Mental Illness: Top 7 types of Mental Health Disorders

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Almost one in five Americans live with a mental illness, reflecting the pervasive impact of mental health challenges across our society. Mental health issues are incredibly varied and complex, with more than 200 classified forms of mental illness recognized by mental health professionals. These illnesses can manifest in myriad ways, affecting thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in different combinations and intensities. To make sense of this vast and nuanced landscape, these specific mental illnesses are typically organized into seven broad categories, known as the 7 types of mental health disorders. Understanding these categories can be a crucial first step in demystifying mental health and fostering a more informed and compassionate perspective on the challenges that many people face daily.

1. Anxiety Disorders

Many people experience some anxiety in their lives, but they find that it comes and goes. Individuals who have anxiety disorders don’t see their anxiety go away. Without treatment, an anxiety disorder can progress to the point that the individual feels anxious all the time. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health illness in the United States, impacting an estimated 18.1% of the adult population.

There are many types of anxiety disorders, but some common ones include:

Anxiety disorders can be treated with psychotherapy or medication – or a combination of the two. Therapy will help the individual identify when they feel anxiety and utilize coping mechanisms to reduce the anxious feelings.

2. Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are mental health illnesses that involve emotional challenges. Often, mood disorders cause intense feelings of joy (mania) or sadness (depression) that are hard to manage. While many people have emotional “ups and downs,” individuals with a mood disorder find that these extreme emotional states can last for an extended time.
Some of the most common mood disorders include:

It’s estimated that 6.7% of American adults have at least one depressive episode per year. Mood disorders can be treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. If left untreated, mood disorders can lead to potentially dangerous consequences, such as severe depression and suicide ideation.

3. Psychotic Disorders

Psychotic disorders are severe mental illnesses that cause distorted thinking. Individuals under a psychoses episode frequently experience hallucinations or delusions, making them lose touch with reality. When a person loses touch with reality, they often start to distrust those around them and make decisions that put themselves or others in danger. As a result, people with psychotic disorders must get medication and treatment.
The most common psychotic disorders are schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, and brief psychotic disorder. It’s estimated that only 0.25-0.64% of the American population suffers from psychotic disorders.

4. Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a type of mental illness in which the relationship with food is distorted. These disorders seem to focus on food but are actually often a result of deeper problems, such as feelings of control. Eating disorders are extremely serious and require professional intervention for treatment. It’s estimated that 9% of the global population has some form of an eating disorder.

Some common eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Pica eating disorder
  • Rumination disorder

5. Personality Disorders

A personality disorder is a type of mental disorder in which the person has an unhealthy way of thinking, behaving, and functioning. Personality disorders require psychotherapy for treatment.

Some of the more common personality disorders include:

6. Dementia

Dementia is the broad term for a range of mental health illnesses that cause a person to forget their past. In many cases, this memory loss can become so extreme that it makes it challenging for them to care for themselves.

Some of the more common types of dementia illnesses are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

7. Autism

Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a developmental condition often diagnosed at an early age. Signs of Autism will present themselves very differently from patient to patient but often include challenges with speech, social situations, and nonverbal communication. Some of the symptoms of autism can be lessened with psychotherapy treatment.

Mental illnesses impact the way a person thinks, behaves, or feels. It can be incredibly challenging on the person and those around them, but treatment can help. Alter Behavioral Health provides care for individuals dealing with primary mental disorders, including depression, OCD, ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, mood disorders, and more.

Start today with your free diagnostic test, and we’ll help you get the treatment you need.

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Understanding the Broad Spectrum of Mental Illness

Mental illness is a prevalent concern that affects nearly one in five Americans, emphasizing the need for awareness and understanding across our communities. The complexity of mental health cannot be overstated, with over 200 distinct forms recognized by professionals. From anxiety disorders, which remain the most common mental illness in the U.S., to mood disorders that fluctuate between extreme joy and sadness, to severe conditions like psychotic disorders that cause hallucinations or delusions – the spectrum is vast. Then there are conditions like eating disorders, which, while appearing to revolve around food, are often deep-rooted manifestations of control issues. Add to this the challenges posed by personality disorders, the memory loss linked with dementia, and the developmental hurdles presented by conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder. The journey through understanding mental health can be daunting, but recognizing the seven primary categories of mental disorders is a pivotal step towards demystifying the challenges countless individuals face. As prevalent as mental illness is, it’s crucial to know that tailored treatments and support systems like those offered at Alter Behavioral Health can provide meaningful relief and management for those affected.

FAQs About Different Types of Mental Illness:

How can I differentiate between short-term stress and an anxiety disorder?

Short-term stress is a temporary mental health response, while an anxiety disorder is a persistent mental health issue affecting everyday life.

Do mood disorders have a genetic component?

Yes, genetics can play a role in mood disorders. Individuals with a family history of mood disorders may be at a higher risk, though environmental factors and personal experiences are also significant contributors.

Can someone have both a psychotic disorder and a personality disorder?

Yes, individuals can have both these mental health disorders. It’s possible for an individual to have coexisting psychiatric disorders, known as comorbidity. Someone can have both a psychotic disorder and a personality disorder, though each should be diagnosed and treated separately.

What are the early signs of eating disorders in teenagers?

Early signs can include significant weight fluctuations, calorie obsession, food-related social withdrawal, and mood swings can indicate this mental health issue.

How do dementia and age-related cognitive decline differ?

Age-related cognitive decline is a normal part of aging and usually involves minor memory lapses or slower information processing. Dementia is a more severe mental health problem affecting daily life, whereas cognitive decline is a typical aging process aspect.

What interventions are effective for children with autism?

Effective interventions for children with autism often include behavioral management therapy, speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and structured educational programs tailored to play a key role in addressing this mental health condition with the child’s needs. Early intervention is crucial.

Are substance-related disorders only linked to illegal drugs?

No, mental health disorders can arise from the misuse of both legal substances like alcohol, prescription medications, and nicotine, as well as illegal drugs.


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