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What Are the Types of Mental Health Disorders?

Learn more about the different types of mental health disorders present in the population today and how to pursue treatment successfully.

Why is Mental Wellness Important?

Mental health disorders affect how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. They can be chronic (long-lasting), short-lived, or cyclical. Experiencing problems with mental health is more common than most people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control, mental illnesses are among the most diagnosed health problems in the U.S.1

What is Mental Health?

How Common Are Mental Health Disorders?

Over half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder during their lifetime. Coping with mental health issues is challenging enough for adults. Sadly, it’s estimated that one in five children will experience serious mental health issues before reaching adulthood.
It’s important to remember that mental health isn’t static; it can change over time. Mental health can be impacted during extreme stress and improve when those stressors are removed or when the person learns new coping skills.
Even if they don’t seem that critical, mental health problems should not be ignored. One reason for this is that mental health affects physical health and vice versa. For example, people with untreated depression are at greater risk of developing chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease than those without depression.

Mental Health Disorder Statistics

Unfortunately, many people still fear the stigma of being diagnosed with mental health disorders. Some sources report that nearly 60% of people struggling with a mental health disorder choose not to seek treatment.2
Mental Health Disorders

Mental Health Disorders

Most Common Mental Health Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is accepted in the U.S. as the authority on mental health disorders. The encyclopedia lists five broad categories of psychological disorders and nearly 300 individual illnesses. Among those 300, some types of mental health disorders are scarce, affecting fewer than 100 people yearly worldwide. Others, like those listed below, are all too common. Anxiety disorders alone affect approximately 40 million adults in the U.S. yearly.3

Anxiety Disorders

Mental Health Disorders

Mental Health Disorders

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders. They are characterized by feelings of worry, tension, stress, and recurrent intrusive thoughts. While everyone feels anxious occasionally, those with an anxiety disorder find it difficult or even impossible to escape their cycles of anxious thinking and the physical discomfort that accompanies their thoughts.

Major Types of Anxiety Disorders

The major types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Chronic worry with no specific triggers
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Repetitive behaviors and recurring, unwanted thoughts
  • Panic Disorder: Repeated episodes of panic attacks or intense fear
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): Overwhelming or debilitating anxiety focused on social interactions/situations

Anxiety and depression are often co-occurring. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America estimates that nearly half of all people diagnosed with an anxiety disorder also suffer from depression.4

Mood Disorders

The term “mood disorders” refers to various mental health issues that affect a person’s ability to maintain a stable mood. The most common mood disorders are:

Major Depressive Disorder

Feeling sad, loss of interest in everyday activities, and other symptoms that last two weeks or longer

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Chronic depression symptoms lasting two years or more

Bipolar Disorder

Alternating periods of depression and elevated moods or mania

Psychotic Disorders

Psychotic disorders are often viewed as the most severe mental health disorders because symptoms can cause sufferers to lose touch with reality. The most common psychotic disorders are:


Characterized by unusual behavior, delusions, hallucinations, and withdrawal

Schizoaffective Disorder 

A combination of psychotic and mood symptoms, such as delusions and depression

Schizophreniform Disorder

An episode of schizophrenia that lasts between one and six months

Delusional Disorder

Delusions without the unusual behavior or other symptoms common to schizophrenia

Brief Psychotic Disorder

A short episode of psychosis that lasts less than one month

Eating Disorders

Like all mental health conditions, eating disorders seriously impact physical health. The extreme eating patterns followed by some individuals with eating disorders can lead to organ failure and death. The most common types of mental disorders that focus on food and eating include the following:

Anorexia Nervosa

An extreme fear of gaining weight that can lead to starvation

Bulimia Nervosa

A cycle of purging and binge-eating behaviors

Binge Eating Disorder

Eating large amounts of food within short periods, feeling a lack of control overeating behaviors


A compulsion to eat non-food items, such as coins, paper, metal, etc

Other less common eating disorders are characterized by picky eating, purposefully regurgitating, or any eating- or food-related behavior that impairs a person’s ability to function at work or home. 

