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Saliva Sleuths: Spotting Mental Illness In Your Spit

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FLORIDA - BACKGROUND: A mental illness or mental disorder is a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. (SOURCE: www.nami.org)

WHAT CAUSES MENTAL ILLNESS?: There are many factors, a person’s genes or family history may play a role. Life experiences, such as stress or a history of abuse, may also matter. Biological factors can also be part of the cause. A traumatic brain injury can lead to a mental disorder. A mother's exposure to viruses or toxic chemicals while pregnant may play a part. Other factors may increase a person's risk, such as use of illegal drugs or having a serious medical condition like cancer. (SOURCE: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/mentaldisorders.)

THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Mental illnesses are very common. In fact, they are more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 25% of American adults (those ages 18 and older) and about 13% of American children (those ages 8 to 15) are diagnosed with a mental disorder during a given year. (SOURCE: www.medicinenet.com)

TREATMENT: A mental illness, like many chronic illnesses, requires ongoing treatment. Many mental conditions can be effectively treated with one or a combination of the following therapies:

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Day treatment or partial hospital treatment
  • Specific therapies, such as cognitive-behavior therapy and behavior modification

(SOURCE: www.medicinenet.com)