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The focus of NAMIH is on serious mental illness (SMI), as defined by psychiatry. SMI includes the brain disorders of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar and unipolar depressive disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic and related disorders.

Cause: Causes are not fully understood. Scientific evidence indicates some SMIs are genetically influenced. Injury or infection before or during birth or in early childhood also may be contributing factors.

Stress: While there is no evidence of stress alone as a causal factor, in persons with a predisposition to develop a SMI, stress may trigger illness onset or make it worse.

Prevention/Cures: SMI is not now seen as preventable or curable. Neuroscience is still searching for the answers.

Prevalence: SMI will strike nearly 17% of Americans in any year, affecting people of all ages, ethnicity, faiths, education and socioeconomic levels.

Impact: No-fault SMI disrupts one's thinking, feeling, and ability to relate consistently and appropriately to others. Inability to live normally can devastate the person and his or her family.

The Good News! The illnesses are very treatable. Improved medications, rehabilitation, and strong family/social support help many with SMI to have meaningful lives.

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