Mental illness is common in the US.

However, just because something is common does not mean that it’s well understood.

There are a lot of misconceptions, myths, and stigmas that surround mental illness today. Here are seven of the most common mental disorders and their popular misconceptions.

1. Attention Deficit Disorder

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ADD is most commonly diagnosed in children, but the mental illness can be carried throughout an entire lifetime, however, the symptoms may change as a child grows.

Symptoms of ADD include the inability to concentrate, being easily distracted, it often seeming like the child is daydreaming or in their own little world.

Get this: ADD and ADHD aren’t interchangeable. Although they’re very similar, they have subtle differences. This surprises a lot of people.
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On average 1 out of 3 children out of a classroom of 30 have ADD/ADHD 


2. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

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Although ADHD is similar to ADD there are some key differences. The biggest difference being that ADHD involves hyperactivity, while ADD doesn’t always.

Symptoms of ADHD include extreme hyperactivity, impulsivity, and the inability to concentrate. Of course, those symptoms alone do not mean that someone can be diagnosed with ADHD.

A common misconception is that people that are hyper or have their head in the clouds should be diagnosed. However, there are a lot more criteria for diagnosing ADHD that doctors look for. 



4.4% of American adults have ADHD--but less than

20%
of those actively seek help for it

3. Anxiety Disorder

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Anxiety is a normal part of life that every living person experiences at some point. But when does it go from normal to mental illness?

Typically, if anxiety starts interfering with your normal life, or if you can’t function from day to day, you should start seeking help to see if you should be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Common symptoms of an anxiety disorder include constant sweating and high rate, difficulty sleeping, and having trouble controlling your worry.

Some people think that if they experience these symptoms for any time period at all, they need a diagnosis.

Not so. A stressful point in someone’s life doesn’t mean they have an anxiety disorder. If you suffer from anxiety you can try meditation or relaxation. These tend to help lower anxiety or stress.

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Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder in the US with 18% of Americans being impacted


4. Depression

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Unfortunately, depression is one of the mental illnesses that comes with a lot of stigmas. Oftentimes people with depression are seen as weak or that it’s their own fault for being depressed. However, depression often comes from inherited traits or an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. These are things that people cannot control.

Although depression is often related to sad feelings, it doesn’t always manifest itself that way. Sometimes people with depression can have angry outbursts even over small things.

Symptoms of depression include feelings of emptiness and hopelessness, loss of pleasure in things that used to give joy, and lack of energy or difficulty sleeping.

6.9%
(16 million people)



of the American population had at least one major depressive episode in the past year


5. Bulimia

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When people think of eating disorders they often think of someone that is severely underweight.

This isn’t always the case. Sometimes people are able to keep their eating disorders a total secret to friends and family, without being severely underweight.

Symptoms of bulimia include repeated cycles of binging and purging, preoccupation or obsession with weight.

Binging involves eating a very large amount of food, sometimes without the ability to control how much is consumed. Binging is followed by purging which is done by misusing laxatives, diuretics, or by vomit-inducing practices.

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5% of American women are believed to suffer from bulimia nervosa in their lifetime


6. Anorexia

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Contrary to many people’s beliefs, anorexia and bulimia are different. Anorexia does not include cycles of binging and purging like bulimia does.

Symptoms of anorexia include the preoccupation or obsession with being thin and the fear of gaining weight, a distorted view of themselves, and refusing to eat or having anxiety about eating in front of others.

Pay attention: Someone with anorexia may be good at hiding it so you may not even know someone close to you has this mental illness.

50-80%
of anorexia is genetic



of the risk for being diagnosed with anorexia is genetic


7. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Although PTSD is often associated with veterans, there are a lot of other people that might experience it. Anyone that has experienced a severe trauma could develop this mental illness.

Symptoms include re-experiencing the trauma through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of certain places or people that could trigger flashbacks, and increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping or feeling jumpy and on edge.

Interestingly enough: Not all traumatic experiences will lead to PTSD. Some people that have experienced something traumatic will never develop PTSD.

On the other hand: Sometimes someone will develop PTSD a while after the trauma has occurred. Just because someone didn’t develop PTSD immediately following a traumatic event, doesn’t mean it won’t develop later on.



An estimated 3.6% of U.S. adults were suffering from PTSD in 2018

3.6
U.S. Adults

Conclusion

Always keep these misconceptions in mind when dealing with mental illness. It's never easy for anyone that has mental illnesses, and you aren't alone as these statistics have shown.

Also be mindful of noticing a pattern with the symptoms for mental illnesses, but don't automatically assume anything without first seeking a therapist. 

Seek help if you or anyone you know is experience medical illness. 

Hopefully this can help more people understand the common misconceptions with mental illness, so please share this to get the word out.

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