Different Types of Mental Disorders

Depression: More Than Just Feeling Sad

Mental disorders affect people in all walks of life. The types of mental disorders range from mild to severe, lowering your quality of life and making it difficult to function daily. The good news is that in the past couple of decades, the stigma surrounding mental illness has turned into a broad, mainstream understanding that mental illness is not a personality flaw, a sign of “weakness,” or a moral failing, but rather a medical condition of the brain that requires mental health treatment

Mental illness is diagnosable and treatable through both medications and therapy. Understanding common mental disorders can help you or someone you love find life-changing treatment. Here, we look at nine of the most common types of mental disorders, including their symptoms and how they’re treated.

How Can We Help?

Providing a Compassionate and Safe Environment for Healing.

Depression is a pervasive mental disorder that affects nearly 7% of the population in any given year. Depression goes beyond feeling sad from time to time. It’s characterized by a persistent low mood, a general lack of energy, and a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Other symptoms of depression include:

  • Weight loss or weight gain due to changes in appetite
  • Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide

The causes of depression include genetic predisposition, personality, chemical brain imbalances, and environmental factors like trauma, poverty, or the death of a loved one. In many cases, more than one factor contributes to depression—and depression can co-occur with a host of other mental disorders, including anxiety, PTSD, and eating disorders.

Depression is a highly treatable mental disorder with a success rate of between 80% and 90%. The best depression treatment in Irvine, include a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on learning to recognize and change distorted thinking patterns. 

Anxiety: When Worry Takes Over

Anxiety disorders affect nearly 20% of the U.S. adult population and are characterized by persistent feelings of fear or dread and excessive worrying. It can manifest as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, or generalized anxiety disorder. Not everyone with anxiety experiences the same symptoms. Some people may experience only one symptom, while others experience many. Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Negative intrusive thoughts that are difficult to control and that won’t go away. These often get worse over time.
  • Physical sensations like a pounding heart, buzzing sensations in the limbs, shortness of breath, dizziness, or unexplained pains.
  • Avoiding people or activities you once enjoyed.
  • Sweating or twitching
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or frequent urination

Causes of anxiety can include genetics, physical health conditions like thyroid problems, a history of trauma, and personality traits like extreme shyness. Effective treatments for anxiety disorders include a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, and complementary therapies like biofeedback, art or music therapy, and mindfulness meditation practices. 

Autism and Co-occurring Disorders: A Complex Interaction

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by signs like repetitive behaviors, restricted interests, difficulties with social interaction and communication, and repetitive behaviors that make life difficult. People who have ASD may exhibit some of these signs and characteristics:

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Doesn’t show facial expressions
  • Doesn’t relate to the emotions of others
  • Repeats words and phrases over and over
  • Obsessively interested in specific topics
  • Highly sensitive to sounds, smells, physical sensations, tastes
  • Must follow a certain routine and gets upset by minor deviations

Many people with ASD have one or more co-occurring mental disorders, including ADHD, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and insomnia. Co-occurring conditions can make certain features of ASD more prominent, or they can mask symptoms of ASD. Overlap in symptoms can often delay a diagnosis of ASD. 

Treating ASD and co-occurring disorders requires a multi-faceted approach that includes treating underlying physical disorders, providing therapy and/or medication for co-occurring mental disorders, and creating a treatment plan that’s highly tuned to the individual’s needs and challenges. 

types of different mental illnesses and disorders

Bipolar Disorder: Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster

Previously known as manic depression, bipolar disorder involves extreme mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. The exact cause of bipolar disorder remains unclear, but genetic factors and neurotransmitter imbalances play a role. People who have a family history of bipolar are at a higher risk of developing it, as are people who have a substance use disorder or who have experienced trauma. 

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include manic episodes and depressive episodes. During a manic episode, a person with bipolar disorder may:

  • Feel intense euphoria
  • Act jumpy or exhibit strange behaviors 
  • Have excessive energy or restlessness
  • Have insomnia 
  • Be irritable, impulsive, easily distracted, or agitated

During a depressive episode, they may:

  • Feel depressed, hopeless, empty, or anxious
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Feel tired or lethargic
  • Exhibit forgetfulness, indecisiveness, and difficulty concentrating
  • Have changes in sleep patterns or appetite
  • Have thoughts of death or suicide

Treating bipolar disorder requires mood stabilizers, therapy, and lifestyle adjustments to minimize the impact of these mood shifts.

