overwhelming. Many times, physical symptoms including heart palpitations, increased blood pressure and chest pain accompany anxiety disorders.

Treatment for anxiety is widely available and includes medication and counseling. Mental health professionals can offer information about mood disorders including anxiety as well as various treatment options.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. The symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe and differ from the normal ups and downs that everyone experiences from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But it can be treated, and people with this illness can go on to live full and productive lives.


Health statistics from the Mayo Clinic indicate that mental illness in children can be hard for parents to identify. As a result, many children who could benefit from treatment don’t get the help they need. Children can experience a range of mental health conditions including anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, eating disorders, mood disorders, and schizophrenia. Mental health professionals will help you understand the warning signs of mental illness in children and what you can do to help your child cope.


Each one of us has felt sad or blue, but major depression goes well beyond temporary feelings of sadness. Roughly 25 million Americans will have at least one episode of major depression this year, and medical professionals estimate that depression affects 5-8% of adults in the United States.

Depression affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, mood and physical health. It occurs 70 percent more frequently in women than in men for reasons that are not fully understood. Without treatment, the frequency and severity of these symptoms tend to increase over time, leading to serious impairment in daily functioning and even suicide, which is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.


Once called shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome, PTSD is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened.

PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war or natural disaster. Families of victims can also develop PTSD, as can emergency personnel and rescue workers.


Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. Schizophrenia is usually characterized by hallucinations and delusions with changes in behavior, thinking and feeling. People with schizophrenia may hear voices other people don’t hear and may believe that other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. This can terrify people with the illness and make them withdrawn or extremely agitated. Because schizophrenia can be so debilitating, it is important to seek care as early as possible

Substance Abuse

Also known as drug abuse, substance abuse is a patterned use of a substance (drug) in which the user consumes the substance in amounts that are considered harmful to themselves or others. The drugs most often associated with this term include alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, opioids and antipsychotics. Long term personality changes in individuals may occur as well.


There is a strong link between suicide and mental illness, with 90% of the people who die by suicide having an existing mental illness or substance abuse problem at the time of their death. Hopelessness is a strong predictor of suicidal risk, even more so than depressive symptoms or a mood disorder diagnosis. Never ignore comments about suicide. Report them to your loved one’s therapist or doctor or, if necessary, the police.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-TALK

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK is the U.S.-based suicide prevention network of 161 crisis centers, that provides a 24-hour, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. The Lifeline supports people who call for themselves or someone they care about.

Burke — Mental Health Services and Crisis Hotline — — Hotline: 1-800-392-8343

Burke is the largest provider of mental health care services in East Texas. Burke also administers the region’s 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Hotline. Visit for information about Burke’s services or call 936 634-5010 to schedule an appointment.


Source: The Center for Health Care Services Information on Mental Health issues —

Go Back To Main REAL Page