Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Please see a list below of some of the different types of mental illnesses.
Self-harm is not a mental illness, but a behavior that indicates a need for better coping skills. Several illnesses are associated with it, including borderline personality disorder, depression, eating disorders, anxiety or post-traumatic distress disorder.
When feelings of intense fear and distress become overwhelming and prevent us from doing everyday activities, an anxiety disorder may be the cause. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. More than 40 million adults in the U.S. (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile, approximately 7% of children aged 3-17 experience issues with anxiety each year. Most people develop symptoms before age 21.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition in which characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in young people. An estimated 8.8% of children aged 4-17 have ADHD. While ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, it does not only affect children. An estimated 4.4% of adults aged 18-44 have ADHD.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affect a person’s ability to socialize and communicate with others. People with ASD can also present with restricted and/or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. The term “spectrum” refers to the degree in which the symptoms, behaviors and severity vary within and between individuals. Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled. An average of 1 in every 59 8-year-old children in the U.S. have ASD. Boys are four times more likely than girls to develop symptoms of ASD.
Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from one day to months. This mental illness causes unusual and dramatic shifts in mood, energy and the ability to think clearly. Cycles of high (manic) and low (depressive) moods may follow an irregular pattern that differs from the typical ups and downs experienced by most people. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can have a negative impact on a person’s life. Damaged relationships or a decline in job or school performance are potential effects, but positive outcomes are possible.
Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally, with about 2.8% of U.S. adults experiencing bipolar disorder each year. Approximately 83% of cases of bipolar disorder are classified as “severe.” More than 10 million Americans have bipolar disorder. Although the illness can occur at any point in life, more than one-half of all cases begin between ages 15-25. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a condition characterized by difficulties regulating emotion. This means that people who experience BPD feel emotions intensely and for extended periods of time, and it is harder for them to return to a stable baseline after an emotionally triggering event. This difficulty can lead to impulsivity, poor self-image, stormy relationships and intense emotional responses to stressors. Struggling with self-regulation can also result in dangerous behaviors such as self-harm (e.g. cutting).
It’s estimated that 1.4% of the adult U.S. population experiences BPD. Nearly 75% of people diagnosed with BPD are women. Recent research suggests that men may be equally affected by BPD, but are commonly misdiagnosed with PTSD or depression.
Depressive disorder, frequently referred to simply as depression, is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care. Left untreated, depression can be devastating for those who have it and their families. Fortunately, with early detection, diagnosis and a treatment plan consisting of medication, psychotherapy and healthy lifestyle choices, many people can and do get better. Some will only experience one depressive episode in a lifetime, but for most, depressive disorder recurs. Without treatment, episodes may last a few months to several years.
More than 17 million U.S. adults—over 7% of the population—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. People of all ages and all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds experience depression, but it does affect some groups more than others.
Dissociative disorders are characterized by an involuntary escape from reality characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory. People from all age groups and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds can experience a dissociative disorder.
Up to 75% of people experience at least one depersonalization/derealization episode in their lives, with only 2% meeting the full criteria for chronic episodes. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with a dissociative disorder.
Substance use disorders — the repeated misuse of alcohol and/or drugs — often occur simultaneously in individuals with mental illness, usually to cope with overwhelming symptoms. The combination of these two illnesses has its own term: dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders. Either disorder (substance use or mental illness) can develop first.
9.5 million U.S. adults experienced both mental illness and a substance use disorder in 2019 (The National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
Eating disorders are a group of related conditions that cause serious emotional and physical problems. When one becomes so preoccupied with food and weight issues that it’s harder and harder to focus on other aspects of life, it may be an early sign of an eating disorder.
Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, in which people will deny themselves food to the point of self-starvation; and bulimia nervosa, in which people feel out of control and binge on very large amounts of food during short periods of time, and then desperately try to rid themselves of the extra calories using forced vomiting, abusing laxatives or excessive exercise; and Binge Eating Disorder (BED), in which a person loses control over their eating and eats a very large amount of food in a short period of time, but does not attempt to purge or exercise excessively like someone living with anorexia or bulimia would. Without treatment, eating disorders can take over a person’s life and lead to serious, potentially fatal medical complications. Eating disorders can affect people of any age or gender, but rates are higher among women. Symptoms commonly appear in adolescence and young adulthood.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by repetitive, unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and irrational, excessive urges to do certain actions (compulsions). Although people with OCD may know that their thoughts and behavior don’t make sense, they are often unable to stop them.
Traumatic events—such as an accident, assault, military combat or natural disaster—can have lasting effects on a person’s mental health. While many people will have short term responses to life-threatening events, some will develop longer term symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD symptoms often co-exist with other conditions such as substance use disorders, depression and anxiety. A comprehensive medical evaluation resulting in an individualized treatment plan is optimal.
PTSD affects 3.6% of the U.S. adult population—about 9 million individuals. About 37% of those diagnosed with PTSD are classified as having severe symptoms. Women are significantly more likely to experience PTSD than men.
Psychosis is characterized as disruptions to a person’s thoughts and perceptions that make it difficult for them to recognize what is real and what isn’t. These disruptions are often experienced as seeing, hearing and believing things that aren’t real or having strange, persistent thoughts, behaviors and emotions. While everyone’s experience is different, most people say psychosis is frightening and confusing.
Psychosis is a symptom, not an illness, and it is more common than you may think. In the U.S., approximately 100,000 young people experience psychosis each year. As many as 3 in 100 people will have an episode at some point in their lives.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness. The exact prevalence of schizophrenia is difficult to measure, but estimates range from 0.25% to 0.64% of U.S. adults. Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women.