Mental Health Awareness

Common Types of Mental Disorders

Mental illness, mental disorders or psychiatric or psychological disorders are all those terms used interchangeably. Mental illness or mental disorder is a general term for a wide range of mental health conditions that can affect a person’s thinking, perceptions, mood or behavior. They may be or short term (occasional) or long-lasting (chronic).

Common Mental Disorders Affecting Adults

1. Anxiety Disorders:

anxiety one of the common disorder

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive and persistent fear, worry, anxiety and related behavioral disturbances. Common types of anxiety disorders are:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD):

It is marked by extreme worry or being dreadful about everyday events. Although feeling some stress and being worried sometimes are common in life, GAD involves excessive worry that it interferes with a person’s well-being and functioning in daily life.

Panic disorder:

It is characterized by recurrent unexpected panic attacks that happen quickly and reaches their peak within minutes. These attacks can be triggered by a feared object or situation.

Social anxiety disorder(Social phobia):

It is a fairly common psychological disorder that involves an irrational fear of being watched or judged by people. Anxiety caused by this disorder can have a major impact on an individual’s life, making it difficult to function at school, work, and other social settings.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD):

This disorder causes constant and repetitive thoughts, or obsessions. People with OCD are plagued to perform certain rituals or routines. For example, a person with an unreasonable fear of germs will constantly wash his or her hands.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):

It is a condition that can develop following a traumatic and/or terrifying event, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, or a natural disaster. People suffering from PTSD often have long-lasting and frightening thoughts and memories of that traumatic event and tend to be emotionally numb.

Specific phobias:

People who have a specific phobia will experience extreme fear of, or feel intense anxiety about, specific types of objects or situations. Examples of common phobias include the fear of heights, fear of receiving injections, fear of blood or fear of animals (dogs, snakes, bugs).

2. Mood disorders


Depression is a feeling of low mood that is persistent and lasts for a long time. It can cause frequent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of despair and guilt, low self-worthlessness, disturbed sleep or appetite, sex drive, tiredness, and poor concentration. There are severity and symptoms related to depression that varies. Most severe, depression can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. The main types of depression are:

Major depressive disorder (MDD):

A condition characterized by loss of interest in activities and depressed mood which leads to significant impairments regarding a person’s ability to function. It causes feelings of extreme sadness or hopelessness that lasts for at least two weeks. This condition is also called clinical depression. People with this disorder may become so upset about their lives that they think about or try to commit suicide.

Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia):

This type of chronic depression is characterized by other symptoms of depression that, while often less severe, are longer lasting. Diagnosis requires experiencing a depressed mood on most days for a period of at least two years.

Bipolar disorder (manic depression):

This is a chronic mental illness with recurring episodes of mania (high mood) and depression (low mood) that can last from one day to months. Mood swings caused by bipolar disorder are much more severe than the small ups and downs most people experience on a daily basis. These can affect a person’s energy level and his ability to think reasonably.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD):

It is characterized by the onset of depression most often during the winter months when there is less natural sunlight. It usually goes away in the spring and summer. This type of depression typically leads to social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain,  it predictably returns every year in a particular season.

Postpartum Depression:

Many women experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery, which is called “postpartum depression”. The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that occur due to postpartum depression make it difficult for the new mother to perform daily care activities for themselves and for their babies. Most women experience depression within the first year after they have the baby.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder:

This condition is characterized by significant depression, irritability, and anxiety that begins a week or two before menstruation begins. Symptoms usually go away within a few days following a woman’s period.

3. Psychotic disorders:

These mental disorders lead to abnormal thinking and perceptions in a person’s mind. People with psychosis lose their sense to determine what is real and what is not. Two of its main symptoms are delusions and hallucinations. Common types of psychotic disorders include


Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric condition that impairs a person’s perception of reality and the world around them. Common symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations (hearing, seeing or feeling things that are not there) and delusions (believing false fixed beliefs, in spite of evidence that suggests the contrary), social withdrawal, lack of motivation, impaired thinking and memory. People with schizophrenia are at high risk of suicide.

Schizoaffective disorder:

People with this disorder have mix symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder. If you have a depressive episode, you often feel sad and worthless. If you have the bipolar type, you have periods of mania and you may have racing thoughts and extreme happiness.

Brief psychotic disorder (acute/transient psychotic disorder):

People with this illness have a sudden, short period of psychotic behavior, hallucinations and delusions, often in response to an extremely stressful event, such as a death in the family. Usually, the symptoms go away on their own within a month.

Delusional disorder:

In this condition, a person has a false sense of reality about one or more of his beliefs. For instance, one might think a friend is plotting to kill him/her, your partner is cheating, or a celebrity is in love with you. These false beliefs start to affect a person’s everyday life, such as, if one thinks someone is going to harm him, he might be afraid to leave the house.

4. Personality Disorders

Typically these disorders are not diagnosed until an individual is a young adult, often in the 20’s or 30’s.  Many individuals with personality disorders live and enjoy quite normal lives and seek psycho therapeutic treatment only during times of increased stress or social demands. Some people found these disorders interesting. The common personality disorders are:

Avoidant Personality Disorder:

An avoidant personality disorder is marked by severe social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, sensitivity to criticism or rejection. Such feelings of insecurity lead to significant problems with the individual’s daily life and functioning.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD):

It is associated with symptoms including emotional instability in mood, unstable and intense interpersonal relationships, unstable self-image, and impulsive behaviors. This instability often affects a person’s routine work, relationships, planning, and his/her self-identity. BPD is just as common as other mental disorders are, they affect 1 – 2 %of the general population.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (previously, multiple personality disorder):

An individual suffering from this disorder has more than one distinct identity or personality state that surfaces in the individual on a recurring basis. People with dissociative identity disorder experience changes in behavior, memory, perception, emotional response, and consciousness.

