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  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, tens of millions of U.S. citizens live with mental health disorders. These conditions impact your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. When left unmanaged, they can impair your ability to function in daily life. 

    There are many different types of mental health conditions. Here are the most common.

    Anxiety Disorders

    Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. However, people with anxiety disorders experience an excessive amount of anxiety, even in non-threatening situations. The most common anxiety disorders include:

    • generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which causes excessive fear in response to everyday stressors
    • panic disorder, which causes frequent panic attacks (episodes of severe anxiety and uncomfortable physical sensations) 
    • social anxiety disorder, which causes excessive fear in social situations
    • selective mutism, which causes intense social anxiety that prevents a person from speaking in certain situation
    • separation anxiety disorder, which causes excessive fear of separation from a loved one or caregiver
    • phobias, such as agoraphobia (fear of places or situations where escape might be difficult) and claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces)

    Developmental Disorders

    Originating in childhood, developmental disorders impact a person’s mental or physical development. The most common developmental disorders that affect mental health include:

    • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which causes difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness
    • autism spectrum disorder (AUD), which impacts how a person communicates, learns, and behaves 
    • conduct disorder (CD), which causes excessive aggression and rule-breaking in children and adolescents
    • oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), which causes excessive anger and defiance in children and adolescents

    Dissociative Disorders

    Typically caused by traumatic events, dissociative disorders cause problems with memory, identity, and sense of self. The most common dissociative disorders include:

    • dissociative amnesia, which causes episodes of memory loss that cannot be explained by another medical condition
    • dissociative identity disorder (DID), which involves the presence of two or more distinct identities who may control a person’s behavior at different times 
    • depersonalization-derealization disorder, which causes a sense of detachment from yourself or your surroundings

    Eating Disorders

    People with eating disorders experience serious issues with food and physical health. The most common eating disorders include:

    • binge eating disorder (BED), which causes episodes of uncontrollable eating, often followed by feelings of guilt and shame
    • bulimia nervosa, which causes episodes of binge eating followed by purging behaviors (such as intentional vomiting, laxative use, or excessive exercise) 
    • anorexia nervosa, which causes an obsession with weight loss that leads to severe food restriction 

    Mood Disorders

    As the name suggests, mood disorders affect your emotional state. The most common mood disorders include:

    • major depressive disorder (also called major depression), which causes overwhelming sadness or numbness, hopelessness, and loss of interest 
    • persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia), which resembles major depression except it causes milder symptoms and often lasts longer
    • bipolar disorder, which causes extreme shifts between emotional highs (mania) and emotional lows (depression) 
    • seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which causes symptoms of depression at certain times of the year (usually fall or winter)

    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) causes unwanted, repetitive thoughts, also known as obsessions. A person with OCD may obsess about anything. However, the most common obsessions include:

    • a fear of germs or contamination
    • a preoccupation with arranging things a particular way 
    • unwanted thoughts involving sex, violence, or religion

    To stop these obsessions, people with OCD perform unwanted, repetitive actions, also known as compulsions. The most common compulsions include excessive cleaning, checking, counting, organizing, and ruminating.

    Personality Disorders

    Personality disorders cause unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that negatively affect a person’s life. The most common personality disorders include:

    • antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), which involves impulsivity, disregard for others, and, in some cases, criminal behavior
    • borderline personality disorder (BPD), which involves unstable moods and difficulty maintaining relationships 
    • narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which involves a lack of empathy and a preoccupation with admiration from others
    • avoidant personality disorder (AVPD), which involves extreme social anxiety, fear of rejection, and avoidance of social situations

    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

    After a traumatic experience (such as war, sexual assault, or domestic violence), some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This condition usually causes intense anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks to traumatic events. Other symptoms may include:

    • low self-esteem
    • irritability
    • trouble concentrating
    • trouble sleeping
    • feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness
    • emotional numbness
    • poor memory
    • loss of interest in activities once enjoyed

    When left untreated, PTSD causes an increased risk of suicide and self-harm.

    Psychotic Disorders

    Psychotic disorders cause psychosis, which is a loss of connection with reality. Psychosis typically involves paranoia (irrational distrust of others), delusions (beliefs that conflict with reality), and hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there). 

    The most common psychotic disorders include:

    • schizophrenia, which causes psychosis alongside other distressing symptoms, such as trouble concentrating, trouble communicating,  and lack of motivation 
    • schizoaffective disorder, which causes symptoms of schizophrenia alongside symptoms of a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder
    • schizophreniform disorder, which causes symptoms of schizophrenia that only last up to 6 months

    In some cases, bipolar disorder can also cause psychosis.

    Substance Use Disorder

    People who battle substance abuse often develop substance use disorder (also called addiction). This condition makes you feel unable to control your drug use despite negative consequences. Other symptoms may include:

    • tolerance (needing increasingly larger or more frequent amounts of a drug to feel the desired effects)
    • physical dependence (experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use drugs)
    • avoidance of family members and friends
    • loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
    • loss of motivation

    Mental Health Treatment Options

    If you or someone you love shows signs of a mental health problem, seek help from a mental health professional. 

    According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the most effective treatment options include psychotherapy, psychiatry, and activities that boost your sense of well-being, such as journaling, exercising, and meditating.

    To learn more about mental health treatment, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. Our mental health care providers offer personalized, evidence-based care to help you or your loved one thrive.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Child Development Specific Conditions
    National Alliance on Mental Illness - Treatments
    National Institute of Mental Health - Mental Illness
    National Institute of Mental Health - Statistics
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Mental Disorders

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