Types of Mental Illness

Published on: Feb 25 2011 by Zaheer

Your ability to adapt to certain situations shows your emotional health, i.e. how emotionally fit, healthy and mature you are. One is called emotionally fit if he or she has the ability to adapt to the different situations with some positive and productive responses. Beside this, one must enjoy the every bit of life, loving others, working in a cheerful way. Being a human, it is not always possible to lead a life free of anxiety, sad or disturbing moments such as losing a loved one or failure etc. in such situations, an emotionally fit person keep his nerve cool and make sure that he is well stable and not overcome by grief, anxiety, or guilt. Emotionally fit person doesn’t get irritated by the setbacks in life and learn from his past mistakes. Those are not emotionally fit fall victim of several types of mental illness.

Types of Mental Illness

In the following lines, we are going to discuss about the different types of mental illness based on the classification made by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Anxiety Disorders

One of the most common forms of emotional disorders is known as anxiety disorder. In such disorder, the patients feel chronic uneasiness. It is observed that the symptoms of an anxiety disorder are much severe and continual than the usual perceptions of nervousness or anxiety. The symptoms of anxiety disorders often occur without any obvious reasons.

The symptoms of anxiety disorders usually range from mild chronic feelings to an overpowering emotional condition along with certain physical responses like muscle tension, increasing heart beat, nausea, high perspiration and blood pressure. Following are given few different types of anxiety disorders:

  • Panic Disorder

The major symptoms of panic disorder are the frequent attacks of severe apprehension, fear and terror. It is possible that the symptoms appear without any obvious reason. Such spontaneity of the symptoms exaggerates the attacks of terror or tearfulness.

  • Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a phobia of open spaces. In the event of agoraphobia, a person begins to avoid particular places or situations. Agoraphobia is often closely associated with panic disorder as they both normally occur simultaneously. The people with both forms of anxiety often found themselves in situations or places where they could not be able to find any sort of help.

  • Specific Phobias

As the name suggests, in specific phobias a person develops a fear regarding any object or situation. Though, the object or situation is not as harmful in normal circumstances. The severe form of the phobia forces a person to avoid that situation or object. Although, a person is aware of the fact that his or her behavior is absurd, he or she doesn’t have any control over their fear. They require some professional assistance to overcome their fear. Some of the different specific phobias are: acrophobia (a fear of height), aerophobia (a fear of flying), arachnophobia (a fear of spiders), xenophobia (a fear of strangers), hemophobia (abnormal fear of blood) and claustrophobia (a fear of confined places).

  • Social Phobia

Social phobia is also known as anxiety disorder. Social phobia is a type of condition or phobia related to one’s behavior. In simple words, it is a kind of fear of behaving in a particular way in a public that ends up in embarrassment. A person with this kind of phobia often evades the social situations which he seems little tough or tricky. The other forms of phobias belong to this category are: a fear of speaking, a fear of meeting new people, and a fear of using public restrooms.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

As the name suggest, a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder often incurred with frequent obsessions and frequent compulsions. In this type of disorder, a person experiences recurrent thoughts based on excessive fear or anxiety which in reality has no existence. With this type of disorder, people often aware of their unreasonable behaviors but this awareness is not enough to overcome this anxiety or fear. In order to overcome their anxiety and fear, these people indulge them in recurrent compulsions or rituals.

Some of the major symptoms of obsessive-compulsion disorder are: a preoccupation with dirt or germs, ending in repeated hand washing and carrying out too much of housekeeping tasks; second-guising previous actions which ends up in constant checking and rechecking to clear doubts; and a need to have items in a very specific arrangement, resulting in strict regimens to ensure order and consistency.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

It is a type of anxiety disorder wherein the people experience recurrent reliving of any traumatic episode along with severe emotional, mental and physical agony when they faced the circumstances reminding of the trauma. People with this disorder often experience the anguish in the form of recurrent nightmares, memories of the past event, or obvious and strong flashbacks that make them feel as if they are experiencing the same situation again. Some of the major causes that trigger this disorder may involve some sort of natural disasters, childhood abuse, vicious crime, or military combat.

  • Acute Stress Disorder

Although, similar to the post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder shows a slight difference in its duration from it. Where post-traumatic stress disorder persists for more than a month, acute stress disorder persists for less than a month.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It is a form of anxiety disorder wherein people experience the symptoms of chronic and overpowering anxiety for a span of almost six months. People often suffer from distress and tension which severely affect the routine chores. Some of the major symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder involve an excessive concerns such as health, family, career, or finances etc, tremors, insomnia, unable to concentrate, fatigue, inability to relax, tetchiness and headaches.

  • Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder

This sort of anxiety is caused due to the use of some sort of drug, medication or even exposure to toxins.

Mood Disorders

The major characteristic of the mood disorders is a serious swing in moods. There can be many reasons behind mood disorders such as biological factors, drug abuse, medication, exposure to toxins, or several other medical conditions. However, genetic sensitivity or genetic tendency can also be the cause of mood disorders in some people. Another major reason behind the development and intensity of the disorder is a personality of a person which too has a major impact on the nature of the disorder. Following are given two major types of mood disorders:

  • Depressive Disorders

Depressive disorder is a type of mood disorders where an individual suffers from powerful feelings of depression and this state persists for about two weeks. During the event of this disorder, a person lacks interest in almost every aspect.

Dysthmic disorder is a form of depressive disorder that persists for about two years. However, this disorder is of mild nature compared to major depressive disorder.

Some of the different symptoms of depressive disorder are: extended events of sadness, loss of appetite, insomnia, anger, anxiety, lack of energy, lack of self-importance and thoughts of suicide etc.

  • Bipolar Disorders

Previously, this disorder was known as manic-depression. Bipolar disorder has so many different modified forms. Bipolar disorder is associated with the occurrence of severe depression substituting with cycles of severe euphoria or manic behavior. Symptoms of bipolar disorder include: sleeplessness, increased mental or physical activities, overstated enthusiasm and increased self importance. An individual with bipolar disorder may indulge himself in dangerous behaviors and tend to take needless risks.

Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders

These disorders are characterized by psychotic symptoms, i.e. a loss of contact with reality, a disorganized thought process, hallucinations, and delusions.

An individual’s actions and speech contributes to a disorganized thought process. With disorganized thought process, a person is not able to organize his/her thoughts and his/her behaviors are quite weird. It is difficult to comprehend a person with disorganized thought process.

Hallucinations or imaginary perceptions are in fact related to the five senses where a person experience hallucinations without the indulgence of any external stimulus. The most recurring hallucinations are auditory hallucinations where a person hears different voices which have nothing to do with reality.

Delusions are basically wrong beliefs. In simple words, it is a misinterpretation of different incidents. One of the best examples in this regard is the belief that one is being under the observation by the police, where in reality it is not true. Another example of delusion is the one where people often have a belief that their thoughts are under the control of some mysterious creatures. Similarly, persecutory delusion is another example where the people think that they are harassed, tortured or spied on.

  • Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is considered as the most complex and devastating mental disorder. The symptoms of schizophrenia are not just limited to hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized thought process but it also include social isolation, insomnia, inability to think and speak normally, or loss of emotional responses. The intensity of schizophrenia varies from individual to individual.

A large number of mental health professionals are of the view that it is a kind of biological illness, i.e. it occurrence is perhaps because of the genetic vulnerability to the disease along with several other factors. The factors can be like those of prenatal problems such as lack of nourishment, or exposure to influenza. There are certain other factors that help in the development of the disease such as tense social and family relations.

Schizophrenia is often associated with the notion of split personality. This development of this concept may be due to the fact that occurrence of the disease is often dealt separately by the phases of normal behavior of an individual.

Schizophrenia is classified into different types depending upon the intensity of the symptoms an individual experience during the episodes of disease.

The first type is paranoid schizophrenia where an individual has powerful feelings of harassment. A person feels that other people are scheming against him with a view to harm him.

Disorganized schizophrenia formerly known as hebephrenic schizophrenia is a type of disorder where an individual suffers with severe speech and behavior disorganization. This disorder has a major impact on individual’s normal life.

The next is catatonic schizophrenia in which a person lost his sensory faculties and also experience stiffness of muscles.

There is a residual schizophrenia in which a person experiences lack of normal activities and behaviors. In this type of schizophrenia, a person isolates himself from other people, shows loss of activities and possesses a blank face.

The next type is undifferentiated schizophrenia in which the symptoms shown by a person belong to different types and it is hard to diagnose the actual problem.

  • Psychotic Disorders

There are certain other disorders which are regarded as the psychotic or schizophrenia disorders. Each and every disorder is described by its major characteristics.

The symptoms shown by psychotic disorder and schizophreniform disorder are quite similar to each other. However, they both are diagnosed on the basis of the duration for which a particular symptom persists. For instance, the symptoms of psychotic disorder normally continue for a day or for a month, but in schizophreniform disorder the symptoms can persist from one month to six months.

The major symptoms of schizoaffective disorder involve mood disorder which can either be bipolar or depressive in nature.

Similarly, in delusional disorder, an individual undergoes a type(s) of delusions that has nothing to do with the reality. For being qualified as a delusional disorder, the duration of delusion(s) should persist for at least a month.

A shared psychotic disorder is a disorder in which an individual is affected by another person having same delusion.

When a person is known to be under the influence of drug abuse, medication or any other toxic substances, they are said to be having substance-induced psychotic disorder.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are chiefly concerned with the constant and prominent episodes of atypical behavior and thinking. Following are given some of the types of personality disorder.

The first is the paranoid personality disorder in which an individual wrongly presumed the other people’s intentions. He believes that other people are planning to hurt him.

The next is the schizoid personality disorder which is defined by the episodes of disinterest in social relationships. The people with this disorder often have blank faces with minimal of interaction with other people.

In the people with schizotypical disorder, odd thinking and behavior are obvious. These people are considered socially and emotionally segregated.

