Other Mental Disorders
Sleep disorders, or sleep-wake disorders refer to an individual’s challenges with their sleep cycle. These may include insomnia, parasomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome, all of which are disruptive to the quality and amount of sleep a healthy person needs in order to be functional.
Sleep disorders may occur in combination with, or because of, other mental health disorders, or substance-related and addictive disorders. Substance use can cause sleep problems, but sleep disorders may also be a factor in substance use.
Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT
Insomnia is the most common sleep-wake disorder, with an estimated 30% of the American population reporting symptoms related to insomnia. Insomnia disorder occurs when sleep difficulties start creating significant distress in an individual’s daily functioning abilities. Symptoms of insomnia may be episodic, related to an event; or persistent, related to long-term effects, or recurrent, related to chronic conditions.
Obstructive sleep apnea refers to interrupted sleep patterns due to difficulties in breathing during sleep. An individual suffering from sleep apnea may snore, snort, or gasp during sleep, leading to interruptions in restful sleep. Obesity and a family history of sleep apnea are risk factors for this condition. Male members are more prone to sleep apnea than females.
In addition to insomnia and sleep apnea, several other disorders fall under this category, including sleep walking, sleep terrors, nightmare disorder, REM sleep behavior disorder and hypersomnolence. Restless legs syndrome is a particular sleep disorder that causes inability to sleep restfully due to uncomfortable sensation in the legs, such as restlessness, tingling, burning, or itching. Narcolepsy is a rare form of sleep disorder that causes individuals to lapse into sleep often, even during the day.
Chronic lack of sleep and other sleep disorders can lead to complications such as heart disease, neurological problems such as Parkinson’s disease, and other chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Over-the-counter medications are effective for short-term, episodic sleep problems, but can create other health problems if consumed for longer periods. A specialist can diagnose and create a treatment plan that can cure the illness. Lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise and mind-body practices can help create better habits for a better life.
Neurocognitive disorders are a class of mental health conditions that are related to cognitive brain areas such as focusing, learning, memory, language and speech, creating significant distress in an individual’s daily functioning.
Chronic use of substances may be linked to neural dysfunctions and cognitive disorders. Unlike intoxication effects that pass quickly after substance use, neurocognitive disorders continue to cause difficulties in cognitive functioning on an ongoing basis.
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, this disorder can be categorized as mild, or slight cognitive impairment, when it is not considered to affect an individual’s daily functioning ability.
Major neurocognitive disorder accounts for 30% of the population, however the majority of these cases are Alzheimer’s, affecting people older than 65 years of age.
There is no cure for most types of neurocognitive disorders, however if they are substance-induced neurocognitive disorders, treatment for the substance-use conditions may alleviate some of the symptoms.
An eating disorder is identified by eating behaviors and patterns that revolve around food, body weight and shape that affect an individual’s daily functioning abilities. Long-term effects of eating disorders impact the body’s ability to receive proper nutrition, leading to severe consequences such as heart diseases, digestive conditions, osteoporosis, and other serious health problems.
Addiction and eating disorders are often related: individuals with eating disorders also suffer from substance-use disorders. Individuals with eating disorders use substances such as tobacco, caffeine, amphetamines and cannabis to suppress their appetites.
Anorexia is a condition where an individual is extremely nervous about gaining weight. They try to maintain their ideal body weight by eating very minimally, and have a distorted sense of what ideal weight should be.
Individuals with Bulimia do not have a sense of control over how much food they ingest, so they binge-eat, and then resort to behaviors such as vomiting, fasting and using laxatives to purge what they ate. They go to extreme measures to avoid gaining weight.
Binge eating disorder occurs when a person is prone to eat a large amount of food quickly, because of an inability to control their food intake. Binge eaters use food as a comfort and coping mechanism for other distresses or disorders in their life.
Dual Diagnosis and treatment plans can help treat both eating disorders and substance-abuse disorders in relation with each other. A multidimensional approach including medical treatment, addiction treatment, psychotherapy and holistic practices works well with reversing these disorders.
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