Severe Mental Illness

Severe mental illness is often defined by its length of duration and the disability it produces. These illnesses include disorders that produce psychotic symptoms, such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, and severe forms of other disorders, such as major depression and bipolar disorder.

Illnesses that produce distortions of perception, delusions, hallucinations, and unusual behaviors are sometimes called thought disorders. Because the symptoms reflect a loss of contact with perceived reality, the disorders are also sometimes known as psychotic disorders.

Severe mental illnesses are treatable, and with proper treatment and management of the illness, people with these disorders can experience recovery.


Schizophrenia is the most common thought disorder. It is not a "split personality" or a "multiple personality."

Symptoms of schizophrenia fall into four categories:

Psychotic symptoms Negative symptoms
Hallucinations Apathy
False perceptions Loss of interest
False beliefs Poor follow-through
Bizarre behavior Loss of pleasure
Disordered speech Illogical, limited amount of speech
Delusions Lack of facial and vocal expressions

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings ranging from mania or extreme happiness, grandiosity, euphoria or irritability, or decreased need for sleep. Typically a person with bipolar disorder cycles from one extreme to the other while experiencing periods with few or no symptoms in between.

Bipolar disorder is not simply having mood swings. Typically, bipolar disorder involves dramatic shifts not only in mood but in overall outlook, behavior, and energy level.

The cycles of bipolar disorder include depression, mania and what is referred to as a "mixed state."

The manic symptoms of bipolar disorder include:
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distractibility
  • Increase in goal-directed activities
  • More talkative then usual or more pressured speech
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that often are self-defeating. (Hazelden Foundation, 2016)

If you or someone you know is having symptoms of Depression, immediately seek health care. You can find MHA Champions Care Providers below:


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