The next in the list is antisocial personality disorder. It is a disorder which is an apt example of disrespecting and defying the rights of the others. This disorder normally begins to develop in the adolescence and often persists up to the adulthood. However, the acuteness of the disorder lessens with the growing age. With this disorder, people don’t regret or feel any sorrow on imposing harm to others.

Borderline personality disorder is another type of personality disorder in which people show instability in relationships. The major symptoms of this disorder include the tetchiness and hastiness.

The attention seeking behavior and undue emotions are attributed to histrionic personality disorder. A person with this disorder often tries to be the center of attention and in his this effort he often found himself under the control of others.

When a person begins to emphasize much on his own self-importance, this state is called narcissistic personality disorder. A person feels satisfy with extreme admiration and doesn’t care for others’ feeling.

The next personality disorder in the list is known as avoidant personality disorder. It is defined by the pattern of feelings of inadequacy or meagerness.

The dependant personality disorder is a disorder in which an individual demands extreme form of care. The person with this disorder often bears clinging and passive behaviors.

The last in the list is obsessive-compulsive personality disorder which is defined by the prominent symptoms of control, perfectionism and tidiness. An individual usually possesses inflexible and obstinate behavior.

Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative disorders are also a type of mental illness which includes the distraction in consciousness, perception, identity and memory. However, the distraction can either occur suddenly or it may develop over time. Dissociative disorders often take the form of chronic conditions.

In dissociative amnesia, an individual lacks the power to bring the information regarding a particular person back into the mind. This condition often disturbs a person and can result in traumatic attack. We can take an example of a person who attempts to commit suicide, but after the episode of dissociative amnesia, he may not remember the whole incident.

Second condition of the dissociative disorder called the dissociative fugue. It is associated with the episodes of spontaneous loss of personal identity and also the loss of memory of the past life. During the event of the attack, a person loses his way to the home or work and walk aimlessly here and there. In more severe cases, the people often take on some new identity. The duration of the episode can last from few hours to months. It is an uncommon condition which is caused because of some tragic incident or severe stress patterns.

The next is the dissociative identity disorder, previously called multiple personality disorder. In this type of disorder, an individual experiences a condition where his own personality is dominated by one or more distinct personalities at different periods of time.

Depersonalization disorder is defined as a disorder in which a person experiences separation from his own thoughts and organs of the body. The episodes of this disorder is often for short period of time and don’t require any medical attention, however, at times the severity is quite extreme and immediate medical attention becomes necessary.

Factitious Disorder

Factitious disorder is a type of mental illness which is often associated to physical or psychological symptoms where a person on purpose appears to be sick or ill. With such disorder, people often try to suggest that they have severe medical problems which actually don’t exist in reality. The only reason behind giving these false displays of symptoms they want to suggest that they are sick.

Somatoform Disorders

Somatoform disorders are also categorized under mental illness. In this type of disorder, an individual usually complaints of having a particular physical symptoms regarding any disease but in reality there is no such symptoms or disease. This condition is considered primarily because of psychological facts rather than true intentions. Most often people suggest the symptoms of blindness, heart problems, respiratory distress or paralysis.

The symptoms are frequent in a person with somatization disorder and the reasons for these symptoms have no prominent medical cause. However, evidences show that the cause of occurrence of these symptoms is psychological. The intensity of the occurrence of these symptoms differs from individual to individual.

In a conversion disorder, the emotional agony takes the form of some physical symptoms. There is no biological cause behind these physical symptoms nor do they link to somatization disorder. An apt example of this type of disorder is that of a person who is a bystander of any horrified event and develops blindness afterwards.

Hypochondriasis is a type of disorder in which a person obsessed with a fear of having a severe disease. A person acts like this on the basis of small abnormalities in the body functions. People with this disorder carry on with their belief of having a severe disease even after having all medical tests clear.

A body dysmorphic disorder is a disorder where a person is anxious about his appearance and believes that he has some kind of minor defect in his appearance.

Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders

Sexual disorders primarily based on different sexual problems such as sexual performance, suitable gender roles, sexual abnormalities. Major disorders under this category are sexual dysfunctions, paraphilias, and gender identity disorders.

Personal sexual desires and activities are often dealt under sexual dysfunctions. In sexual dysfunctions people complaint of having insufficient or unsatisfactory sexual desires or activities.  Symptoms include pain during sexual activity, or other problems related to sexual desire or arousal.

Paraphilias is a sexual disorder in which a person experiences severe and frequent sexual urges or behaviors connected to some odd situations such as exposing oneself (exhibitionism), observing sexual activity (voyeurism), inflicting pain (sadism) and receiving pain (masochism).

In gender identity disorder, a person feels distress or inaptness with one’s own gender. These people develop some strong association with opposite gender and usually involve themselves in cross dressing, hormone treatment or even surgery to get the status of opposite gender.

Other Disorders

There are varieties of other mental disorders including eating disorders, sleep disorders, mental and emotional disorders etc which are subcategorized into number of disorders.


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