iPSYCH is studying the five most serious mental disorders: Autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.
These mental disorders affect people of different genders and ages, and 35 per cent of the Danish population will either be admitted to a hospital with a mental disorder or treated as an outpatient during the course of their life. And that is not counting people who are treated by their general practitioner or a psychologist.
Several mental disorders can occur simultaneously or in succession during a lifetime. In both personal and social terms, great costs are involved and mental disorders often have a significant impact on the individual and their relatives.
Autism is an innate developmental disorder which affects a person’s perception of their surroundings and the way in which they interact with others. Autism is a different way of sensing, understanding and navigating in the world, and it has a major impact on social contexts and in communication with others. Autism is referred to as 'profound', which means that everything a person says, thinks and does is affected by autism. Three per cent of boys and one per cent of girls are diagnosed with autism.
ADHD, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, emerges early in life and is characterised by hyperactivity, attention issues, inner restlessness and impulsive actions. Five per cent of boys/men and two per cent of girls/women are diagnosed with ADHD.
Schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like diseases have an effect on thoughts, emotions and senses. Symptoms may include hallucinations and delusions, for example hearing voices or a feeling of being persecuted. Language may be affected with speech becoming incoherent and difficult to understand, and a lack of initiative and reduced ability to sense and express emotions often make it difficult for the sufferer to take care of him- or herself.
The risk of suffering schizophrenia during a person’s lifetime is 1.9 per cent for men and 1.6 per cent for women. Overall, the risk of schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like diseases is 3.8 per cent for men and 3.7 per cent for women. The typical age for the onset of schizophrenia is 17-23 years for both genders.
Bipolar disorder (previously called manic depression) is characterised by episodes in which a person’s mood is clearly altered. Either because they are unnaturally euphoric with increased energy, activity level and self-esteem (manic), or because they are depressive, typically despondent, without energy and with lowered self-esteem. 1.3 per cent of men and 1.8 per cent of women are either hospitalised or receive ambulatory treatment for bipolar disorder during their life.
Depression is one of the most frequent mental disorders. It occurs when a person is in low spirits while energy levels are also down, along with lowered self-confidence and self-esteem. People with a depression share a feeling of things being insurmountable. Depending on the symptoms, the severity of a depression is categorised as mild, moderate or severe. The risk of being treated for depression in the hospital system during a person’s lifetime is nine per cent for men and 16 per cent for women.