Depersonalization Disorder:

It is marked by a sense of being detached from one’s own body, or self and being disconnected from reality (derealization). These feelings of depersonalization are recurrent. Depersonalized people perceive that the external world is unreal or distorted. An individual with depersonalization disorder has a sense of unreality and an involuntary disconnect from his own memories, feelings, and consciousness.

5. Substance abuse or addiction

Mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders can co-occur, making the treatment necessary for both disorders. More than 1 in 4 adults with serious mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and personality disorders, also have a substance use disorder. Substance abuse and addiction are described as people engaged in pleasurable activities such as gambling, drinking, using drugs to the point where the substance or these activity has a negative impact on personal relationships and work. The common addiction drugs include marijuana, opiates, heroin, and cocaine. This can lead to compulsive and harmful behaviors that can be uncontrollable.

6. Sleep & Wake Disorders

Sleep disorders involve an interruption in sleep patterns that lead to distress and thus have a negative impact on the mental health of a person. The common disorders in this category are:


It is a condition in which a person may experience an irrepressible need to sleep, with repeated episodes of sleep attacks, falling asleep involuntarily at inappropriate times, often several times every day. While narcolepsy can develop at any age, it commonly begins either during the teenage or at middle age.

Insomnia disorder:

A common sleep disorder that can make it hard for a person to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. Transient or short-term insomnia typically results from stressful life events, changes in the sleeping environment, some acute medical illnesses, and stimulant medications. Normal sleeping pattern returns once the acute event is over. If a person experiences sleeping difficulty for about a month or more, this condition is called persistent or chronic insomnia.

Hypersomnolence disorder:

Hypersomnia is marked by excessive sleepiness despite an adequate main sleep period. People with this condition may fall asleep during the day at inappropriate times such as at work and school.

Restless legs syndrome:

It is a neurological condition that involves having uncomfortable sensation in the legs and an irresistible urge to move the legs in order to relieve the sensations. A person with this condition may feel tugging, creeping, burning, and crawling sensation in his/her legs, resulting in excessive movement which then interferes with sleep.

7. Childhood Mental Disorders

Childhood mental disorders also called developmental or learning disorders, most often occur and are diagnosed when the child is of school-going age. Although some of the symptoms of these disorders relate to adult disorders, typically these symptoms need to be first appeared, at some point in the person’s childhood. Typical childhood mental disorders are:

Autism Spectrum Disorder:

This disorder is characterized by persistent deficits in social interaction and communication in multiple life areas as well as restricted interests and repetitive patterns of behaviors. These symptoms cause significant impairment of life including social and occupational functioning. Even though autism can be diagnosed at any age, yet it is said to be a “developmental disorder”, because symptoms are recognized in the first two years of life.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD):

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental type of disorder that is characterized by inattentive, impulsive and hyperactive behavior. It is the most commonly diagnosed behavior disorder in young people. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that ADHD affects an estimated 9 % of children aged 3-17 and 2-4 % of adults. The onset and diagnosis of ADHD usually occur in childhood, but it is not limited to children, it often persists into adolescence and adulthood but frequently not diagnosed until late years.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder:

A childhood condition characterized by extreme anger and irritability. Children display frequent and intense outbursts of temper.

8. Feeding & Eating Disorders 

Eating disorders involve obsessive concerns related to a person’s weight and disruptive eating patterns that negatively impact physical and mental health. These include either reduction of food intake, overeating, feelings of depression or distress, the concern of weight, body shape, and poor self-image conditions.

The most common types of eating disorders are:

Anorexia Nervosa (self-starvation):

It is characterized by restricted food consumption that leads to weight loss and very low body weight. People with this disorder have a preoccupation and fear of gaining weight as well as a distorted view of their own appearance and behavior.

Bulimia Nervosa:

This disorder is characterized by binge eating followed by subsequent purging. Finding that you eat large amounts of food all in one go, when you are upset or worried (this is called bingeing); then feeling deeply guilty or ashamed, and taking steps to get rid of the food you have eaten (this is called purging). The compensatory behaviors might include fasting, self-induced vomiting, the abuse of laxatives or diuretics, and excessive exercise.

Binge Eating Disorder:

It is characterized by episodes of uncontrolled eating, where the individual consumes an unusually large amount of food over the course of a couple of hours. Binge eating episodes are sometimes triggered by certain emotions such as feeling happy or anxious, boredom or following a stressful event. It is also known as food addiction or compulsive eating.


Pica disorder involves craving for and consuming non-food substances such as dirt, chalk, paint, or soap. This disorder commonly affects children and those who have developmental disabilities.

Diagnostic criteria and classification of mental health issues:

DSM-5 common types of mental disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is one of the most widely accepted and currently used systems for classifying mental disorders. It is used by mental health professionals in the United States and many other regions of the world. DSM provides standardized diagnostic criteria for mental disorders. The latest edition of the diagnostic manual is DSM-5 and was released in May 2013.

Dr. Tayaba Sarfraz

Medical Doctor | Medical Educationist & Writer Mommy of 2 | Master chef | Health Enthusiast


  1. Please write about this topic that is progress in technology always beneficial. ? How is social media spoiling generation and teens?
    I would like to know more about how to manage time for household, study, leisure, and relaxation.

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