20 North 14th Street 
Denison, IA 51442-0187 

West Iowa Community Mental Health Center

Mental Health Topics
Common Types of
Mental Illness




















































A mental illness is a disease, much like heart disease or cancer, no ones fault-not the person's, nor the family's.

Affective Disorders  

Depression: depression is more than the "blues" people feel from time to time. It's a lasting feeling of great sadness or helplessness. A person with depression finds it hard to get pleasure from life, and may be more irritable; may sleep a lot or a little; lacks energy; fells worthless; may think a lot about death or suicide.

Possible Causes:
A biological illness, a chemical imbalance in the brain, heredity, stress and other factors.

Schizophrenic Disorders  

A group of disorders marked by unusual thoughts, actions, and emotions. It's not the same as "split" or "dual" personality. A person with schizophrenia often can't get along with others, may be unable to take care of him or her self; may not make sense when talking; may have strong fears, hallucinations (experience of visions or voice), obsessions and delusions (false beliefs); often withdraws from every day life.

Possible Causes:
Chemical, hormonal imbalance, genetic abnormality of the brain, infections and other factors.

Anxiety Disorders  

General Anxiety - tension or irritability that lasts a month or more.
Phobias - Strong fears about an object, place or situation
Panic Attacks - Sudden fear or terror, which causes heart flutters, dizziness, sweating etc.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders - Thoughts, images or actions that are constantly repeated.

Possible Causes:
Many factors, including the brain's inability to chemically control anxiety.
Childhood Disorders

The future of our country depends on the mental health and strength of our young people. However, many children have mental health problems that interfere with normal development and functioning. A 1999 study estimated that almost 21 percent of U.S. children ages 9 to 17 had a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder that caused at least some impairment. It is estimated that fewer than one in five of these youth receives needed treatment. Recent evidence compiled by the World Health Organization indicates that by the year 2020, childhood neuropsychiatric disorders will rise proportionately by over 50 percent, internationally, to become one of the five most common causes of morbidity, mortality, and disability among children. Some of the mental health problems affecting children and adolescents include:

Depressive Disorders  

Depressive disorders, which include major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder, adversely affect mood, energy, interest, sleep, appetite, and overall functioning. In contrast to the normal emotional experiences of sadness, feelings of loss, or passing mood states, symptoms of depressive disorders are extreme and persistent and can interfere significantly with a young person’s ability to function at home, at school, and with peers. Researchers estimate that the prevalence of any form of depression among children and adolescents in the U.S. is more than six percent in a six-month period, with almost five percent having major depressive disorder. 

There is evidence that depressive disorders emerging early in life often continue into adulthood, and that early-onset depressive disorders may predict more severe illnesses in adult life. Diagnosis and treatment of depressive disorders in children and adolescents are critical for enabling young people with these illnesses to live up to their full potential. 

Anxiety Disorders  

Anxiety disorders, as a group, are the most common mental illnesses that occur in children and adolescents. Researchers estimate that the prevalence of any anxiety disorder among children and adolescents in the U.S. is 13 percent in a six-month period. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder
: characterized by persistent, exaggerated worry and tension over everyday events. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): characterized by intrusive, unwanted, repetitive thoughts and behaviors performed out of a feeling of urgent need.

Panic Disorder: characterized by feelings of extreme fear and dread that strike unexpectedly and repeatedly for no apparent reason, often accompanied by intense physical symptoms, such as chest pain, pounding heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): a condition that can occur after exposure to a terrifying event, most often characterized by the repeated re-experience of the ordeal in the form of frightening, intrusive memories; brings on hypervigilance and deadening of normal emotions. 

Phobias: social phobia—extreme fear of embarrassment or being scrutinized by others; specific phobia—excessive fear of an object or situation, such as dogs, heights, loud sounds, flying, costumed characters, enclosed spaces, etc.

Other disorders: separation anxiety—excessive anxiety concerning separation from the home or from those to whom the person is most attached; and selective mutism—persistent failure to speak in specific social situations. 

Various forms of psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and family therapy, as well as certain medications, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are used to treat anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Research on the safety and efficacy of these treatments is ongoing. 


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated four percent of children and adolescents in the U.S. in a six-month period. Its core symptoms include developmentally inappropriate levels of attention, concentration, activity, distractibility, and impulsivity. Children with ADHD usually have impaired functioning in peer relationships and multiple settings including home and school. Untreated ADHD also has been found to have long-term adverse effects on academic performance, vocational success, and social-emotional development. 

A major NIMH-funded study of children with ADHD concluded that the two most effective treatment methods for elementary school-aged children with ADHD are a closely monitored medication treatment and a treatment that combines medication with intensive behavioral interventions. Other research has shown that treating ADHD in children may reduce the likelihood of future drug and alcohol abuse.

For more information please contact:

West Iowa Community Mental Health Center
Denison Office (712) 263-3172


National Institute for Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Rm. 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
(312) 443-4513 


Are you struggling with depression?

Treatment is available.

The Wellmark Foundation is funding a local project focused on increasing the community's awareness of depression and its symptoms. For those who qualify, this project will also pay for the treatment of depression, including therapy, psychiatric services, and medication.

How do you qualify?

To qualify for financial assistance for the treatment of depression, you
must have no other means to pay for services. Some examples include:
  • No health insurance
  • Health insurance does not cover depression
  • No Title 19 or other assistance
  • Insurance deductible is too high
  • Sliding Fee is too high

To receive more information, contact 
West Iowa Community Mental Health Center 
at 263-3172. 
Services are confidential.


  • Loss of interest and pleasure in things you used to enjoy

  • Feeling sad, blue, or down in the dumps

  • Restlessness, irritability

  • Feeling worthless or guilty

  • Changes in eating habits (such as loss or gain of appetite or weight)

  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts

  • Diminished sexual interest

  • Problems concentrating, thinking, remembering, or making decisions

  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

  • Feeling hopeless or helpless

  • Loss of energy or feeling tired all of the time


  • Headaches

  • Other aches and pains

  • Digestive problems

  • Being anxious or worried


  • Chemical imbalance

  • Other illnesses happening at the same time

  • Genetic factors

  • Postpartum changes

  • Alcohol and other substance abuse

  • Reaction to life conditions


  1. Identify issues that are causing the depression

  2. Find a healthy way to express feelings

  3. Develop a support system

  4. Alter your thought patterns

  5. Change your behavior

  6. Medication


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West Iowa Community Mental Health Center · 20 North 14th Street · P.O. Box 187 · Denison, IA 51442-0187 · Phone: 712-263-3172 


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