Mental Illness

  • Tira B. Stebbins
Reference work entry

Mental illness can be defined as behavioral, psychological, or biological dysfunction that interferes with an individual’s daily life and ability to cope with normal stressors. A “mental disorder” is differentiated from a “physical disorder” in order to categorize types of problematic symptoms and behaviors and to guide decisions regarding the boundary between normality and pathology. It is recognized, however, that the mind and body are inherently connected to and affected by one another, as psychological symptoms affect physical symptoms and vice versa.

Nearly 25% of women will experience mental illness in their lifetime. There are biological and psychosocial factors that affect women’s mental health differently than men’s mental health. Reproductive health events such as the premenstrual period, pregnancy or postpartum, and the perimenopausal period appear to affect psychological functioning. Gender differences in thyroid function, circadian rhythm patterns (sleep cycles),...


Personality Disorder Borderline Personality Disorder General Medical Condition Gender Identity Disorder Somatization Disorder 
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Suggested Reading

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tira B. Stebbins

There are no affiliations available