The Link Between Depression & Other Mental Illness (cont.)

PTSD can begin at any age and generally begins to show up within three months after experiencing a trauma, although this is not always the case. Like other anxieties, severity and duration of the symptoms vary with each individual, and other illnesses and disorders may occur along with PTSD. For example, almost 50% of people with PTSD also experience depression. Substance abuse, headache, stomach and immune system problems, chest pain, and dizziness are also common, co-occurring conditions.

Treatment

For all of the aforementioned psychiatric illnesses and disorders, treatment can be very successful. For anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, social phobia, and panic disorder, antidepressant medicines and/or cognitive behavioral therapy are most commonly used. As a person undergoes cognitive behavioral therapy, he or she is taught how to identify thinking patterns that may lead to anxiety attacks. Since many of these thinking patterns are deeply ingrained, practice is often needed to notice and change them. This form of therapy also teaches patients how to calm themselves during an attack, and to "desensitize" themselves to feelings of unease or terror. For posttraumatic stress disorder, group therapy and exposure therapy are also useful.

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intense, recurrent, unwanted thoughts and rituals that are beyond the person's control. Examples of these rituals can include hand washing, counting, checking, hoarding, repeating, cleaning and the endless rearranging of objects in order to ensure they are in precise alignment. To the person affected, these rituals and thoughts are recognized as senseless and distressing, but extremely difficult to control. If the person does not perform these rituals, anxiety increases dramatically and the person becomes concerned that something terrible will happen because of his or her neglect.

While anxiety disorders generally affect women more often than men, OCD affects both genders equally. However, the degree to which OCD affects each person varies. For some it is mild, but for others, it can control their lives if left untreated. This disorder is typically first seen in adolescence or early childhood. OCD is sometimes accompanied not only by depression, but also eating disorders, substance abuse, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) and other anxiety disorders. OCD affects more than 3 million Americans in any given year.