Impulse Control Disorders

Mental Health Disorders

Mental Health Disorders

Impulse control disorders are closely related to co-occurring disorders and may lead to addiction. However, impulse disorders include a host of other behaviors, such as:

  • Violent impulses

  • Kleptomania: Stealing things that are not needed

  • Pyromania: The urge to set fires

Impulse disorders are rare types of mental illnesses affecting roughly 2% of the population. However, their impact on a person’s life can be devastating, leading to legal trouble, addiction, incarceration, lack of employment, and lack of healthy relationships. 6

A Deeper Look at Impulse Control Disorders

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are a very diverse category of mental illness conditions. These psychological disorders are characterized by maladaptive patterns of thinking and behaving that make it challenging to deal with everyday work/life stress or maintain healthy relationships.

Personality disorders are divided into three main clusters. Cluster A disorders encompass odd or eccentric behavior. Cluster B includes emotional, erratic, and dramatic behavior. Cluster C disorders are identified by fearful or anxious behavior. The individual personality disorders within each cluster are:

Cluster A

Schizoid personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder

Cluster B

Antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder

Cluster C

Avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Getting a proper diagnosis and treatment for a personality disorder can be difficult because people experiencing these disorders may not realize they are exhibiting signs of a mental illness.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most well-known type of trauma disorder. It is a psychiatric condition brought on by experiencing a traumatic event, such as rape and other forms of sexual violence, a natural disaster, war, childhood abuse, or a severe accident.

Though not included in the DSM-5, some therapists differentiate PTSD into three types:

Complex PTSD

Develops after prolonged, repeated trauma

Delayed Expression PTSD

Develops at least six months after the triggering traumatic event

Dissociative PTSD

Develops to separate oneself from the traumatic experience, as if it happened to someone else

Another type of PTSD is known as intergenerational PTSD. Many experts believe this type of PTSD may occur due to older family members repeating traumatic stories to younger members. Examples are Holocaust survivors talking about their experiences in concentration camps and Japanese Americans retelling the events of being taken to internment camps. The theory is that when traumatizing stories are frequently repeated, it can have a strong emotional impact on those who hear the information, even if they did not directly experience it.

Other Types of Mental Health Disorders

Mental Health Disorders

Mental Health Disorders

All types of mental illnesses can disrupt a person’s day-to-day life. Some symptoms of mental illness may remain invisible to others, and some signs are more prominent. Living with mental disorder symptoms can negatively impact how a person sees themselves or the way others see them. 

Some of the less commonly understood mental illnesses include:

Stress Response Syndromes

Short-term conditions that affect a person’s ability to cope with stress 

Dissociative Disorders

Characterized by a lack of continuity between thoughts and actions

Factitious Disorders

Pretending to be sick or making yourself sick

Sexual and Gender Disorders

Inability to enjoy sexual intimacy or feeling uncomfortable/out of sync with your biological body

Somatic Symptom Disorders

Extreme focus on physical pain or symptoms

Tic Disorders

Exhibiting verbal or physical tics

Causes of Mental Health Disorders

Several different factors can cause mental illness. No single answer is true for every person with mental health problems because each person’s experience is unique. Generally, mental illness is thought to be influenced by inherited traits (genetics), exposure to toxins while in the womb, and brain chemistry.

People who carry a higher risk of developing mental health issues may be triggered by high-stress situations, such as losing a loved one, job loss, or trauma. In many cases, the causes of mental health disorders remain unknown.

