What Are the 10 Types of Mental Disorders? Symptoms & Causes

Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2022
What Are the 10 Types of Mental Disorders
About 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental health disorders each year. Learn about 10 types of mental disorders and their causes and symptoms

Mental disorders can negatively affect a person’s mood, behavior, and thinking ability. These abnormalities can impact personal and professional relationships, sometimes creating an unhealthy environment for both the person and the people in their lives. 

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental health disorders each year, which is over 19% of the population.

10 types of mental disorders: symptoms and causes

1. Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders cause people to respond to certain objects or situations with fear or dread. Common anxiety disorders include:

Symptoms of anxiety disorders:

Causes of anxiety disorders:

  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Environment
  • Chemical imbalances in the brain

Risk factors for anxiety disorders:

  • Traumatic events in early childhood or adulthood
  • Physical health conditions such as thyroid problems or arrhythmia
  • Family history of anxiety or other mental disorders

2. Mood disorders

Mood disorders are also known as affective disorders, and they involve persistent grief or sorrow alone or combined with periods of ecstasy or happiness. People with mood disorders may experience fluctuations between extreme joy and extreme sadness. Some of the most common mood disorders include:

Symptoms of mood disorders:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Difficulty sleeping or daytime sleepiness
  • Loss of appetite or binge eating
  • Poor concentration
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Feeling ecstatic, high, or elated for no reason
  • Feeling jumpy or wired and being more active than usual
  • Being short-tempered or seeming extremely irritable
  • Racing thoughts and talking very fast
  • Needing less sleep
  • Feelings of being unusually important, talented, or powerful
  • Risky behaviors such as going on spending sprees or having reckless sex

Causes of mood disorders:

3. Psychotic disorders

Psychotic disorders are characterized by distorted awareness and thinking. Schizophrenia is a common example of a psychotic disorder.

Symptoms of psychotic disorders:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thoughts or speech
  • Lack of emotion and/or changes in facial expression
  • Difficulty understanding speech or other forms of communication
  • Difficulty making sense of new information
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of interest in spending time with people or having fun
  • Minimal movement or talking
  • Poor hygiene
  • Problems learning and remembering

Causes of psychotic disorders:

  • Stress
  • Drug abuse
  • Major life changes
  • Family history
  • Chemical (glutamate) imbalance in the brain

4. Eating disorders

Eating disorders involve abnormal thoughts or behavior about food and weight and may cause people to eat too much or too little. Eating disorders can lead to heart and kidney problems. Common eating disorders include:

Symptoms of eating disorders:

  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Exercising excessively
  • Refusal to eat certain foods
  • Avoiding mealtimes or eating in front of others
  • Complaining about constipation or stomach pain
  • Constant dieting
  • Complaining about being fat
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide the body
  • Hiding food in strange places

The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, although a complex interaction of the following factors can lead to their development:

  • Genetic
  • Biological
  • Behavioral
  • Psychological
  • Social

5. Personality disorders

People with personality disorders have unhealthy, inflexible thoughts and behaviors that may pose serious problems with relationships and work. Common personality disorders include:

Symptoms of personality disorders:

  • Social anxiety that causes difficulty making friends
  • Desiring constant attention
  • Lack of impulse control or difficulty delaying gratification
  • Inability to realize or admit their faults (ego-syntonic symptoms)
  • Blaming others for their behaviors and feelings
  • Feeling of being cheated or exploited
  • Mood swings
  • Angry outbursts

Causes of personality disorder:

6. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD develops after a traumatic experience such as sexual assault, physical assault, natural disaster, or death of a loved one. Memories of the trauma may have disturbing effects on the person.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder:

  • Reliving the trauma including memories, nightmares or flashbacks
  • Feeling “numb”
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Avoiding certain people or places
  • Intense feelings such as anger, fear or worry

7. Impulse control and addiction disorders

These disorders are characterized by an irresistible urge to engage in risky behaviors or get addicted to certain substances. Common impulse control and addiction disorders include:

Symptoms of impulse control and addiction disorders:

  • Hair pulling
  • Stealing
  • Compulsive lying
  • Poor social skills
  • Ignoring responsibilities and relationships
  • Being aggressive toward animals
  • Destroying the property of others
  • Starting fires
  • Violating rules such as running away or skipping school at an early age

Causes of impulse control and addiction disorders:

  • History of physical or emotional trauma
  • Problems with emotional regulation
  • Neglectful or abusive parenting
  • Exposure to violence

8. Factitious disorders

Factitious disorder is a psychological condition in which a person acts as if they have a physical or mental illness when they do not, making up or exaggerating symptoms. They may even tamper with medical tests to convince others that they need treatment.

The most common falsified symptoms and diseases include:

Potential warning signs of factitious disorders:

  • Unclear or inconsistent symptoms
  • Extensive knowledge about hospitals, medical terms, and illnesses
  • Frequent hospital stays
  • Conditions that don’t respond to standard treatment
  • Conditions that may worsen following an improvement in the condition
  • Presence of many scars
  • Refusal of a psychiatric or psychological evaluation
  • Refusing doctors to meet or talk with family members, friends, and previous doctors
  • Appearance of new symptoms following negative test results
  • Eagerness to undergo medical tests, procedures, or operations
  • Predicting negative medical outcomes despite no evidence
  • Having few visitors while hospitalized
  • Arguing with hospital and medical staff
  • Disrupting discharge plans or exaggerating symptoms while being discharged
  • Presence of symptoms when alone or when not being observed
  • Remarkable but inconsistent medical history

Causes of factitious disorders:

9. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterized by disturbing thoughts or fears that cause people to perform repetitive rituals or routines. Compulsions are not connected in a realistic way to the feared event.

Symptoms of OCD:

  • Repetitive and persistent thoughts
  • Repetitive behaviors such as washing hands or changing clothes too frequently
  • Feeling overly stressed when there is any change in routine
  • Excessive fear of germs or dirt
  • Repeatedly counting or checking things

10. Sexual and gender disorders

Sexual and gender disorders affect sexual desire, performance, and behavior. Common sexual and gender disorders include:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Gender identity disorder
  • Paraphilias

Symptoms of sexual and gender disorders:

  • Conflict between gender assigned at birth and gender identity
  • Sexual urges relating to objects
  • Inhibited sexual desire
  • Avoiding sexual opportunities for fear of failure

Causes of sexual and gender disorders:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Exposure to certain hormones before birth
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2022
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