Psychiatric disorders affect the way a person thinks and behaves based on abnormal perceptions caused by mental illness. Some of the most frequently diagnosed types of psychiatric disorders include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Additional mental illnesses include borderline personality disorder, anorexia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Most people who have suspected mental illnesses are referred to a type of doctor known as a psychiatrist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Schizophrenia is among the more commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders and requires intensive monitoring and life-long treatment. Those who suffer from this type of mental illness often experience delusional thinking, hallucinations, and erratic or unpredictable behavior. A person with schizophrenia may appear to be unable to express emotion and may exhibit inappropriate responses, such as yelling or becoming violent for no apparent reason.
Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic depressive disorder, is one of the most well known and well publicized psychiatric disorders. A person with this psychological illness alternates between manic and depressive episodes, often leading to great difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships with others. During a manic episode, the affected person may seem to have a lot of energy and may engage is uncharacteristically risky behavior, such as unsafe sexual practices or irresponsible spending habits. A depressive episode may cause withdrawal from others, disinterest in activities that are normally enjoyed, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a psychological condition that develops as a result of a traumatic event such as war, rape, or childhood abuse. Those with this condition have flashbacks of the trauma and often live in a state of constant fear or anxiety. Many people with this disorder turn to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to cope with the intense emotions and inappropriate responses associated with the illness.
Borderline personality disorder causes many of the same symptoms as other psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and may sometimes be misdiagnosed as one of these conditions. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are mental disturbances that cause unhealthy attitudes toward body perception or food. Generalized anxiety disorder may cause an almost constant state of worry or panic and can lead to physical symptoms such as chest pain, muscle tension, and shortness of breath. Doctors who suspect the presence of psychiatric disorders usually send patients to specialists such as psychiatrists or psychologists for further evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.