The treatable conditions addressed on this website fall into three main categories.
Within our site, you will see a long list of various treatable addictions, clinical and behavioral issues and an explanation of what is involved with each specific condition. Treatment is a process and not all conditions are treated the same. When someone makes the leap from casual responsible behavior to irresponsible behavior there is a reason behind it.
These patient stories are excerpted from
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Based on the latest, fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — known as DSM-5® — Understanding Mental Disorders provides valuable insight on what to expect from an illness and its treatment—and will help readers recognize symptoms, know when to seek help, and get the right care.Understanding Mental Disorders is a consumer guide designed to promote education and understanding among anyone who has been touched by mental illness.
Drinking nearly took him down
Keith, a 45-year-old plumber, was referred for a psychiatric evaluation after his family met with him to express their concern about his heavy drinking. Since making the appointment 3 days earlier, Keith denied having a drink.
For 20 years after high school, Keith drank 3-5 beers per evening, five times per week. Over the last 7 years, Keith drank almost daily, with an average of 6 beers on weeknights and 12 beers on weekends and holidays, His wife repeatedly voiced her concern that he was “drinking too much.” Despite his efforts to limit his alcohol intake, Keith spent much of the weekend drinking, sometimes missing family get-togethers, and often passed out while watching TV in the evening. He remained productive at work and never called in sick. Keith was able to stop drinking twice for 1 month in the past 4 years. Both times, he said he had gone “cold turkey” in response to his wife’s concerns. He denied having had symptoms of alcohol withdrawal either time.
Keith had been married for 18 years and had one 17-year-old daughter. He was a high school graduate with 2 years of community college. He owned a successful plumbing company and had never seen a psychiatrist.
Keith was diagnosed with Alcohol use disorder. His lack of success in cutting down, overall time spent intoxicated or recovering from being intoxicated, missed family events, and frequent alcohol use despite problems all fit the criteria for the disorder.
Struggling with body weight
Helena was a 16-year-old girl who lived at home with her parents and younger sister. Throughout her teenage years, she had been a normal weight but she worried a great deal about her body weight and shape. She often compared her body weight with that of other girls and women she met or saw — and then judged herself as too heavy.
Often, Helena checked her body weight by looking in the mirror. She would pinch the skin on her sides and notice that her thighs touched each other. At about age 14 she began to diet, first off and on, and then all the time. At 15, she decided to become a vegetarian and began to cut out many foods from her diet. She was 5’6” and weighed 125 pounds at age 15, but by her 16th birthday, she had dropped to 110 pounds.
Rather than being relieved by this weight loss, she kept seeing herself as too heavy. She weighed herself throughout the day. She spent most of her time worrying about her weight. Time spent on her weight concerns took the place of other activities she used to enjoy, such as school work and having fun with friends. She became more alone. And she kept losing weight.
Her parents became more alarmed about her weight loss and behavior. They talked about this among themselves and started watching and checking her eating behavior at meals. They urged her to eat more often, without success. She kept losing weight, and six months later she weighed 98 pounds.
Helena appeared very thin. She often was withdrawn, hard to talk to and distracted. She seemed weak — but did heavy exercise twice each day. She preferred to stand or pace rather than to sit and relax. Because of their concerns, her parents took Helena to see the family doctor for an evaluation.
Helena was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, restricting type. Her low food intake, low weight (BMI 15.8), frequent exercise and constant concern about her body weight despite being very thin are hallmarks of the diagnosis.
Mary’s and Robert’s Stories
Mary went to a theater to see a movie premiere. As she settled into her seat, a young man in a ski mask suddenly appeared in front of the screen. Holding an assault rifle, he fired into the crowd. She saw many people get shot, including the woman sitting next to her. People all around began screaming, and there was a confused stampede for the exit door. Terrified, she somehow fought her way to the exit. She escaped, uninjured, to the parking lot, just as police cars arrived.
Robert was in the same movie theater at the same time. He too feared for his life. Hiding behind a row of seats, he was able to crawl to the aisle and quickly sprint to the exit. Although covered in blood, he escaped without physical injury.
Two days later, both Mary and Robert considered themselves “nervous wrecks.” Grateful that they were alive and uninjured, they still found themselves very anxious and on edge. They jumped at the slightest noise. They kept watching TV for the latest news about the shooting. Every time there was a real video of the event, they had panic attacks, broke out into a sweat, were unable to calm down, and could not stop thinking about the trauma. They could not sleep at night because of nightmares, and during the day they had constant intrusive and unwelcome memories of gunshots, screams, and their own personal terror during the event.
Mary—Two Weeks Later
Mary was feeling and behaving like her normal self within 2 weeks. Although reminders of the shooting sometimes led to a brief panic or physical reaction, they did not dominate her waking hours. She no longer had nightmares. She knew that she would never forget what happened in that movie theater, but for the most part, her life was returning to normal.
Robert—Two Weeks Later
Robert had not recovered 2 weeks later. He felt unable to express his feelings and to have pleasant or positive feelings. He jumped at the slightest sound and was unable to focus on his work, and he had nightmares. He tried to avoid any reminders of the shootings but still remembered the sound of gunfire, the screams, and the sticky feel of the blood pouring out of his neighbor’s chest and onto him as he hid behind the seats. He felt disconnected from his surroundings and from himself. He viewed his life as having been changed by this trauma.
Mary had a normal reaction to the trauma and was not diagnosed. Robert, however, was diagnosed with acute stress disorder. Right after a traumatic event, almost everyone is upset. They often feel better within 2–3 days and normal recovery are expected. Mary’s response after the shooting was normal for the trauma: shock, fear, grief, confusion, trouble staying focused, fatigue, trouble sleeping, easily startled, racing pulse, nausea, and loss of appetite. These symptoms had gone away after about 2 weeks.
Robert developed an acute stress disorder. This involved more intense symptoms during the month after the shooting. He had at least 9 of 14 possible symptoms, including nightmares, flashbacks, trouble sleeping, and hypervigilance.