Mental Disorders

A. Definition
A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or a psychiatric disorder, is a mental or behavioral pattern or anomaly that causes suffering and/or a diminished ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life. It is a medical condition that disrupts thinking, mood, the ability to relate to others, and daily functioning, and is socially or developmentally abnormal.

B. General information
The causes of mental disorders are varied and in many cases, unclear. They are not the result of personal weakness or lack of character. Mental illness sometimes is rooted in the environment, and in other instances, heredity is the underlying cause. In February 2013, a study found common genetic links between five major psychiatric disorders: autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. Mental illness can affect people of any age, race, religion, or income level. Psychotherapy and psychiatric medication are major treatment options, as are social interventions, peer support, and self-help. Recovery is possible.

There are many recognized mental illnesses. The most common types are:

Mood disorders are also called affective disorders. The most common are depression, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymic disorder.

Anxiety disorders are where you respond to certain objects and situations with irrational fear and dread. The most common are generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Impulse control and addiction disorders are where you are unable to resist urges to perform acts that could be harmful to yourself or others. Alcohol and drugs are common forms of additions, but other examples could include pyromania, kleptomania, and compulsive gambling.

Personality disorders are where your personality traits are so rigid that they interfere with normal functioning. Examples include antisocial personality disorder and paranoid personality disorder.

Eating disorders are when your behavior revolves around an extreme emotional attitude toward food and weight. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are examples.

Psychotic disorders involve distorted awareness and thinking, and often include hallucinations and/or delusions. Schizophrenia is a common example.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can develop following a traumatic or terrifying event. It involves lasting, frightening thoughts of the event.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a situation where you are plagued with constant thoughts or fears that cause you to perform certain rituals or routines. The disturbing thoughts are called obsessions and the rituals are called compulsions.

C. Social Security Medical Listing 12.00 – Mental Disorders
To be eligible for disability Social Security Administration disability benefits under 12.00, you must first prove that your mental illness is so severe that it has prevented you from being able to sustain fulltime employment for a year or longer. Once you have established that, you must meet the criteria set forth in the section of the Social Security Listing of Impairments called, “Mental Disorders.” The section is divided up into subsections that include: organic disorders, psychotic disorders, affective disorders, mental retardation, anxiety disorders, somatoform disorders, personality disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.

The Social Security Administration will look at how your illness affects your activities of daily living, your social functioning, your concentration, pace and persistence, and any episodes of decompensation that may have involved hospitalization. You must prove that your functional limitations are “marked” in at least two of these areas.

Since mental illness often manifests itself in the form of physical pain, Social Security may consider your combination of impairments when evaluating your claim. Records will be collected from your psychiatrists, counselors, hospital stays, emergency room visits, and pharmacies.

Your representative can help you determine whether your mental illness is severe enough for you to qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration.