common mental health disorders

7 Common Mental Health Disorders

There is a wide variety of different mental health disorders. A mental health disorder is a condition that affects how you think, feel, or behave and may negatively impact your ability to function throughout the day.

In this article, we’re exploring several common mental health disorders and their differences.

Common Mental Health Disorders

The manual which is primarily relied upon by clinicians to classify clusters of symptoms has organized the different types of mental health disorders into distinct categories.

Each of these categories includes specific descriptions of how symptoms manifest for the individual. Here are the most common mental health disorders, followed by a brief description of some of the specific diagnoses that fall under each category. Each mental health disorder may require specific types of mental health treatment.

1. Mood Disorders

Mood disorders involve what is commonly referred to as feelings. While the definition of mood is slightly more complicated than those of feelings, a person suffering from a mood disorder is likely to cite feelings when describing unpleasant experiences. The primary difference between the two terms lies in the duration of the experience, with mood outlasting the transient nature of feelings.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Clients seeking mental health treatment very often come into the office with complaints of experiencing depression. Symptoms of major depression include low motivation, lack of hope in the future, crying spells, and over-sleeping. A diagnosis of MDD will be further clarified with specifiers which indicate the length, frequency, and severity of the depressive symptoms.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD has a lot of symptoms in common with MDD, but has a unique characteristic. Those who suffer from SAD will find that these symptoms only manifest during a certain time of year. The most frequent season to experience SAD is the wintertime, but other seasons are also up for grabs. It can sometimes take some exploration with a trained clinician before the seasonal pattern of the symptoms of depression is identified.

Bipolar Disorder

Another commonly identified mood disorder is that of Bipolar Disorder. This disorder used to be known as Manic-Depressive Disorder. A person with Bipolar Disorder will experience similar symptoms as those found with MDD, but will also experience the opposite. With Bipolar Disorder, the depression is followed by periods of mania, which are experiences of excessively high energy, increase in risk-taking behaviors, and inflated ego.

2. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are in a close running with mood disorders when it comes to taking the top spot in types of diagnoses that are identified on a yearly basis. A common factor in experiences of anxiety disorder is that the flight-or-fight mechanism of the body is in overdrive. The specific conditions under which the anxiety manifests will be the determining factor in which diagnosis is provided.

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

A diagnosis of GAD is as the name implies. A person suffering from GAD will carry around a constant sense of anxiety, but with no real explanation for what is causing it. The generalized nature of this disorder means that it is difficult to predict when the more extreme symptoms of anxiety will strike, making daily functioning difficult.

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Social Anxiety Disorder

Unlike with GAD, a person who suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder will be able to identify what the primary stressor is. Someone with this disorder may feel perfectly at ease when alone or in the company of long-term friends, but then feel like they are coming out of their skin with the anxiety generated by being in public or in the company of strangers. It is common for teenagers to wrestle with a form of social anxiety as they are making their way through puberty, but some of them will have a hard time moving past it.

3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD)

It is fairly common to overhear jokes being made about having OCD. While it is true that many of us have our particular quirks and hangups when it comes to having things done the way we like, there is little to be found funny about a genuine experience of OCD. Those who suffer from OCD will find that they are unable to stop the badgering thoughts and related behaviors, even when they are wreaking havoc on the person’s life. 

4. Trauma and Stress-Related Disorders

When it comes to trauma, the first diagnosis that comes to mind is often that of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) The primary criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD are that the person has been exposed to a traumatic event. The definition of trauma has been expanded over the years but is generally considered to consist of a scenario where there existed a genuine fear of severe harm or death. This exposure to trauma results in lasting consequences for the sufferer of PTSD, including persistent high anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and increasing temptation to hide oneself away from the world.

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5. Eating Disorders

According to statistical data, up to 30 million people in the United States will have struggled with an eating disorder during their lifetime. Females make up more than two-thirds of those numbers. Eating disorders often have root in several of the disorders mentioned above, such as those having to do with anxiety and depression. Even so, due to the unique characteristics of an eating disorder, professionals are advised to obtain specialized training when it comes to helping clients to overcome these damaging habits. Types of eating disorders include Bulemia Disorder (BD), Anorexia Disorder (AD), and Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

6. Psychotic Disorders

Psychotic Disorders are those which manifest as the sufferer losing touch with what we consider reality.  The most common form of psychotic disorder that is encountered is that of Schizophrenia. Before deciding on a mental health diagnosis for these types of symptoms, it is important to rule out the possibility of brain trauma. It is also important to discern whether the psychotic symptoms are produced due to being under the effects of drugs or alcohol.

7. Personality Disorders

Personality Disorders are different from the other types of disorders, as they are meant to capture a pattern of behavior that has remained with a person throughout his or her lifetime. An increasingly discussed personality disorder diagnosis is that of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Internet forums are also filled with discussions about what constitutes someone deserving a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Due to the implication of personality disorders being a lifetime condition, it is important to leave the diagnosis of these disorders to a trained professional.


Now that you’re m,ore familiar with some of the more common mental health disorders, you may want to consider whether or not you identified with any of the descriptions above. If you suspect you may be living with a mental health disorder and want to learn more, consider contacting The Heights Treatment for more information.