Types of Mental Health Disorders

An estimated one in five adults in the U.S. lives with mental illness. Learn about the most common types of mental health disorders, the importance of getting an accurate diagnosis, and resources you can turn to for help and support.
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If you’re having a difficult time coping with life, you’re definitely not alone these days. An estimated 20 percent of American adults are struggling with mental health issues—a figure most experts agree is on the low side. In fact, according to the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative, half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.

While it might be the last thing you feel like doing, it’s important to reach out for help if you’re concerned about your mental health. Not sure where to turn? You can call 988 or your county’s mental health helpline. You can contact your medical provider. You can schedule an in-person or virtual appointment with a mental health professional. Try to be open about your struggles so you can get the guidance, care and support you need and deserve.

Here are some key facts and quick links to helpful information about mental illness.

What are the different types of mental health disorders?

Mental health disorders is a catch-all name for a wide range of psychological conditions that affect a person’s thinking, mood and behavior. The six most-common mental health disorders psychologists and therapists at Hazelden Betty Ford treat are:

  • Depressive Disorders – Characterized by severe and persistent sadness
  • Anxiety Disorders – Identified by excessive and unshakeable worry
  • Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)– Related to the experience of trauma; often involves flashbacks, anxiety or nightmares 
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – Typically evidenced by inability to stay focused, impulsive behavior or trouble getting organized 
  • Bipolar Disorder – Indicated by intense mood swings and emotional highs/lows
  • Borderline Personality Disorder – Marked by difficulties with emotional regulation, issues with self-image and erratic behavior

What are co-occurring disorders?

Co-occurring disorders refers to the combination of a substance use disorder and one or more other mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety or PTSD. Treatment for co-occurring disorders involves addressing both conditions as primary and inter-related versus treating one at a time.  For example, if you are diagnosed with alcohol use disorder and an anxiety disorder (panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder), drinking is probably one way you manage your anxiety. Likewise, your anxiety symptoms probably worsen with your alcohol use. The conditions are deeply intertwined. Getting your anxiety symptoms under control will be an essential part of getting sober—and vice versa.

How are mental health disorders classified?

Mental health conditions are complex and, as with other illnesses or medical conditions, it’s risky to attempt to self-diagnose. While the internet can be a great resource for general information, a mental health professional can diagnose your symptoms, help you understand what’s going on, and discuss treatment options so you can make informed decisions about the care and support you receive. What makes mental health disorders so complicated to diagnose? There are a number of reasons:

  • The psychiatry/psychology field recognizes more than 200 forms of mental illness.
  • A mental health condition isn’t easily detected through a simple lab test.
  • Signs and symptoms of different mental health disorders often overlap. 
  • A mental health disorder can be classified as mild, moderate or severe based on the number of symptoms, degree of impairment in day-to-day functioning and other factors.
  • Symptoms could develop in reaction to a difficult life situation or come about and/or recur for no apparent reason.