When it comes to mental health, we’ve traveled lightyears in modern times, as social media helps destigmatize various mental health conditions. While we have made remarkable progress, there are numerous mental health conditions that often go ignored, or are brushed off by friends, family, and medical professionals alike. Let’s dive into five common mental health disorders that you may not yet know about!
1. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Period pains are often written off because “that's what happens when you have a period,” “cramps are supposed to be uncomfortable,” or “ you're just being hormonal.” Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a real disorder that affects many uterus owners worldwide. This pain actually isn't experienced during the cycle at all, but right before your cycle begins, and stops once it starts. Periods should not be incredibly painful or cause you severe mental distress. Symptoms of PMDD include: increased mood swings, increased anger or irritability, increased depressed mood, increased anxiety and/or tension (on edge). In addition to having some of the previous symptoms, you must also have one or more of the following: decreased interest in usual activities, concentration issues, increased lack of energy, drastic changes in appetite, hypersomnia or insomnia, repeated feelings of being overwhelmed, and physical symptoms of breast tenderness, muscle pain, feeling bloated or weight gain.
2. Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder (GPPPD)
While this disorder is not purely a mental health condition, it does greatly impact the sufferers’ mental health. GPPPD is an umbrella term for two pelvic pain disorders: Vaginismus (involuntary pelvic floor contractions that interfere with penetration) and Dyspareunia (painful intercourse). In addition to pain, the anxiety about pain further provokes tightening of the pelvic floor muscles. These disorders greatly affect the lives of those with it. This disorder can either be acquired or lifelong, with those experiencing pain for years without proper treatment and management of symptoms. This disorder is not often talked about because some may deem it uncomfortable to discuss pelvic pain, especially when it can occur during intimate moments. It should be discussed more to help end the stigma against it which will (hopefully) help others get the treatment they need and deserve.
3. Persistent (Chronic) or Motor Tic Disorder
A tic disorder is classified as a "sudden, rapid, recurrent, non-rhythmic motor movement or vocalization" (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p 81). There are different types of tic disorders such as: Tourette's, Persistent (Chronic) Motor or Vocal, and Provisional. Tourette's is classified as having both motor and focal ticks that differ in frequency but last longer than a year. The tics must have begun before age 18 and are not due to an underlying physiological effect of a substance or a medical condition. Motor or Vocal Tic Disorder differs from Tourette's by only having one or the other (motor or vocal) tic, not both. Provisional Tic Disorder is when someone has one or multiple vocal and or motor tics but does not quite meet full criteria for Tourette's.
4. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is when a person has fear and or anxiety about a social situation. This disorder is the third most common mental health disorder, affecting over 15 million American adults. For being so prevalent, it is often underrepresented how widely it impacts people on a day-to-day basis. Those with SAD have fear and discomfort surrounding social situations, and often feel anxiety about being judged. Additionally, SAD causes individuals to avoid social settings that would evoke this uncomfortable anxiety. This disorder causes massive distress to the point of social and occupational impairment. With the rise of the pandemic, fears of sickness in social settings have increased exponentially. When it comes time to enter back into society with less social restrictions, we might see a rise in those with social anxiety disorder. Only time and numbers will tell, but this wouldn't be surprising, as people have been compelled to minimize their social interactions. For those with SAD, this also minimizes their chance to reintegrate into social situations to help their disorder.
5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
It's not just the troops getting back from war. It's not just victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. Trauma happens in all shapes and forms, in all environments. Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. PTSD can last days, weeks, or even years, depending on how it is addressed and managed. Symptoms vary, but can include nightmares, avoiding situations in which the trauma occurred, negative recurring memories of the situation, and physical and/or emotional responses to a trigger. While it was discovered due to troops coming back from war with PTSD, it is not considered a disorder solely for this population. This disorder can affect anyone, which is why it should be a topic of discussion more frequently. Understanding the symptoms can help one get treatment before it worsens. There are many forms of therapy that can help one get through PTSD in a healthy manageable way. If you are experiencing any form of PTSD, you are not alone. Help is out there.
Mental Health Resources
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En español 1-888-628-9454
Text “HELLO” to 741741
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255
Call or text 1-800-985-5990
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
Written by: Emily SchwerdtfegerInstagram: @emily_schwerdt