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Mental disorder or mental illness are terms used to refer a psychological or physiological pattern that occurs in an individual and is usually associated with distress or disability that is not expected as part of normal development or culture. The recognition and understanding of mental disorders has changed over time. Definitions, assessments, and classifications of mental disorders can vary, but guideline criterion listed in the ICD, DSM and other manuals are widely accepted by mental health professionals. Categories of diagnoses in these schemes may include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, developmental disorders, personality disorders, and many other categories. In many cases there is no single accepted or consistent cause of mental disorders, although they are widely understood in terms of a diathesis-stress model and biopsychosocial model. Mental disorders have been found to be common, with over a third of people in most countries reporting sufficient criteria at some point in their life. Mental health services may be based in hospitals or in the community. Mental health professionals diagnose individuals using different methodologies, often relying on case history and interview. Psychotherapy and psychiatric medication are two major treatment options, as well as supportive interventions. Treatment may be involuntary where legislation allows. A number of movements campaign for changes to mental health services and attitudes, including the Consumer/Survivor Movement. There are widespread problems with stigma and discrimination.

 

The definition and classification of mental disorder is a key issue for the mental health professions and for users and providers of mental health services. Most international clinical documents use the term "mental disorder" rather than "mental illness". There is no single definition and the inclusion criteria are said to vary depending on the social, legal and political context. In general, however, a mental disorder has been characterized as a clinically significant behavioral or psychological pattern that occurs in an individual and is usually associated with distress, disability or increased risk of suffering. There is often a criterion that a condition should not be expected to occur as part of a person's usual culture or religion. The term "serious mental illness" (SMI) is sometimes used to refer to more severe and long-lasting disorder. A broad definition can cover mental disorder, mental retardation, personality disorder and substance dependence. The phrase "mental health problems" may be used to refer only to milder or more transient issues.

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