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What Are Seven Common Types of Mental Disorders?

Reviewed on 11/18/2020

What Are Mental Disorders?

Depression and anxiety top the list of common mental disorders in the U.S. Obsessive-compulsive, post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorders also make the list.
Depression and anxiety top the list of common mental disorders in the U.S. Obsessive-compulsive, post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorders also make the list.

Mental disorders, or mental illnesses, are those that affect a person’s mood, feelings, thinking, and behavior. 

Seven common types of mental disorders include: 

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorders social anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and phobias
  3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD
  4. Bipolar disorder
  5. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  6. Schizophrenia
  7. Personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder 

What Are Symptoms of Mental Disorders?

Symptoms of mental disorders vary depending on the disorder. 

Symptoms of depression may include: 

  • Not caring about things one used to 
  • Feeling sad, down, or hopeless most of the day, nearly every day
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Fatigue/lack of energy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Confusion
  • Moving and speaking more slowly than usual
  • Restlessness or have trouble staying still
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
    • If you or someone you know are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

Symptoms of anxiety disorders may include: 

  • Worry
  • Fear
  • Feeling “on edge”
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle tension
  • Stomach aches
  • Chest tightness or pain (see a doctor if this occurs – chest pain may be a sign of a medical emergency)
  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder may include:

  • Obsessions
    • Repetitive and persistent thoughts (e.g., of contamination), images (e.g., of violent or horrific scenes), or urges (e.g., to stab someone)
      • These are not voluntary or pleasurable 
    • Patients with OCD attempt to ignore, avoid, or suppress obsessions or to neutralize them with another thought or action (e.g., performing a compulsion)
  • Compulsions
    • Repetitive behaviors (e.g., washing, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that a person feels compelled to perform in relation to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly or to achieve a sense of “completeness”
    • Compulsions are not connected in a realistic way to the feared event or are clearly excessive 

Symptoms of bipolar disorder may include:

  • Depression 
    • See depression symptoms above
  • Mania
    • Feeling abnormally and persistently happy, angry, hyperactive, impulsive, and irrational at different times
    • Feelings of special powers and superiority
    • Decreased need for sleep
    • Restlessness
    • Excessive talking 
    • Increased activity
    • Racing thoughts
    • Short attention span
    • Inappropriate laughing or joking
    • Getting into arguments
    • Inappropriate spending sprees or sexual activity

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder may include:

  • Reliving the trauma: memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
  • Feeling “numb” 
  • Avoiding certain people or places 
  • Intense feelings, such as anger, fear, or worry
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)

Symptoms of schizophrenia may include:

  • Hallucinations 
  • Delusions 
  • Disorganized thoughts or speech 
  • Lack of emotion and or changes in facial expression 
  • Minimal movement or talking 
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of interest in spending time with people or having fun
  • Problems learning and remembering
  • Difficulty understanding speech or other forms of communication
  • Difficulty making sense of new information
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression

Symptoms of personality disorders may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Angry outbursts
  • Social anxiety which causes difficulty making friends
  • Need to be the center of attention
  • Feeling of being cheated or taken advantage of
  • Lack of impulse control/difficulty delaying gratification
  • Not feeling there is anything wrong with one’s behavior (ego-syntonic symptoms)
  • Externalizing and blaming the world for one’s behaviors and feelings

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What Causes Mental Disorders?

Causes or risk factors for development of mental disorders are often unknown but may include:

  • Genetics or a family history of the disorder
  • Environment 
  • Chemical imbalance in the brain
  • Substance abuse
  • Trauma during childhood
  • Stressful circumstances during childhood
  • Poverty and low levels of social support

How Are Mental Disorders Diagnosed?

Mental disorders are usually diagnosed by a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Mental disorders generally have to meet certain criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). 

Exams and tests that may be used to rule out other underlying medical causes for the thoughts and behaviors such may include: 

  • Imaging tests
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG
  • Lab tests such as blood and urine tests to detect infections, substance use, or other underlying medical conditions

What Is the Treatment for Mental Disorders?

Treatment for mental disorders usually involves therapy, medications, or a combination of the two. 

Medications to treat mental disorders include: 

Types of therapy used to treat mental disorders includes: 

  • Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 
  • Marital and family therapy

Other treatments used to treat mental disorders includes: 

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for depression 
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse treatment

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Reviewed on 11/18/2020
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