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How to recognize alcoholism, depression, and other mental disorders
How to recognize alcoholism, depression, and other mental disorders

More than a billion people worldwide suffer from mental disorders. And you can be one of them.

How to recognize alcoholism, depression, and other mental disorders
How to recognize alcoholism, depression, and other mental disorders

Some statistics

Mental (or mental) disorders are not uncommon in the modern world. According to 2016 data, a couple of years ago, there were more than 1.1 billion people around the world with some kind of mental illness.

In total, The DSM-5: The Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders distinguishes about 300 types of disorders. The Mental Health study provides statistics on the distribution of the most common of them:

  • anxiety disorder, 275 million;
  • depression - 268 million;
  • alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) 100 million
  • drug use disorder (excluding alcohol) 62 million
  • bipolar disorder - 40 million;
  • schizophrenia - 21 million;
  • eating disorder (anorexia and bulimia) - 10, 5 million.

Each country has its own prevalence of mental disorders. So, for example, in Russia the first place is occupied by Mental Health alcoholism, and depression and anxiety disorders - the second and third, respectively.

Like any disease, mental problems can be diagnosed and must be treated. You can't hope for chance. You cannot get rid of these diseases in a week with the help of pills and hot tea, like from ARVI, and you certainly cannot do it alone - there should be support at all stages.

Signs of a mental disorder

Despite the widespread prevalence of mental disorders, the causes of many of them are not fully known.

All mental processes are brain processes, therefore mental disorders are biological diseases. The brain is the organ of the mind. Where else can mental illness be concentrated if not in the brain?

Eric Kandel MD, Professor of Biochemistry, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University (New York, USA), Nobel Prize Laureate

Unfortunately, a mental disorder cannot be detected with a blood test, like most other diseases. In addition, the process of the course of the disease is individual, and a lot depends on its nature, which creates additional difficulties in diagnosis.

Common signs

Public organization Mental Health America has compiled a list of alarms to watch out for:

  • confused thinking;
  • prolonged depression, sadness, or irritability;
  • increased arousal or a sharp decrease in activity;
  • excessive anxiety and obsessive fears;
  • social isolation;
  • a sharp change in eating habits and daily routine;
  • strange thoughts (delusional illusions);
  • hallucinations;
  • a progressive inability to cope with daily tasks that were previously easy;
  • suicidal thoughts;
  • unreasonable physical illness;
  • abuse of illegal drugs or alcohol.

The presence of at least two signs from the list is already a reason to contact a specialist.

On the organization's website, you can go to the signs of a specific mental disorder, such as depression, an eating disorder, or addiction.

Signs of alcoholism

  • Irresistible urge to drink, on the verge of necessity.
  • Inability to control the amount of alcohol consumed. The person is not aware of the degree of intoxication.
  • The emergence of withdrawal syndrome. It occurs when you quit alcohol or significantly reduce its dose and is not a common hangover. Among the characteristic symptoms: increased sweating, loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, tachycardia, nausea, anxiety and fear, and in an especially acute form - the appearance of hallucinations and suicidal thoughts.
  • Perception of alcohol as a remedy for withdrawal.
  • Decreased susceptibility to alcohol. It takes more and more dose for intoxication to occur.
  • Ignoring other interests in favor of alcohol.
  • Ignoring the obvious and proven harm of alcohol, as well as the fact of disgusting health the next day.

To talk about serious alcohol addiction, you must fall under at least three signs.

Signs of depression

Depression is an insidious and dangerous disease that, in its most acute forms, can provoke suicidal tendencies. It can also be a sign of more serious problems, such as bipolar disorder.

Seek help immediately if you notice several of these symptoms at the same time in yourself or your loved one:

  • permanent sadness and anxiety, a feeling of emptiness;
  • feeling of hopelessness;
  • increased irritability;
  • unreasonable feeling of guilt, own uselessness and helplessness;
  • loss of interest in hobbies or a complete lack of pleasure in what you love;
  • constant feeling of tiredness;
  • slowing down of speech and movements;
  • excessive anxiety;
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions;
  • trouble sleeping (waking up too early or sleeping too long);
  • changes in appetite and weight;
  • thoughts of death or suicide;
  • unreasonable headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that can't even be cured by medication.

Depression should not be underestimated. This is a real disease that can lead to irreparable consequences.

Signs of General Anxiety Disorder

The feeling of anxiety is familiar to everyone, it is a part of our life. It's okay to worry about an important interview or public speaking, but it's okay in moderation. When anxiety develops into a mental disorder, it does not disappear anywhere, but becomes your faithful companion.

It is worth planning a trip to a specialist if, over the course of several months, you notice the following signs:

  • permanent anxiety and nervousness;
  • fast fatiguability;
  • difficulty concentrating;
  • irritability;
  • muscle tension;
  • inability to manage your anxiety;
  • sleep problems (difficult to fall asleep, difficult to wake up, and restless and intermittent sleep).

The problem can be recognized not only by general anxiety. There are also more specific manifestations:

  • Panic disorder is unexpected attacks of unwarranted fear (panic attacks) that are accompanied by chest pain, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, or dizziness. Panic attack symptoms often mimic those of a heart attack.
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) - the emergence of severe fear and increased anxiety in connection with various social situations (new acquaintances, public speaking, eating in a public place).
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder is the involuntary appearance of obsessive thoughts (obsessions), which a person tries to get rid of with the help of rituals - obsessive actions (compulsions).
  • Post-traumatic stress - prolonged increased anxiety (several months), an overwhelming feeling of fear and helplessness after psychological trauma (robbery, rape, death of a loved one).
  • Phobias are pronounced obsessive fears that cannot be overcome on their own.

Obstacles to Problem Acceptance

Before solving a problem, it must be discovered and, importantly, recognized. The topic of mental disorders is not that taboo, but not everyone dares to talk about them directly. No one is ashamed to take sick leave for angina, but it is not always easy to take time off from work for a psychotherapist session.

Not everyone takes mental disorders seriously, and those in need of help are afraid that, as soon as they announce their problem, they will immediately be hung with one of the labels.

Misconception about the problem in society

Depression is not about "drinking coffee on the windowsill, dreaming about it." This is completely different. It happens that the term is used in a context that has nothing to do with the disease: they complain of a depression after the death of a favorite hero of the series or because of a broken nail.

Depression is simplified. An absolutely wrong opinion about the problem is formed due to the lack of association with the clinical disease, which depression really is.

Special treatment for people with mental disorders

Fear of being branded as a madman may seem like a compelling argument for many not to seek psychological help from a specialist. Unfortunately, everyone has to deal with tactless people who, for inexplicable reasons, do not see the difference between acceptable and unacceptable. But in no case should they stand in the way between you and your health.

With an increase in the percentage of people suffering from mental disorders, the number of help and support centers increases, and at the same time, the population's awareness of this acute problem increases. Hopefully, perception will change dramatically soon.

Fear of being alone

You are not alone, you are one of over a billion people with a similar problem. And having recognized this, it is very important to carry out a timely diagnosis and start treatment. There are remote support centers that are ready to provide assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


It is important to remember that only a specialist can make a diagnosis. However, it is your task to take the first step and turn to him at least for advice.

In addition, your task is to help those who find themselves in difficult situations. If you notice clear symptoms of a mental disorder in a friend or relative, and he categorically refuses to acknowledge them, then you will be responsible for supporting a loved one.

It is often the first steps that are the most difficult, and after taking them, you will realize that you are already on the path to recovery.