What is addiction?
An addiction is a health disorder where you are unable to stop doing something that is causing harm to you or others.
The most common addictions are to alcohol, tobacco, drugs and gambling.
Addiction is often chronic, which means it goes on for a long time. It is also relapsing, meaning that you might go back to the addiction a few times on your path to recovery.
An addiction can take over your life, affecting your health, work, study, relationships and finances.
But addiction can be managed, and you should expect to recover, even though it may take some time.
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition.
In people with ADHD, there are differences in the parts of the brain that control our ability to plan, organise and focus.
Symptoms start in childhood. About half of children with ADHD continue to have problems into adulthood. Sometimes ADHD is missed in childhood and only gets noticed later in life.
The main features of ADHD are:
- difficulty paying attention (for example to workplace tasks, conversations, or personal belongings)
- hyperactivity (for example fidgeting or being unable to sit still, talking a lot)
- impulsivity (for example interrupting conversations, being unable to wait in line)
A recent study found that up to 3% of Australian adults have ADHD.
Having ADHD can make family life, study, work and friendships difficult.
There are effective treatments available for ADHD. You should seek help if you are worried about yourself or someone close to you.
What is autism?
Autism is a lifelong developmental condition. It is also called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It takes in a wide range of different levels of ability and includes what was previously called Asperger’s syndrome.
A person with autism has problems with:
- communication (talking, understanding instructions and body language, making eye contact)
- repetitive behaviour (hand flapping, repeating words, playing with the same toys)
- sensory issues (avoiding certain textures, sounds or lights, or seeking them out)
About 1 in 100 Australians are living with autism. It’s about four times more common in boys than in girls.
There is a huge variation in the way that autism affects a person’s life, from social and relationship issues to daily activities, school and work
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects a person’s mood and energy levels.
Everyone has highs and lows, but people with bipolar have extreme ups and downs in mood. These mood changes can be distressing for them and other people. They can affect how they live their life, and even put them in risky situations. Between these mood swings, however, they feel and act normally.
People with bipolar disorder have times when their highs are extreme and they have too much energy. These highs are called ‘mania’ when severe, or ‘hypomania’ when less severe.
Most people with bipolar disorder also have times when they feel extremely down. They can feel hopeless, helpless or empty. This is called bipolar depression.
In the past, bipolar disorder was called ‘manic depression’.
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, but with the right treatment the symptoms can be well controlled.
What is borderline personality disorder?
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that:
- makes it hard for a person to feel comfortable in themselves
- causes problems controlling emotions and impulses
- causes problems relating to other people.
People with BPD have high levels of distress and anger. They can easily take offence at things other people do or say.
People with BPD might struggle with painful thoughts and beliefs about themselves and other people. This can cause distress in their work life, family life and social life. Some people with BPD harm themselves.
For most people with BPD, symptoms begin during their teenage years or as a young adult, then improve during adult life.
BPD is a condition of the brain and mind. If someone has BPD, it is not their fault and they did not cause it.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a medical condition where damage to brain cells causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour.
It’s uncommon in people aged under 60. By age 85 around 1 in 5 people will have dementia.
While we all get a bit more forgetful as we get older, dementia is different. It is not a ‘normal’ part of ageing.
Most dementias are progressive, which means they get worse over time.
There are, however, medications and a range of supports – financial, emotional and physical – to help a person with dementia and their family and friends.
What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how the brain works. People with schizophrenia experience psychosis, which means they can have serious problems with thinking clearly, emotions, and knowing what is real and what is not.
This can include hearing or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations) and having very strange beliefs that are abnormal or not true (delusions).
Having psychosis often makes a person want to keep away from other people. They may have problems understanding other people’s emotions and may feel depressed or irritable.
Other illnesses similar to schizophrenia include schizoaffective disorder and schizophreniform disorder.
While there is currently no cure for schizophrenia, it can be treated effectively with medication and psychological treatment.
The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. HelloDoc is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information.