Other mental health disorders

There are a range of other mental health conditions which may reduce your quality of life. Support and counselling can help you understand what you might be going through so you can get on with life.

Adjustment disorders

Adjustment disorders are psychological reactions to a stressful situation that are more extreme than would be expected relative to the severity of the stressor, and cause distress and impairment in daily functioning. An adjustment disorder may be triggered by the loss of an important relationship, financial difficulties or being a victim of a crime. They usually stop within six months of the event.

Symptoms can include:

  • anxiety such as nervousness, worry, excessive fear
  • depression, including low mood, negative thoughts, tearfulness
  • behaviour changes like aggression, recklessness, irresponsibility
  • significant impairments in functioning in the workplace/school, or in everyday life

For more information, see the US National Library of Medicine.

Personality disorders

Our personality shapes how we view the world, relate to other people, and manage our emotions and behaviours.

A personality disorder is when a person’s usual personality is extreme, unusual or difficult. It may cause distress or problems for them or people around them.

There are several different types of personality disorder. Some involve the person being 'odd' or eccentric, overly dramatic and emotional, or anxious and fearful.

More information on personality disorders is available from Head to health

Eating disorders

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the most common examples of disturbed eating.

Anorexia nervosa is characterised by problems maintaining healthy body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and an obsession with thinness. Life-threatening medical complications may develop. Women may stop getting their period, there can be damage to the kidneys or colon, and fine hair can grow all over the body as a result of malnutrition.

Bulimia nervosa is characterised by eating binges followed by purging to avoid weight gain by self-induced vomiting, or use of laxatives or diuretics. Medical complications including damage to tooth enamel, dehydration, intestinal and stomach problems.

More information on eating disorders is available from Head to health.

Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders

Schizophrenia disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. It causes intense episodes of psychosis involving delusions and/or hallucinations. It may result in longer periods of reduced expression, motivation and functioning.

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder in which the symptoms have been present for at least six months.

Psychosis usually starts in younger people. Identification of early symptoms, such as odd ideas or social withdrawal, can assist people to receive early treatment.

'Psychosis' is used to describe a range of symptoms, including:

  • delusions, such as believing that an alien controls them
  • hallucinations, such as hearing voices when alone
  • confused thinking involves difficulties putting sentences together
  • changed behaviour may include a loss of energy and withdrawal from family and friends

Schizophrenia does not involve 'split personalities' that can change in a heartbeat. This is a Hollywood fiction. It is also a fiction that schizophrenia can't be treated. With support, someone with schizophrenia can lead a relatively normal and productive life.

More information on schizophrenia is available from Head to health.

Other types of psychotic disorders include delusional disorder, schizoaffective disorder, brief psychotic disorder and drug-induced psychosis. More information is available from Orygen Youth Health Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (PDF).

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder (previously known as 'manic depression') is a mood disorder. It involves periods of mania or elation, as well as periods of depression.

When experiencing mania, a person feels euphoric or 'high' although irritability and anger can also occur.

Other symptoms include:

  • racing ideas
  • inflated self-esteem or self-importance
  • fast and pressured speech
  • less need for sleep
  • high energy, impulsive or risky behaviour
  • excessive spending
  • grand plans or delusions (like 'I am a god with special powers').

Manic episodes cause significant disruption to relationships, work and study, and can result in the person being hospitalised. A less severe form of mania is referred to as hypomania.

The depressive episodes that occur in bipolar disorder are quite similar to regular episodes of depression (that is, those not associated with manic episodes). More information about bipolar disorder is available from beyondblue.

If you are concerned about your wellbeing or safety due to unmanageable thoughts, or those of a loved one, contact Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling on 1800 011 046 for counselling. Counselling is free and confidential.

If the risk to you or a loved one is life threatening, call 000.