Andrew Jacob Memorial Foundation

Andrew Jacob Memorial Foundation -

Mental Health Disorders

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About Mental Health Disorders

General Information

  • Approximately 90% of people who have died by suicide suffered from at least one mental health disorder
  • Most mental health disorders are a result of a combination of genetics, individual biology and environmental factors, there is not a single cause for any disorder
  • Every mental health disorder is unique to the individual suffering from it
  • But, you are not alone. Around 26% of American adults are diagnosed with a mental health disorder in any given year, and 20% of Canadians will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.
  • Treatment and remission is possible for most disorders, and many people living with mental health disorders can lead nor­mal lives
  • This information does not cover all types of mental health disorders and is meant as an overview for those listed


Mood Disorders

Major depressive disorder and bipolar dis­order are classified as mood disorders. They are characterized by extreme emotional states, depression (lows) and mania (highs). An esti­mated 8%-20% of the population has or will experience a depressive episode in their lives. Of those with symptoms severe enough for hospitalization, 15% die by suicide.

Common symptoms of major depression:

  • depressed mood
  • loss of pleasure (anhedonia)
  • significant weight loss or gain
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • lack of energy
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • difficulty thinking or concentration
  • suicidal ideations or attempts

 Common symptoms of bipolar disorder (type 1):

  • abnormally expansive elevated mood
  • inflated self esteem
  • diminished need for sleep
  • need to keep talking
  • racing thoughts
  • distracted attention
  • increase in goal directed activity
  • over indulgence in pleasurable activities

Mood disorders are treated with a combina­tion of different medications, such as anti­depressants for major depression and mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder. They are also treated through counselling, such as cogni­tive-behaviour therapy and support groups.


Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can include phobias (intense fears of certain things or situations), panic dis­orders, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety. About 18% of the US population have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and 1 in 4 Canadians will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Nearly a half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. It has been shown that the rate of suicidal ide­ation or attempt is higher for individuals with an anxiety disorder as well as a mood disorder compared to a mood disorder alone.These dis­orders are normally treated with a combina­tion of cognitive-behaviour therapy, medica­tion, support groups, and self help strategies.



Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects the way you understand and interact with the world. Approximately 1 in 100 people develop schizo­phrenia. More than 40% of those with schizo­phrenia attempt suicide, and 10-15% of them die by suicide. Symptoms of schizophrenia fall into two different categories, positive and neg­ative. Positive symptoms are behaviours that those with schizophrenia experience and those without schizophrenia do not. Negative symp­toms are traits or behaviours that are absent or diminished in those with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is treated with a combination of medication and psychosocial therapy.

Positive symptoms:

  • delusions (fixed, false beliefs that are not consistent with the person’s culture, and have no basis in fact)
  • hallucinations (hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, or feeling things that don’t exist)
  • disorganized thoughts (unable to com­municate clearly with others)
  • disorganized moods (inappropriate feel­ings; lack of emotion)
  • disorganized behaviour (unable to com­plete simple, everyday tasks)
  • changes in sensitivity (more sensitive and aware of other people; or withdrawn)

Negative symptoms:

  • slowing of physical activity levels
  • reduced motivation (problems finishing tasks or making long-term plans)
  • loss of interest in the feelings and lives of others
  • less concern for personal appearance


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is comprised of obsessions and com­pulsions, and those that suffer with the disor­der can experience either or both. Obsessions are unwanted repetitive thoughts, urges, and images. They are not thoughts that a person would normally focus on. Compulsions are actions performed that are meant to reduce the anxiety of the obsessions. These can take the form of washing, cleaning, and ordering things in a specific way. Often people who suffer from OCD repeat an action or a phrase a certain number of times. OCD can take up a lot of time and prevent people from lead­ing their normal lives. Different studies have suggested that anywhere between 5%-25% of those who suffer from OCD attempt sui­cide. It is often treated with counselling and medication.