An Introduction To The Most Common Mental Health Disorders and Their Treatments
Finding out you struggle with a mental disorder can be a challenging time, even for the most capable and responsible people. After all, nobody really likes to get some unfortunate news about your health. Mental health in particular faces a certain stigma from our culture and society.
Mental illness is often misunderstood and misconstrued in ways that negatively affect those who struggle with said illnesses. The simple way to view mental illness is to understand it as equal to a physical injury or illness. When someone breaks their ankle, they go to the doctor for treatment. Many people would encourage someone who breaks their ankle to immediately go to the doctor and even offer to drive them there and physically support them during recovery.
Physical injuries like broken ankles or scraped knees aren’t things that we usually question treatment for. In fact, we encourage it! Nobody wants to see their family or friends suffering from the pain of a broken bone, and we know that treatment is available to help relieve their pain and put them on track to a full recovery.
In this way, we should also strive to think about mental illness in our family, friends, and even ourselves. It’s true that mental illness looks different from physical injury. You can’t always see a condition like depression like you can see a broken ankle. The symptoms are different too. It’s easier for many of us to understand and acknowledge things we can see. When someone breaks their ankle, they will probably be in a lot of pain and might scream or cry. These auditory cues tell us something is wrong.
But with mental illness, there aren’t always visual or auditory cues that are the same as in a physical injury. Nevertheless, different symptoms don’t mean that mental illness should be ignored. There is treatment for mental illness available. Just like physical injury or illness, we should encourage our loved ones or ourselves to seek the proper treatment to help put them on the path to recovery and a more comfortable life.
Today we’re taking a look at some of the most common mental disorders and their symptoms. If these symptoms apply to you or a loved one, consider seeking treatment with us at SUN Behavioral Columbus. Here, you can find a suitable treatment and helpful staff who will listen to your concerns and support you throughout your treatment.
Personality Disorder: Depression
Depression is probably one of the most recognized mental health concerns. Even if you have not experienced it or don’t know someone who struggles with it, it’s extremely likely that you have at least heard of it before.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “an estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 7.1% of all U.S. adults.”
That’s a large number, and it includes quite a large portion of American adults. If you believe that you or someone you know could be struggling with depression, we encourage you to seek professional assistance. For many people, depression is not a condition that can go away at will or through any attempts to cheer up or look at the brighter side of things. Most people find that professional intervention and medical assistance is needed to help their mental health improve and live a healthier life.
Like other conditions and illnesses, depression can vary in severity depending on the individual and the circumstances. Some individuals might also recognize a change in the severity of their depression during certain parts of the year, growing more—or less—intense as the seasons change.
When you live with depression, you might find it hard to muster up the energy to complete daily tasks. You could feel as if you’re moving kind of slowly and have a kind of heavy sadness hanging over you. Hobbies that used to interest you don’t seem as interesting or worth doing anymore. You could even feel as if life isn’t worth living or feel poorly about your own individual identity and doubt your self-worth.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Feeling sad, lonely, hopeless, and weighed down
- Losing interest in your usual hobbies
- Getting easily irritated or angry over minor problems or inconveniences
- Feeling like you’re constantly low on energy
- Sleeping a lot or having trouble falling asleep at night (insomnia)
- Thinking about death, suicide, or self-harm
- Feeling worthless or guilty about your past actions
Depression is usually treated through the use of medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two treatments. Medication can help bring the brain’s chemical imbalance back towards normal levels and can help boost a patient’s energy so that they can better engage with therapy.
There are a variety of mood disorders. The most common ones are depression and bi-polar disorder. However, because depression is such a well-known and common mental illness, for the purposes of this blog we’ve given depression its own section above.
Mood disorders, as the name implies, affect your mood. Your typical emotional state can seem strange when compared to the situation. For example, minor inconveniences or accidents might make you very angry or very sad all of a sudden.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression or bipolar affective disorder, is a condition in which affected individuals will experience periods of depression in which they can feel sad and empty followed by a period of suddenly being very happy. The period of extreme happiness is also known as mania.
This recurring cycle of depression followed by periods of mania is the most telling symptom of bipolar disorder and is the main characteristic of this illness. You can think of this condition as experiencing very extreme mood swings. The impact of these mood swings is greater than just the stereotypical teenage experience. Bipolar disorder can impact the lives of those affected by it with changes in sleep, levels of energy, normal thinking processes, proper judgment, and behavioral control.
Bipolar disorder’s mood swings occur in specific episodes rather than all the time. How often they occur will depend on the individual, but some individuals could experience them infrequently such as once or twice a year.
Symptoms of a manic episode may include:
- Feelings of euphoria or excessive excitement
- Large surge in energy
- A lack of impulse control
- Engaging in risky behaviors that aren’t normally undertaken
Symptoms of a depressive episode may include:
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loneliness
- Lack of energy
- Insomnia or too much sleep
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Treatment for bipolar disorder is similar to that for depression: medication (as needed) and psychotherapy. Like depression, bipolar disorder can’t simply be brushed off or changed by thinking more positively. However, with treatment, many people can experience fewer or less intense symptoms and can manage their condition while living a higher quality of life.
