The Many Types of Mental Health Disorders

By February 28, 2021February 22nd, 2024Mental Health
types of mental health disorders

There are many types of mental health disorders. While many of these can share similar symptoms, it’s important to understand that a disorder may affect one person differently than another. For this reason, it’s always best to seek professional evaluation and guidance. A professional offering sustainable recovery will have the experience and insight needed to guide you along your journey as you strive to heal your mind, body, and spirit.

In this article, we’re exploring several common types of mental health disorders. If you suspect you may be experiencing one of the following mental health disorders and turn to substances to self-medicate uncomfortable feelings, consider exploring the benefits of co-occurring disorder treatment.

Types of Mental Health Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) contains close to 200 diagnoses, and it would be outside the scope of this article to begin to list them all. Thankfully, the authors of the current DSM have neatly categorized the various disorders underneath headings that encompass the core of the concern. The following are some of the major categories of disorder, as well as a few of the more common diagnoses ascribed to them.

Here are several common types of mental health disorders and variations.

Anxiety-Related Disorders

Having a sense of anxiety is perfectly normal when being faced with a genuine threat. Anxiety stems from our instinctual flight-or-fight response and is the body’s way of preparing for danger. When we carry around that high level of alertness throughout the course of a normal day, however, an anxiety disorder may be the cause.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most frequently diagnosed mental disorders. It is characterized by feeling a sense of dread, worry, or anxiousness, but without having a direct source of concern to point a finger at. Those struggling with GAD may find themselves struggling to concentrate and unable to get a good night of sleep, and may also experience physical symptoms related to the stress.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety is something that many of us experience as teens. If we are unable to move past this developmental feeling of awkwardness around others, we may be suffering from a social anxiety disorder. People with this disorder will excessively worry about how others may be judging them and will be unable to relax in social situations.

Mood Disorders

When we think of mood, most of us think of feelings. While feelings are definitely linked to mood, your mood is more of a state of predisposition. When our mood orientation is negative or fluctuating, our feelings tend to follow suit.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Major depressive disorder is another very common diagnosis. With MDD, a person will consistently feel hopeless, sad, and unmotivated to move forward in life. The level of diagnosis will be specified based on the severity and recurrence of the symptoms, ranging from mild to severe.

Bipolar Disorder

Compared to the doldrums of MDD, bipolar disorder may seem like it has some benefits. Rather than only feeling depressed, a person with bipolar disorder will also experience intense periods of feeling good. Unfortunately, these manic periods often come with lapses in judgment that can result in regrettable actions.

Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders

The diagnoses found underneath this category in the DSM-V were once placed in various other sections. As our knowledge of the impact of trauma grew, crafters of the manual determined that it deserved a category of its own. Diagnoses under this category may also be accompanied by many of the symptoms described in others.

The most common diagnosis found under this category is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) The criteria for being diagnosed with PTSD include the onset of symptoms following exposure to a traumatic event. The event can be caused by first-hand experience or second-hand exposure to a traumatic event. The subjective nature of what constitutes trauma, combined with the individual’s ability to process the events, makes the condition of PTSD best left in the hands of an experienced professional.

Personality Disorders

Unlike other disorders, personality disorders are generally considered to be something a person has been – and will be – living with for her lifetime. Focus on specific personality disorders tends to follow a trend, with some of the types of diagnoses falling out of the limelight, while others gain attention.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

One of the fastest-growing categories of personality disorder is that of borderline personality disorder. General consensus is that those with this disorder have undergone some sort of difficulty in childhood, resulting in an adult life that is maladapted to the requirements of adult functioning. A person with borderline personality disorder has difficulty forming healthy relationships with others, will tend to experience severe mood swings, and suffers from a poor sense of self.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Women with NPD are unlikely to seek mental health treatment on their own, which can make arriving upon a definitive diagnosis difficult. NPD is characterized by an inflated sense of self-worth and a callous approach toward the needs and feelings of others.


Diagnoses related to psychosis have common symptoms of hallucination, delusion, and disorganized thinking. In some cases, the psychosis can manifest as catatonia, which is the absence of response to external and internal stimuli. The subtle differences in expression will determine which diagnosis best captures what is going on for a person with psychosis. By far, the most common diagnosis of psychosis is that of Schizophrenia. Other forms of psychosis include Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Each of these diagnoses varies in the amount of disruption that they cause in the daily life of the sufferer.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders

When it comes to mental health, it can be difficult to determine which symptoms are related to a mental state, and which are related to the actual structure of the neurons in the brain. Experts have determined that certain types of disorders are based on the latter. Mood and behavioral disturbances for those diagnosed in this category are typically connected to the differing ways that the brain works. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Intellectual Disability, and Autism Spectrum Disorders all fall into this category.

Substance Abuse Disorders (SUD)

Substance abuse disorders and mental health are increasingly being taken into consideration as co-existing conditions. The DSM has a myriad of SUD diagnoses. They are categorized on the basis of which type of drug is being used, how frequently, and which mental health symptoms are arising as a result. Mental health symptoms associated with SUD include all of the anxiety and mood disorders, as well as symptoms of psychosis.


There are many types of mental health disorders, each of which can have a unique effect on how you feel. If you believe you might identify with any of the mental health disorders mentioned above and you regularly turn to alcohol or prescription drugs as a form of self-medication, it’s time to reach out for help.

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