Fear and anxiety are part of life. You may feel anxious before you take a test or walk down a dark street. This kind of anxiety is useful - it can make you more alert or careful. It usually ends soon after you are out of the situation that caused it. But for millions of people in the United States, anxiety does not go away, and gets worse over time. They may have chest pains or nightmares. They may even be afraid to leave home. These people have anxiety disorders.
Treatment can involve medicines, therapy or both.
Is it hard for your child to sit still? Does your child act without thinking first? Does your child start but not finish things? If so, your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD for short.) Nearly everyone shows some of these behaviors at times, but ADHD lasts more than 6 months and causes problems in school, at home and in social situations.
ADHD is more common in boys than girls, and it affects 3-5 percent of children in the United States. The principal characteristics of ADHD are
No one knows exactly what causes ADHD. It runs in families, so genetics may be a factor. A complete evaluation by a trained professional is the only way to know for sure if your child has ADHD. Treatment often includes medicines to control symptoms. Structure at home and at school is also important. Parenting classes or behavioral therapy may also help.
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. People who have it experience dramatic mood swings. They may go from overly energetic, "high" and/or irritable, to sad and hopeless, and then back again. They often have normal moods in between. The up feeling is called mania. The down feeling is depression.
Bipolar disorder can run in families. It usually starts in late adolescence or early adulthood. If you think you may have it, tell your health care provider. A medical checkup can rule out other illnesses that might cause your mood changes.
Untreated, bipolar disorder can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. However, there are effective treatments: medicines and "talk therapy". A combination usually works best.
Also called: Clinical depression, Dysthymic disorder, Major depressive disorder, Unipolar depression
Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It's more than just a feeling of being "down in the dumps" or "blue" for a few days. If you are one of the more than 20 million people in the United States who have depression, the feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms can include
* Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
* Change in weight
* Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
* Energy loss
* Feelings of worthlessness
* Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression can run in families, and usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30. It is much more common in women. Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Depression is one part of bipolar disorder.
There are effective treatments for depression, including antidepressants and talk therapy. Most people do best by using both.