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Mental illnesses are medical conditions also known as brain disorders. They are a flaw in biochemistry, not character. Mental illnesses are biologically-based and profoundly disrupt a person’s ability to think, feel, and relate to others and their environment.

Mental illnesses are complex medical illnesses. Please note that the following definitions include a brief view of the symptoms. To research more about these illnesses, including symptoms, diagnosis and types of treatment, go to

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause people to feel excessively frightened, distressed, or uneasy during situations in which most other people would not experience these same feelings. The most common anxiety disorders are panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobias.

Bipolar disorder is a persistent illness with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from one day to months. A “high” manic state can be identified by feelings of extreme irritability and/or euphoria, surges of energy, reduced need for sleep, talkativeness, pleasure seeking and increased risk-taking behavior. The “low” state of depression produces feelings of extreme sadness, hopelessness and lack of energy.

Clinical or major depression is a persistent condition that goes well beyond temporarily feeling sad. It affects people’s ability to function at work or socially. Depression is a life-long condition in which periods of wellness alternate with recurrences of illness and may require long-term treatment to keep symptoms from returning. It causes significant changes in how a person functions in many of the following areas—changes in sleep and appetite, lack of concentration, loss of energy, lack of interest and hopelessness.

Schizoaffective disorder have features that resemble schizophrenia and mood disorders. A person who has schizoaffective disorder will experience delusions, hallucinations, other symptoms that are characteristic of schizophrenia and significant disturbances in their
mood (e.g., affective symptoms).

Schizophrenia is a long-term medical illness. Individuals with schizophrenia have two or more of the following symptoms—hearing voices others don’t hear, believing things that are proven to be false (delusions), disorganized speech, emotional flatness, lack of pleasure in life and isolating oneself.

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