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The Most Common Mental Disorders

Mental disorders are a lot more common than we originally believed.

In 2016, there were 44.7 million Americans with a mental disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Needless to say, mental disorders are a lot more prominent than we thought. We still have a lot to learn, but research has provided helpful insight regarding the development, effects, and treatment of mental disorders.

In this article, we will explore the most common mental disorders and their effects.

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What Are the Most Common Mental Disorders?

There are a variety of different conditions recognized as mental illnesses. The most common mental disorders include the following:

  1. Anxiety Disorders

  2. DepressiveDisorders

  3. Bipolar Disorders

  4. Developmental Disorders

  5. Dissociative Disorders

Are Mental Disorders that Common?

The more we study and learn about mental disorders, the more we realize just how common they are.

Here are a few findings from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2016:

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  • 49.5% of adolescents had a mental disorder.

  • Young adults aged 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of a mental disorder.

  • Mental disorders are higher among women (21.7%) than men (14.5%).

1. Anxiety Disorders

Many people feel anxious, like right before giving a speech, or when you temporarily feel frightened. However, when that anxiety grows and starts to interfere with your life when it is excessive and sometimes unrealistic, it may have become a disorder.

There are multiple mental health illnesses that are classified as anxiety disorders. For instance, obsessive-compulsive disorder, which causes unwanted, repetitive thoughts that lead to extreme urges to act a certain way.

Another example is panic disorder (when you feel terror for no reason). It seems to almost appear from out of the blue. Others may experience specific fears or phobias, like flying on an airplane or heights, that create great anxiety when faced with those situations.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur when you have experienced a life event that is so overwhelming you are unable to move past the memories of that event. Combat veterans and people who have suffered from abuse of any kind often experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports it is common for those who suffer from anxiety to also suffer from depression.

2. Depressive Disorders

There are times in your life when you will feel sad. Losing something or someone important to you is an example. There are other times when your feelings of sadness lead to you also feeling hopeless, tearful for no reason, and even physically in pain. This is considered a depressive disorder.

Major depression can leave you feeling as if you do not want to get out of bed each morning. You may want to isolate from friends and family. You may even lose interest in activities you once found enjoyable.

Another type of depression is post-partum depression, affecting many women who have given birth. If left untreated, it can affect the bond formed with the newborn. While having the baby blues can be common, they are not to be taken lightly. If left untreated, the depression can worsen.

Other types of depression include seasonal affective disorder, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder.

3. Bipolar Disorders

Think of bipolar in terms of a swinging pendulum. On one end is depression. On the other end is the opposite, mania, or hyperactivity. When someone suffers from bipolar disorder, their moods swing from one end to the other. This is called cycling.

Cycles can happen in a matter of days, weeks or months. Meaning, a person’s mood may be happy, excitable and even risky one week, then the following week they may be extremely unhappy. There are varying degrees to this.

One person with bipolar may have mild mood swings, while another person’s mood swings can be severe. It is the difference in the severity of the mood swings, especially in terms of mania, that determines if a person has bipolar 1 or bipolar 2.

Those with borderline personality disorder also experience severe mood swings, lack of impulse control and the inability to maintain healthy relationships.

These are not the only disorders associated with having a lack of impulse control, some are formed during development.

4. Developmental Disorders

There are some developmental disorders that become noticeable earlier in life, even as a child. For instance, a person with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder exhibits impulsive behaviors, as well as the inability to sit calmly for an extended period. Some have difficulty remaining calm for a brief period.

In addition, those with ADHD find it hard to concentrate and stay focused. These symptoms often appear in children of school age and are noticed because teachers expect them to be orderly and follow instructions, but they have trouble doing so.

Children with ADHD have been said to talk too much with their peers, which is the opposite of Autism, another developmental disorder.

With autism, children lack the ability to socialize and communicate well with others. As with any other disorder, the degree of severity can vary from person to person.

Other developmental disorders include conduct disorder, attachment disorder, and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. While developmental disorder occurs because of genetic issues, there are other disorders that take place due to traumas that happen in childhood. These are called dissociative disorders.

5. Dissociative Disorders

There are several types of dissociative disorders. Researchers believe these appear because of trauma a child faced in their earlier years, such as sexual or physical abuse. Dissociative disorders are not strictly tied to childhood and can happen to adults as well.

Dissociative amnesia, dissociative identity disorder, and depersonalization or derealization disorder are well known among mental health professionals. Many agree these disorders happen as a defense mechanism produced by the mind to escape a trauma happening.

They create a disconnect between memories, thoughts, perceptions, emotions, identity and even consciousness.

The good news is that all these disorders can be treated so a person can function and lead a good life.

Working with a mental health professional is essential. Together, a treatment plan will be created that may include counseling and medication, so you can learn to live a great life, despite having a disorder.

 


Chris Massman is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Agoura Hills, CA. She graduated Phillips Graduate Institute with a Master of Arts in Psychology in 2014 and received her Chemical Dependency Specialty in 2014. Today, she practices Congnitive-behavioral therapy to help individuals, couples, and families identify and overcome a variety of unique challenges.