What Are the Five Most Common Mental Disorders?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around one in four American adults suffer from mental illness. However, less than half receive treatment due to the widespread stigma around asking for help.

The five most common categories of mental disorders in men and women aged 18 and older are:

  • Anxiety disorders: Irrational feelings of fear and panic interfere with the individual’s daily life or leave them unable to control their reactions.
  • Major depressive disorder: Causing excessive or continual negative emotions, including sadness, self-loathing, disinterest, and guilt.
  • Bipolar disorder: Alternating manic and depressive episodes producing feelings of elation, increased energy, and poor judgment, followed by sadness, fatigue, irritability, and often, suicidal thoughts.
  • Psychotic disorders: Distorted thoughts and realities brought about by hallucinations and delusions.
  • Eating disorders: Producing extreme reactions and relationships with food.

Substance abuse commonly occurs alongside these mental health disorders and must be addressed and treated simultaneously.

The most widespread mental illnesses within these categories and their treatment options are listed below.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a term used to cover several disorders, including:1

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Causing obsessions and compulsions surrounding cleanliness, safety, hoarding of possessions, visual symmetry, or thoughts of a sexual nature.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): Produces severe feelings of apprehension and worry over activities and events. People with GAD may often be ashamed they can no longer follow their typical routine, giving rise to co-occurring depression.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Develops after experiencing a traumatic event and causes difficulty sleeping, nightmares, aggression, or unwanted thoughts surrounding the cause of their condition.
  • Panic disorder: Causes anxiety and panic attacks triggered by an external or internal stimulus.
  • Specific phobias: Typically resulting in disproportionally extreme levels of fear towards an event, object, or creature.

Anxiety disorders can significantly lower a person’s quality of life and can be very difficult to manage. Treatment involves medication, therapy, and counseling to manage and address the source of the condition.

Major Depressive Disorder

As one of the most widespread mood disorders, its symptoms disrupt the lives of those suffering from it, making them unwilling or unmotivated to participate in social activities and self-care. It may lead to suicidal tendencies.

Treatment involves the possible prescription of antidepressants and identifying the underlying beliefs, experiences, and thoughts that have led to the condition’s development.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings that interrupt a person’s life and relationships.

The manic and depressive stages of bipolar disorder can be managed with medication and intensive treatment to reduce thoughts, situations, and co-occurring mental illnesses that may destabilize the individual’s emotions.

Psychotic Disorders

People suffering from psychotic disorders often struggle to discern what’s real and what’s not. The most well-known of these illnesses is schizophrenia, which involves hearing, seeing, and feeling things that aren’t real.2

People with psychotic illnesses find it very difficult to participate in everyday life and require intensive treatment, including medication and individual therapy to identify factors contributing to each psychotic symptom.

Eating Disorders

The three most common eating disorders are3:

  • Anorexia nervosa: The development of an obsessive relationship with food intake and weight loss.
  • Bulimia nervosa: Binge eating and then vomiting, exercising excessively, or fasting to make up for it.
  • Binge eating disorder: Consistent overeating without the ability to stop.

Eating disorders are severe and can, in some cases, be fatal if not identified and addressed soon enough.Treatment involves intensive therapy and counseling to discuss the subconscious conflicts that caused the disorder.

Mental disorders are often difficult to recognize and even more challenging to treat unaided. Professional help can ease the minds of both the patient and their loved ones and help them better understand their path to recovery or management of the condition.

If you or someone you love struggles with a mental health disorder, get in touch with our team acquire the assistance you need.