Braidwood Times

Fighting for tomorrow: The major mental illnesses impacting the world today

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Photo by Shutterstock.

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Over the years, we've made many advancements in the world, eradicating many of the serious diseases that threaten lives and livelihoods.

Yet, in our day and age, there are still illnesses and conditions that we have not been able to cure, ones that were always there and seem to have progressed over time.

We've managed to uncover these invisible threats, which is one step forward, but the danger of mental illness continues to cause damage.

Mental illness encompasses a wide range of different conditions that may impact a person's emotions, perceptions, thinking and behaviour.

The danger of these illnesses is that they can negatively affect an individual's capacity to navigate daily tasks and activities, maintain relationships, and do their jobs effectively.

Fortunately, many individuals find that a combination of medication and therapy can effectively manage their condition, allowing them to lead fulfilling lives.

What are the major mental illnesses affecting people?

Below are some of the major mental illnesses that many people struggle with:

Bipolar affective disorder

Bipolar affective disorder, commonly known as bipolar, is a complex mood disorder that is distinctively identified by the dramatic shifts of an individual's energy, activity levels and mood.

People diagnosed with bipolar disorder will generally experience manic episodes of intense energy, euphoria, or irritability to depressive episodes of profound sadness or hopelessness.

It's not uncommon for some patients who suffer from bipolar disorder to experience psychotic symptoms, which may cause them to become delusional and hallucinate.

The cause of bipolar disorder remains elusive; however, professionals have found that genetic factors may play a significant role, while environmental stressors can bring about episodes.

A proper diagnosis and a tailored blend of psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and lifestyle adjustments are all necessary to help patients manage this disorder and maintain equilibrium.

Dissociative disorders

When patients experience a disconnect from their thoughts, feelings, memories or even their sense of identity, this is what we refer to as dissociative disorder.

It can be brought about as a response to trauma or stress.

People suffering from dissociative disorders may experience a range of symptoms, from memory gaps pertaining to certain events and personal information.

This is what spurs the feeling of detachment from self or surroundings.

In more complex cases, patients may experience the presence of two or more distinct personality states.

Integrative treatment strategies usually include psychotherapy and sometimes medication in order to achieve a sense of normalcy.

Dissociative disorders may include:

  • Dissociative amnesia
  • Depersonalisation disorder
  • Dissociative identity disorder


Depression is one of the most prominent mental illnesses affecting people in Australia, and most of the world.

Depression is more than experiencing occasional feelings of sadness, rather it is a pervasive mood disorder.

This condition can range from mild to severe and is characterised by an overwhelming and persistent despondency.

Individuals usually lack interest in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed, and there is a noticeable drop in energy levels.

Due to the intense emotional toll depression can take on someone, it can sometimes lead to an increased risk of suicide.

Treating depression includes a comprehensive approach involving therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and social support.

Eating disorders

While certain groups have been identified as more susceptible to suffering from eating disorders, it can affect anyone.

Eating disorders are characterised by the obsessive concern with an individual's weight and food intake, and the impact of such disorders extends beyond psychological distress but causes severe physical health risks, potentially leading to life-threatening issues.

Eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge-eating disorder,

Treating patients with eating disorders requires comprehensive treatment, which usually encompasses psychological therapy, nutritional counselling, and medical oversight in order to restore a healthy mentality towards eating to get them back into healthy eating patterns as well as address any underlying emotional issues.

Child behavioural and emotional disorders

Mental health issues also span children who may experience behavioural and emotional disorders.

These disorders may impact a child's personal development, social interactions and academic performance.

Core conditions in this category include:

  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) - a pattern of defiant, disobedient, and hostile actions toward authority figures
  • Conduct Disorder (CD) - severe behavioural issues that include aggression toward people and animals, deceitfulness and destruction of property
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - patterns of hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity

Treating behavioural and emotional disorders in children requires a multifaceted approach, which generally includes medication, behavioural therapy, and educational support.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are characterised by excessive fear and apprehension and cover a range of different mental health conditions.

Anxiety disorders have the potential to inhibit an individual's functionality severely.

With therapeutic strategies and medical treatment, many affected by these disorders have a good chance of regaining control over their lives.

These disorders include:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobias

Final thoughts

For those who have been inspired to change careers and pursue psychology, then taking a bridging course in psychology with JCU will give you the opportunity to expand your knowledge of various mental illnesses and have you on the path to becoming a registered psychologist so you can make a difference in the lives of those around you.

This information is of a general nature only and should not be regarded as specific to any particular situation. Readers are encouraged to speak with their GP and seek appropriate medical advice based on their personal circumstances.