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Individuals with psychiatric diagnoses such as major depression, bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness), and schizophrenia may be covered, depending on how the condition affects their functioning.Individuals with other psychiatric conditions (such as anxiety, personality, disassociative, or post-traumatic stress disorders) may also be included in the ADA definition.

ADA coverage is limited to individuals with "physical or mental impairments" that "substantially limit one or more major life activities." The ADA also protects from discrimination individuals with a record of a disability and individuals regarded as having a disability.

Thus individuals who do not currently have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities would still fall within the scope of ADA coverage if a covered entity discriminates against them based on a record of a disability or if they are regarded as being disabled.

The symptoms of mental illness may include emotional disturbances, disordered thinking, or perceptual difficulties.

Mental illness may develop at any age, from childhood through later life.

Psychiatric disabilities are generally not apparent. Further, the ADA prohibits employers from asking applicants if they have psychiatric disabilities before making a job offer.

Examples of pre-employment questions not allowed under the ADA include the following: Have you ever been hospitalized?

Myth #3: People with psychiatric disabilities are likely to be violent.

Upon learning that an applicant has a history of psychiatric treatment, some employers may expect that the individual is likely to become violent.

By definition, mental retardation begins before the age of 18.

In contrast, the intellectual functioning of persons with psychiatric disabilities varies as it does across the general population.

Public policies began shifting in the late 1950s and early 1960s as we realized that hundreds of thousands of American citizens were being confined unnecessarily.

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