Mental disorders, conditions and illness defined

Mental disorder conditions and symptoms, and how to get help.

Is your high-school graduate stressed out?

Another school year is about to end and the graduating class of 2015 will embark on their new journey. This transition can be one of the most stressful due to all the changes that tend to take place. Moving away from home and family, living alone or with strangers, managing schedules and money management responsibilities can all be overwhelming for first-timers. Parents need to be as supportive as possible watch for possible anxiety and other mental health issues that can appear in late adolescence and the early 20’s.

Mayo Clinic defines mental illness as “a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior.” Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. A mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.

There are a variety of symptoms of anxiety depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but Mayo Clinic says that general symptoms include: Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness, problems sleeping, cold or sweaty hands and/or feet, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, an inability to be still and calm, dry mouth, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, nausea, muscle tension, and dizziness.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the American Psychiatric Association's standard reference for psychiatry, which includes over 450 different definitions of mental disorders. DSM says that there are a variety of disorders that are categorized as mental illnesses, including: Panic disorders, social anxiety disorder, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder.

If you or someone you know has symptoms of an anxiety disorder or other symptoms that have not been diagnosed as a physical condition, consult a doctor to begin a conversation about the symptoms. If no physical illness is found, you may be referred (or you can asked to be referred) to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health professional that is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illness. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate and make diagnoses. Learn more at

People with a mental illness need to be treated without judgment or discrimination, just like anyone who has a physical illness. The best support is to become educated about the illness and ask how you can help. Most therapy provides family support services.

Michigan State University Extension offers social-emotional health, community-based programming. MSU Extension’s social-emotional wellbeing programs are general educational programs that provide education about stress and anger management, bullying, nurturing parenting skills and safe dating for adolescents. Find a program in your area by looking for events at

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