Trauma and PTSD: The Echoes of Past Experiences

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a response to traumatic events and experiences, such as an accident, natural disaster, military combat, or sexual or physical assault. Some people have short-term responses to trauma, while others develop long-term, sometimes debilitating symptoms, collectively known as PTSD. Women are considerably more likely than men to experience PTSD.

PTSD often co-occurs with substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, and depression. Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Involuntary and intrusive memories that cause distress
  • Flashbacks, during which you feel like you’re experiencing the traumatic event again
  • Frequent, intense nightmares or trouble sleeping
  • Avoidance of certain places, objects, or people that trigger a memory and activate unpleasant symptoms 
  • Difficulty remembering the traumatic event
  • Feeling numb, depressed, or guilty
  • Feelings of surrealness 
  • Hypervigilance and easily startled

The symptoms of PTSD are directly associated with trauma and occur in around 3.6% of the U.S. adult population. It’s unclear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t, but researchers point to a few possible factors, like having a long history of trauma or having little social support after a trauma. Trauma can alter the brain’s chemistry and structure, contributing to the development of PTSD.

Treating and managing PTSD requires a combination of treatments, including trauma-focused psychotherapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, medications, support groups, and self-soothing and mindfulness techniques. 

How Can We Help?

Providing a Compassionate and Safe Environment for Healing.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Not Just a Childhood Disorder

ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that’s estimated to affect nearly 9% of U.S. children and over 4% of U.S. adults. It involves difficulties with attention, impulse control, and hyperactivity. While its exact cause is unknown, factors like genetics, brain structure, and environment are believed to contribute to it. People with ADHD may:

  • Have difficulty staying focused on a task
  • Have a need to move around, fidget, or talk constantly
  • Have difficulty with self-control, including the ability to delay gratification or wait their turn

These behaviors are generally severe in people with ADHD and may interfere with their ability to function socially, hold a job, or succeed in school.

Although researchers don’t yet know exactly what causes ADHD, genetics is thought to play a large role. A combination of other factors may also contribute to ADHD, such as brain injuries, poor nutrition, and social environments. Common co-occurring disorders include depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, learning disabilities, and substance use disorders.

Treating ADHD is a matter of reducing and managing symptoms through a combination of stimulant or non-stimulant medications, psychotherapy, behavioral interventions, support groups, and stress management techniques.

Schizophrenia: The Mystery of the Mind

Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder that affects less than one percent of the U.S. population. Characterized by distorted thinking, hallucinations, delusions, and impaired social functioning, schizophrenia is a complex disorder affecting both men and women. It often co-occurs with a substance use disorder, which makes it more difficult to treat.

Symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Psychosis, or loss of touch with reality
  • Delusions or fixed false beliefs despite evidence showing otherwise
  • Hallucinations, seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there.
  • Disorganized thinking and speech
  • Abnormal movements
  • Difficulty or inability to express emotions, engage in daily activities, or experience pleasure.

Although the exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown, it’s believed to be a combination of genetics, brain chemical imbalances, environmental factors, and life stressors. 

Many people with schizophrenia lead productive, happy lives. Effective treatment for schizophrenia involves managing symptoms with antipsychotic medications, supportive psychotherapies, and interventions that help reduce stress and support social and employment skills. 

Borderline Personality: Emotional Instability and Relationships

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) leads to unstable relationships, self-image, and emotions. People with BPD often struggle with fear of abandonment and impulsive behaviors. They may experience frequent mood swings, impulsiveness, and anger that alienate them from friends and family, making relationships difficult to sustain.

Borderline personality disorder typically starts by early adulthood and often gets better with age. Symptoms of BPD include:

  • A history of unstable relationships
  • An intense fear of being abandoned or rejected
  • Ever-shifting changes in self-identity and self-image and shifts in personal goals and values
  • Engaging in impulsive and risky behaviors, including substance use, binge eating, or unsafe sex
  • Thoughts or threats of suicide or self-injury
  • Mood swings and intense, inappropriate anger
  • Feelings of emptiness

Like most other mental disorders, the causes of borderline personality disorder are a combination of genetic predisposition, childhood stress or trauma, and brain structure differences. BPD can seriously damage your education, career, relationships, and physical well-being. Common co-occurring disorders like bipolar disorder, eating disorders, PTSD, ADHD, and substance use disorders can make treating BPD difficult—but treatment can help you successfully manage your condition and maintain healthier relationships. 

