A serious brain disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Symptoms can include:

  •  hallucinations (hearing or seeing something that isn’t there)
  • delusions or fixed false ideas
  • disorganized thinking
  • deterioration of work performance
  • change of personality
  • social withdrawal
  • apathy
  • unresponsiveness
  • and lack of drive.

Symptoms can develop slowly over several months or they can appear suddenly.

There may be periods of remission and relapse.

Early treatment of an initial episode is very important.

Onset (the beginning of the illness) usually happens in early adulthood (late teens or early 20s).

Support Groups

BC Schizophreia Society

Schizophrenia Society of Canada

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by very disturbing physical symptoms. These sensations often mimic symptoms of a heart attack or other life-threatening medical conditions. As a result, the diagnosis of panic disorder is frequently not made until extensive and costly medical procedures fail to provide a correct diagnosis or relief.

People with panic disorder experience frequent, unprovoked panic responses that involve some or all of the following symptoms:

  • accelerated heartbeat
  • sweating
  • trembling/shaking
  • sensations of smothering or shortness of breath
  • feeling that you are choking
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • nausea
  • dizziness, unsteadiness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • feelings of unreality or detachment from oneself
  • fear of losing control or going “crazy”
  • fear of dying
  • chills or hot flashes

Did you know . . .

  • In a given year, 1 to 2% of the Canadian population experiences panic disorder.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop panic disorder.
  • Panic disorder often occurs in young adulthood, but is evident in all age ranges, from children to the elderly.
  • Roughly half of all people who have panic disorder develop the condition before age 24.


Depression, sometimes combined with anxiety disorder, is the most prevalent mental illness and, in its most severe forms, can be life threatening. There have been estimates that depression costs the Canadian economy millions of dollars a year in lost productivity, absenteeism from work, and other indirect costs including hospitalization, medication that is subsidized, etc.

Some pertinent facts:  

  • clinical depression is more than just “the blues”.
  • Women are diagnosed twice as often with depression than are men.

Symptoms of depression include:  

  • a persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood. Irritability.
  • change to sleep pattern or appetite. Often, early morning waking with the inability to return to sleep is a symptom.
  • loss of interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • fatigue, loss of energy
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • thoughts of death or suicide


Mood Disorders Assocation
offers two support groups in Victoria, plus many others in British Columbia.

Personality Disorders

This set of conditions is descriptive of behaviours or pervasive traits, rather than what is called Axis I disorders. They are usually terms for clusters of behaviours and these are often characteristic of disruptive lifestyles.

Some of the clusters are:  

  • eccentric (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal)
  • impulsive (histrionic, narcissistic, antisocial, borderline)
  • dependent (compulsive, avoidant, dependent, passive-aggressive).

Often the person feels mistreated or misjudged – exhibiting a hypersensitivity to being unfairly treated. They may also exhibit restricted feelings: lack of sense of humour, absence of tender feelings, pride in being cold and unemotional. They can be often connected to abuse in childhood. Often a sense of abandonment. Considerable manipulation issues.

Treatment is highly specific, and cognitive behavioural therapy or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is often recommended.

From a pamphlet on Borderline Personality Disorder, “2% of the population has it, 75% of those diagnosed with it are women, 20% of psychiatric inpatients have that diagnosis, 54% of those with it also have a substance use disorder, 75% have been physically or sexually abused, most are bright, funny, witty, the ‘life of the party’.” . . . adults who are uncertain of the truth of their own feelings and who are confronted by 3 “dialectics” they have failed to master:

  • vulnerability vs. invalidation
  • active passivity vs. apparent competence
  • unremitting crises vs. inhibited grief

Borderline Personality Disorder

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious psychiatric illness. People with BPD have difficulty regulating their emotions and controlling their impulses. They often act out their emotions or impulses, either through intense displays of anger, or through self-injurious or suicidal behavior. Although self-injury often occurs without suicidal intent, a significant number of people with BPD die by suicide. Despite the seriousness of the disorder, recent research indicates that treatment can lead to considerable improvement over time, and there is hope for recovery.

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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is an illness involving one or more episodes of serious mania and depression. The illness causes a person’s mood to swing from excessively “high” and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, with periods of a normal mood in between. More than 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder.

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