Anxiety disorders are also relatively commonplace, the most common condition being generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety disorders are more severe and affect a person’s life more than just normal everyday anxiety. Everyone has experienced some kind of anxiety in their life. For some people, that anxiety comes before a big presentation or when performing in an orchestra concert for the first time.
Anxiety disorders are not fleeting. Instead, the anxious feelings will last and don’t go away. Dealing with this condition without any treatment can make daily life and routines difficult to accomplish. Whereas normal feelings of anxiety don’t deter someone from their usual activities, an anxiety disorder can make normal situations like work, school, or going to the grocery store challenging.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Those with generalized anxiety disorder will worry constantly and excessively about numerous things, even routine things that might seem ordinary to others. Those with GAD have trouble controlling their thoughts and can’t seem to control their anxiety levels. GAD often interferes with an individual’s daily life and can make particular mundane tasks such as social conversations difficult.
Symptoms of GAD can include:
- Constantly feeling restless or on edge
- Inability to control your overwhelming worry
- Being more irritable than usual
- Tense muscles
- Problems sleeping or getting poor quality sleep
- Trouble concentrating
Panic disorder is markedly characterized by experiencing panic attacks. Panic attacks are episodes that last a few minutes in which an individual experiences feelings of intense fear. After a few minutes, the symptoms will subside. Some panic attacks occur at random, while others are triggered by a particular situation or object.
As you might imagine, panic attacks can disrupt a person’s life and leave them worried about when and where the next one will occur. Some individuals will go to great lengths to avoid places or people they associate with having a panic attack. This avoidance can make regular chores difficult.
Symptoms of a panic disorder can include:
- A racing heartbeat
- Shaking or trembling
- Feeling shortness of breath or a choking sensation
- Feeling as though everything is out of your control
- Feelings of impending doom
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Separation anxiety disorder was once thought to only occur in children. However, now adults can also be diagnosed with it, though the majority of those who suffer from it are still children.
Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a person experiences great fear and anxiety when being separated or away from a person they’re attached to. This person could be a family member or a friend, for example. When away from this loved one, an individual with separation anxiety disorder might excessively worry about their condition and believe that something bad might happen to them while they are away.
For example, Sam is a five-year-old girl who has separation anxiety disorder. When her mother goes to a doctor appointment and leaves Sam with a babysitter, Sam is constantly anxious and worries about her mom getting into a car accident on the way home. Whenever it’s time for Sam to go to school, her mom has a hard time getting her to get out of the house, since Sam refuses to leave her mother every day.
This condition is more than just worrying. The excessive amount of worrying and inability to be away from a figure like a parent or guardian greatly affects the ability of the individual, in this case, a child, to participate in normal activities like school.
Symptoms of separation anxiety disorder can include:
- Excessive worrying when away from home or separated from a parental figure
- Excessive worrying about that parental figure being in an accident or getting very sick
- Consistent worrying about being kidnapped or lost
- Refusing to leave the house for fear of separation
- Inability or great reluctance to sleep independently
- Recurring nightmares about separation
- Experiencing physical discomforts such as headaches or stomachaches upon separation or anticipation of separation
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is a condition in which individuals have a particular fear and apprehension about social interactions or situations involving public performances or situations. It could also fall under the umbrella of anxiety disorders.
A common fear is that an individual believes they will be judged harshly and negatively by others because of their anxious behavior or appearance. For example, if you get anxious about talking to a clerk in a department store, your cheeks might flush. Those with social anxiety disorder might avoid asking for help in a store, because they don’t want a clerk to make bad assumptions or judge their cheeks turning red.
Even if a situation does take place in a relaxed and casual setting, those with social anxiety might continue to avoid even calm environments. Social anxiety disorder can make daily tasks difficult, since many individuals prefer to avoid putting themselves into situations in which they think they’ll be perceived negatively or make themselves look stupid by saying the wrong thing.
This is more than just being shy or nervous about speaking with new people or entering into new situations. The fear of uncomfortable interaction is overwhelming and can greatly affect a person’s life.
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include:
- Trembling or shaking
- Feeling very nauseous or experiencing stomach pain
- Making an effort to avoid places with people
- Feeling extremely self-conscious when speaking with others
- Worrying about the judgment of others
- Avoiding eye contact or speaking very quietly
- Difficulty speaking with other people, even though you wish you could
Phobia related disorders are those that include a very extreme fear or aversion to certain situations or objects. You might recognize more common phobias that people have such as a fear of flying (aerophobia). Of course, depending on the phobia, some are more common than others. There can be all kinds of phobias that are related to any number of things. For example, someone can have sidonglobophobia, a fear of cotton balls, although this phobia is not as common as a fear of flying.
Symptoms of having a phobia-related condition can include:
- Irrational or excessive worrying about a situation or object
- Intentionally altering your circumstances to avoid the situation or object that causes fear
- Experiencing extreme anxiety upon encountering said situation or object
- Experiencing extreme anxiety when unable to avoid the situation
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder characterized by a consistent and ongoing pattern of an individual’s inattention or hyperactivity that constantly interferes with normal functioning ability.
