Long-Term Care

Trainer's tip: Learn to differentiate types of mental illness

LTC Nursing Assistant Trainer, September 22, 2011

Many different things can cause mental health problems. Sometimes mental disorders are genetic, meaning they run in families. Mental illnesses can be caused by reactions to stressful events, by imbalances in the body’s chemistry, or by a combination of several factors. It is important to remember that mentally ill people usually cannot control the way they think, feel, or behave. Mental illness is not the person’s fault; they cannot help themselves. The seven main types of mental disorders are cognitive, dissociative, anxiety, eating, mood, personality, and psychotic disorders:

  • Cognitive impairment is a loss of mental abilities and awareness that occurs in varying degrees with a variety of underlying causes. Examples include dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Dissociative disorders come in many forms, all thought to stem from traumatic events. Examples include dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) and dissociative amnesia.
  • Anxiety disorders cause physical symptoms such as rapid shallow breathing, increased heart rate, sweating, and trembling; it can also cause emotional symptoms. Examples include post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.
  • Eating disorders affect physical health. Examples include anorexia and bulimia.
  • Mood disorders usually involve chemical imbalances in the brain. Examples include depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Personality disorders are chronic conditions with biological and psychological causes. Examples include obsessive-compulsive personality and passive-aggressive personality.
  • Psychotic disorders cause people to lose touch with reality, making it difficult to meet the ordinary demands of life. Examples include schizophrenia.

This is an excerpt from the HCPro book, The CNA Training Solution, Second Edition.

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