Mental Health Disorders Risk Factors

Anyone can develop a mental health problem, although some people carry a higher risk than others. Factors that increase the risk of mental illness include:

  • High-stress life situations, such as divorce or the death of a loved one
  • Chronic medical conditions, such as chronic pain or diabetes
  • Previous mental health problems
  • A history of mental illness in the immediate family
  • Brain damage caused by injury
  • Experiencing trauma, such as violence or military combat
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Isolation and having few friends or healthy relationships

Negative Side Effects of Mental Illness

Mental illness can cause severe social, behavioral, emotional, and physical health problems. It can lead to isolation, which can worsen some conditions and make it difficult to find or keep a job. Legal and financial issues, the threat of homelessness, loss of meaningful relationships, and other complications may result from having a mental health disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders

The warning signs of mental illness vary and depend on the individual and the specific disease they are dealing with. However, some common symptoms of mental health disorders will help you recognize a problem in your life or that of a loved one. These mental disorder symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Confused thinking, inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal from friends and social circles
  • Changes in sexual behavior, sex drive
  • Trouble relating to other people
  • Feeling tired, low energy
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Feeling sad, melancholy mood
  • Risky behavior

All symptoms should be taken seriously. However, some are more immediately critical than others. Emergency intervention is needed if someone you know is showing excessive anger or violence, experiencing paranoia, having delusions, or talking about suicide.

When to See a Doctor

Like all health conditions, early treatment offers the most excellent chance of recovery. Mental health problems won’t go away by ignoring them. In fact, in most cases, symptoms will increase and worsen if they go untreated. Speak with your medical doctor or mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of poor mental health.

If you have thoughts of suicide, call 911 or call a mental health professional immediately. Suicidal ideation doesn’t go away on its own. Getting the mental health disorders treatment you need can save your life.  

How Are Mental Health Disorders Diagnosed?

Only medical professionals can diagnose mental health disorders using the DSM-5 guidelines. A series of tests including a physical examination, diagnostic lab tests, a complete family medical history, and a psychological evaluation is needed to make a correct diagnosis.

Once a diagnosis is reached, your health care team will develop a mental health disorders treatment plan that addresses all your psychological and physical needs.

Prevention and Mental Health Disorders

Most experts agree that the focus of mental health care should not be on prevention. Because common and severe mental health conditions can be caused by genetics or unavoidable life circumstances, mental illness is not something a person can prevent. However, there are several things we can do to protect our mental health and possibly avoid the kind of stress overload that may trigger the onset of certain types of severe mental health disorders.

Maintaining Your Mental Wellness

Mental Health Disorders

Mental Health Disorders

“Psychology Today” recommends the following steps to safeguard your mental wellness: 7
  • Recognize you are not a machine that can be “on” 24/7
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Avoid self-medication
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Take walks or vary the types of movements you can make
  • Listen to music
  • Explore your creativity
  • Do not compare yourself to others
  • Be compassionate to yourself
  • Limit screen time
  • Spend time in nature
  • Reveal your struggles to others

Understanding that all people need help occasionally is an integral part of personal growth and healing. Whatever your mental health challenge, reaching out to your community will help you cope, and sharing your story will help others.

More Tips for Maintaining Mental Wellness

Mental Health Disorders Treatment Options

Mental Health Disorders

Mental Health Disorders

Developing a successful treatment plan takes time and the expertise of both mental and physical health professionals. It also takes patience to find the proper medication regimen and therapy that works best for everyone. That’s where we come in. 

What are Some Relevant Treatment Opportunities?

Treatment typically includes a combination of:

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Brain stimulation therapies
  • Other therapies such as self-management or life-skills training

Anew Treatment Center and Your Healing Journey

Anew Treatment Center is here to help you manage and heal from common mental health disorders. We provide comprehensive mental health services that are based on a whole-person approach to mental health. You are more than your mental health disorder. We are here to help you regain autonomy over your life and overall wellness. 

Start healing with the proper treatment and support from the compassionate team at Anew Treatment Center. Your mental, physical, and spiritual well being remains our top priority.

Learn More About Our Treatment Programs

Our team is ready to talk and determine how we can help. Rest assured your call is confidential. We're here for you.