There are usually three different types of ADHD:
Individuals with this type of ADHD will have more problems related to focusing on the task at hand. They might find it difficult to finish assigned tasks and follow directions.
Individuals with this type of ADHD do not struggle as much with inattention and following through on specific tasks. Instead, these individuals are more hyperactive, as the name suggests. They might struggle with sitting still for a long period of time or waiting for their turn to speak. Observable signs of this type include constant squirming or fidgeting and interrupting others when they’re talking.
Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type
This combination type is the most common type. Individuals with this type of ADHD experience an inability to sit still, higher energy levels, and impulsive behaviors and decision-making.
Typical treatment for ADHD includes behavioral therapy, medication, or some combination of the two. ADHD in children can sometimes cause challenges in school, while in adults, challenges are encountered completing tasks at work. However, with proper management, many individuals with ADHD live just as well as those without the condition.
Dementia itself is not a recognized disease. Instead, you can think of dementia as an umbrella term for other kinds of diseases and conditions. All the conditions that fall under this umbrella have to do with changes in the brain. These changes often cause cognitive decline in areas including thinking skills, memory, and the ability to live life independently. Many of these conditions affect older adults.
Conditions that fall under the dementia umbrella include Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.
Symptoms of a dementia-related condition can include:
- Trouble remembering things, especially in the short-term
- Difficulty keeping track of a purse, wallet, or other belongings
- Getting lost and being unable to find your way back home
- Increasing confusion
- Behavioral changes
- Lack of concentration
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, approximately 20 million American women and 10 million American men have experienced an eating disorder at some point during their life. There are a variety of different eating disorders. Two of the most common and well-known eating disorders include anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Eating disorders often cause affected individuals to become obsessed with body image, weight, shape, dieting, and eating.
Many individuals with eating disorders suffer from a distorted image of what their body looks like. They may try to starve themselves or implement extreme measures such as extreme dieting or overexercising to try and lose weight rapidly. Some individuals continue to believe and see themselves as fat when they are well beneath a healthy weight, causing them numerous health problems.
Anorexia is a condition that is most prevalent during adolescence or early adulthood. It usually affects more women than men. Individuals with anorexia constantly see themselves as being overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. Individuals with anorexia can become obsessed with monitoring and tracking their weight and calorie intake.
Symptoms of anorexia nervosa can include:
- Being dangerously underweight
- Highly restrictive eating and being very cautious about what they eat
- Fear of gaining weight
- Continuing to attempt to lose weight even when it is dangerous
- Low self-esteem about body shape or size
- Distorted body image
Like anorexia, bulimia also develops during adolescence or early adulthood and affects more women than men. Individuals with bulimia will binge-eat very large amounts of food in a specific period of time. The bingeing will continue until the individual is extremely full, perhaps even to the point of pain. During the period of binge-eating, the individual will feel unable to control the amount of food they’re eating.
Usually, binges occur with foods that bulimic individuals don’t usually consume. The binges can also include large quantities of junk food. Following a binge session, individuals will attempt to purge themselves in order to get rid of all the calories they ate during a binge-eating session. This can be accomplished by forced vomiting, taking laxatives, excessive exercise, and diuretics.
Unlike anorexic individuals, bulimic individuals do not usually become underweight. Instead, they manage to maintain a steady weight.
Symptoms of bulimia nervosa can include
- Recurring episodes of binge-eating while feeling out of control
- Recurring episodes of purging through vomiting, laxatives, or other means
- Fear of gaining weight
- Low self-esteem about body shape or size
At SUN Behavioral Columbus, we know that mental health disorders are complex issues that are not always straightforward to deal with. However, our team is ready to help you and your loved ones get the care you need to fulfill your unmet needs. Our team of professionals have treatment plans in place to help support your concerns and needs. Help is available for mental health. Get your help today by calling 614-706-2786.
Frequently Asked Questions and Medical Research
What are the five most common mental disorders?
It’s difficult to pin down exactly which five are the most common, but the categories we’ve discussed in this blog are some of the most common and recognizable mental disorders. These include: mood disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, dementias, and eating disorders.
What are the 10 most common mental disorders?
Similarly, it’s difficult to come up with a comprehensive list of the most common mental disorders. However, the categories we’ve discussed in this blog are some of the most common and recognizable mental disorders. These include: mood disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, dementias, and eating disorders.
What are the seven types of mental disorders?
Depending on who you consult, you could break mental disorders into a varying number of categories. One of the basic ways to view them is as follows: anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychotic disorders.
What is the rarest mental disorder?
There are any number of rare mental disorders that only affect a handful of people, so it can be difficult to declare any one condition the absolute rarest. To give an example, one rare mental disorder is called apotemnophilia and is sometimes referred to as body integrity identity disorder. Individuals who suffer from this condition feel compelled to amputate healthy parts of their body.
Not that much is known about apotemnophilia, but some believe it to be a neurological problem that stems from damage to part of the brain. Cognitive behavioral therapy is currently employed as a treatment for this condition.