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The term “psychiatric illness” is another name given to a host of diagnoses collectively known as mental disorders. This manifests in a person’s inability to behave or function normally within the boundaries of society; it can be a physical display of inappropriate behaviors or it can be intrinsic and emotional imbalances that impact a person’s ability to function. The nature and type of mental disorders has changed dramatically as time has passed; diagnoses that were once considered mental disorders, such as homosexuality, are no longer seen as such. As time passes, such changes will continue to be made, reflecting our increased understanding of this component of mental health and human behavior.
There are several different ways to classify mental disorders. The most common diagnostic tool is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, broken down into five different axes, or classifications. The first includes clinical disorders, learning disorders, and disorders related to substance abuse. The second includes personality disorders and intellectual disabilities. The third focuses on more physical symptoms, and includes those disorders that manifest in the physical and medical realm. The fourth axis specifies psychosocial and environmental components that are related to various disorders, and the fifth focuses on the various mental disorders that can emerge in those under the age of 18. Fully understanding each and every one of these disorders is impossible, due to their increasing complexity and the rapidity with which they change.