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Mental Illness, including Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression and More

Demi Lovato smiling at a microphone

Demi Lovato

“It’s important to speak up about the things you believe in, because your voice will be heard no matter what position you’re in. I just happen to be in a position where more people would hear my voice.”

Demi Lovato, Barney and Friends, Camp Rock, Sonny With a Chance

Journalist Jane Pauley and actress Catherine Zeta-Jones also have
bipolar disorder. Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez and Crazy
Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom have anxiety. Actress Kristen
Bell and television host Ellen DeGeneres have depression.

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one-in-five Americans lives with some form of mental illness. Say “person with a mental illness,” not “crazy,” “psycho” or “lunatic.”

Anxiety is made up of a number of disorders that cause fear as well as severe worrying to the point where it begins to take over a person’s life, according to NAMI. It is classified as the most common health disorder in the U.S. Although general anxiety is classified as normal, anxiety disorders are more difficult to cope with. Eighteen percent of adults in the U.S. have an anxiety disorder. Eight percent of children experience anxiety disorders as well.

Bipolar disorder is defined as a brain disorder that tends to cause unusual shifts in mood, energy and day-to-day activities. Changes in mood are more evident for those who possess bipolar disorder. The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder often consist of altered sleep patterns, unusual behaviors and changing activity levels. Many people who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder have another illness such as anxiety disorder or substance abuse. Family genes and brain structure contribute to the disorder. Two and half percent of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Eighty-three percent of cases are classified as severe. According to the NAMI, an estimated 10 million people live with bipolar disorder.

Depression is a serious mental illness that negatively impacts how a person feels, thinks and behaves around others. Feelings of sadness and a loss of interest are the most obvious symptoms of depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association. If not treated appropriately, emotional and physical problems can occur as a result of depression. Symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe. Depression can come into a person’s life at any time, but the most common times are the late teens or mid 20’s. The death of a loved one, loss of a job or end of a relationship can result in severe depression. Seven percent of the population has had at least one depressive episode, which are 16 million adults in total. Depression does not discriminate by racial background or socioeconomic status.

National organizations for people with mental illness:

  • The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law was founded in 1972 by a group of committed lawyers and professionals in mental health and mental disabilities. In decades of landmark advocacy, the Bazelon Center has led the way in efforts to define and advance the rights of people with mental disabilities in many aspects of their lives. On the federal policy front, the Bazelon Center’s leadership in the mental health arena is reflected in laws and policies that today protect the rights of people with mental disabilities and fund critical services for them.
  • Mental Health America (MHA), founded in 1909, is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. Their work is driven by their commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, and integrated care and treatment for those who need it, with recovery as the goal.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the foundation for hundreds of NAMI State Organizations, NAMI Affiliates and volunteer leaders who work in local communities to raise awareness and provide essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs. NAMI is a nonprofit membership organization.
  • The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s health care organizations that deliver mental health and addictions treatment and services. Together with 2,900 member organizations serving more than 10 million adults, children and families living with mental illnesses and addictions, the National Council is committed to all Americans having access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery.

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