Treatments for BPD include dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy, other psychotherapies, and medication.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): Multiple Identities, One Individual

Content Brief: Finally, explore ‘DID.’ Explain the nature of this disorder, its causes, symptoms, and potential treatments.

Dissociative disorders involve issues with self-identity, sense of self, emotional regulation, perception, and behavior, making mental functioning very difficult.

Dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder, involves the presence of two or more distinct identities within one individual. The signs and symptoms of DID can cause serious problems in relationships, school, work, and home. These symptoms include:

  • Having two or more distinct identities, known as personality states, which each have their own memories, thought patterns, and behaviors
  • Continual gaps in memory about personal identity, traumatic events, and everyday experiences

While the exact cause of dissociative identity disorder isn’t well understood, risk factors include people who experienced repeated and overwhelming trauma in childhood, such as physical and/or sexual abuse. People with DID are at a high risk of having suicidal tendencies—more than 70% of outpatients with DID have attempted suicide.

Treating dissociative identity disorder involves psychotherapy that helps those with the condition get control over their symptoms and ultimately integrate the different identities. Therapies effective for treating DID include psychoeducation, integration therapy, and psychotherapies like CBT and DBT. While there aren’t any medications that treat DID, a variety of medications help treat co-occurring disorders like depression and anxiety.

FAQs About Mental Health Disorder:

What are the key differences between anxiety and depression?

The main difference between anxiety and depression is that while anxiety involves excessive worry and fear, depression is characterized by persistent low mood and loss of interest in daily activities. Additionally, anxiety often involves heightened arousal, whereas depression is associated with low energy levels.

How does trauma lead to PTSD, and what are its major symptoms?

Trauma can lead to PTSD through the brain’s altered response to stress. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, avoidance of triggers and reminders, states of hypervigilance, and emotional numbing.

What is meant by ‘co-occurring disorders’ in the context of autism?

Co-occurring disorders in autism—and any other mental disorder—refer to mental conditions accompanying the disorder, such as ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or anxiety disorders. These co-occurring disorders can complicate diagnosis and require various treatments and interventions tailored to the individual.

How does ADHD affect adults compared to children?

ADHD affects adults and children differently. In adults, hyperactivity often shows up as general feelings of restlessness, while in children it typically presents as an abundance of energy and causes squirming and constant fidgeting. ADHD-related inattention in adults shows up at work in the form of careless mistakes, inattention to detail, and general disorganization and forgetfulness. In children, it exhibits as losing things, avoiding tasks they dislike, and having trouble listening when they’re being spoken to. Finally, impulsiveness in adults can manifest in blurting things out, overspending, engaging in risky behaviors, interrupting others in conversation, and making inappropriate comments. In children, it shows up as things like cutting in line, blurting out answers, acting without thinking things through, and intruding on others’ personal space.

What are the most common symptoms of schizophrenia?

The most common symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and impaired social functioning. Some people with schizophrenia may experience a disconnection from reality.

How does Borderline Personality Disorder affect personal relationships?

BPD can strain relationships due to emotional instability, fear of abandonment, and impulsive behavior. Therapy can help individuals learn healthier ways of managing emotions and relating to others.

What makes Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) unique among other mental disorders?

DID is unique due to the presence of multiple distinct identities within one person. These identities can have different memories, preferences, and behaviors. Integrating these multiple identities into one primary identity is the overarching goal of DID treatment.

What are the common treatments for these mental disorders?

Treatments for mental disorders vary, but they generally include some type or types of psychotherapy such as CBT or DBT, medications like antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and antipsychotic medications. Other treatments include lifestyle changes, a strong support network, and complementary therapies such as mindfulness training, biofeedback, or art or music therapy.

Turn to Alter for Mental Health Disorder Treatment in California

Alter is the top choice for treating many mental health disorders in California. We provide in-depth diagnoses and then follow through with individualized, integrated treatment. Since co-occurring disorders are common, our overarching aim is to provide you with diagnosis and treatment for every mental disorder, each in the context of the others. We aim to set you up for long-term wellness and success in all you do. To learn more about what Alter can do to help you or your loved one with mental disorders, please call us at 866-647-2716. We are standing by now and can help you.

How Can We Help?

Providing a Compassionate and Safe Environment for Healing.