What are the Various Types of Mental Illness

In this article, you will learn:

  1. Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  2. Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders
  3. Bipolar and Related Disorders
  4. Depressive Disorders
  5. Anxiety Disorders
  6. Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
  7. Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders
  8. Dissociative Disorders
  9. Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders
  10. Feeding and Eating Disorders
  11. Elimination Disorders
  12. Sleep-Wake Disorders
  13. Sexual Dysfunctions
  14. Gender Dysphoria
  15. Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders
  16. Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders
  17. Neurocognitive Disorders
  18. Personality Disorders
  19. Paraphilic Disorders
  20. Other Mental Disorders

A mental disorder is defined as a syndrome that is marked clinically important disruption in a person’s cognition, emotions, and behavior.

Such a disturbance showcases a dysfunction in the biological, psychological, or developmental processes intrinsic to mental functioning.

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Mental disorders are related to critical suffering in various aspects of life. These include occupational, social, etc. An emotional response to losing a loved one, however, cannot be categorized as a mental illness.

Similarly, socially non-conformist behaviors are not mental disorders. These include religious bias, political brawls, and sexual harassment. This is until such biases or conflicts are not resulting from any dysfunction in the person, as mentioned earlier.

Given the meaning of mental disorder, let us now look at the various mental disorder types and symptoms.

Types of Mental Illness

The DSM-5 is the American Psychiatric Association’s manual for the classification of mental disorders. This contains mental disorders with their diagnostic criteria. Such criteria help in providing more reliable diagnoses of all these mental disorders.

As per DSM 5 mental disorder types can be classified as follows:

1) Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Neurodevelopmental disorders are conditions that occur during the developmental years of an individual. These disorders become evident during the early years of a child’s development. The early years are typically the years before the child goes to grade school.

Further, neurodevelopmental disorders include developmental deficiencies. These result in impairments associated with social, personal, academic, or occupational functioning.

Now, there is a host of developmental deficiencies that occur. Further, these span from issues with learning or regulation of executive functions to global deficits. For instance intelligence or social skills.

Examples of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Some of the major neurodevelopmental disorders include:

a) Intellectual Disability

This disability includes intellectual deficiencies. These include reasoning, problem-solving judgment, abstract thinking, academic learning, etc. Such impairments lead to deficiencies in adaptive functioning. For instance, difficulty in meeting one’s individual standards and social responsibilities in routine life.

b) Communication Disorders

These disorders cover disorders associated with communication. They involve deficiencies in speech, language, and communication. This includes stuttering, language disorder, speech sound disorder, etc.

c) Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder includes continuous deficiencies in social interaction and communication across a host of contexts. For instance, this may include deficiencies in the following.

  • social-emotional reciprocity like failure to respond to social interactions
  • non-verbal communicative behaviors like poor eye contact his is specifically
  • developing, keeping, and understanding relationships like issues in making friends, etc.

Further, this also includes limited, repeated behavioral patterns that exist in early childhood. These result in clinically important impairment. And such impairment is with regards to social, occupational, and other critical aspects of life.

d) Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

This is a type of disorder that involves a continuous pattern of lack of focus, inattention, and or hyperactivity-impulsivity that impacts routine functioning.

2) Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders

Schizophrenia Spectrum and other psychotic disorders cover schizophrenia, other psychotic disorders, and schizotypal or personality disorder. Such disorders include one or more of the following issues:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Severely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior which includes catatonia
  • Negative symptoms

One of the common disorders under this category includes Schizophrenia.


This disorder consists of certain mental conditions. These include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, and negative symptoms like diminished emotional expression.

Such symptoms persist for a minimum of 6 months since their onset and interfere with various aspects of life. These may include work, relationships, social interaction, etc.

Also Read: What are the General Anxiety Disorder Symptoms?

Bipolar and associated disorders are different from depressive disorders. These disorders come between the Schizophrenia spectrum and depressive disorders. This is because bipolar and related disorders act as a connection between the two classes of disorders in respect of symptomatology, genetics, and family history.

The following are the various types of Bipolar and some of the common related disorders:

1. Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I disorder includes a definite period of unusually and continuously boosted, sweeping, or irritable mood. In addition to this, it also consists of unusually and continuously heightened goal-directed action or energy. This remains for a minimum of 1 week and is there most of the day, and mostly every day.

Further, during such a period of heightened energy, three or more of the below-mentioned symptoms are there to a great extent. These include:

  • Too much self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Lack of need for sleep
  • The burden to keep talking or being talkative more than normal
  • Jumping rapidly between thoughts or an individual experience of thoughts racing
  • Distraction
  • Psychomotor agitation or cause bipolar and rise in goal-directed behavior
  • Too much involvement in activities may result in painful outcomes.

2. Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II disorder consists of repetitive mood episodes of clinical nature. Such episodes involve one or more depressive episodes. These include insomnia, loss of energy, etc. Likewise, the individual must also experience a minimum of one hypomanic episode like a distraction, flight of ideas, etc.

Further, the major depressive episode must remain for a minimum of two weeks and the hypomanic episode must remain for a minimum of 4 days so as to fulfill the diagnostic criteria.

3. Cyclothymic Disorder

The important feature of cyclothymic disorder is a chronic, mood swing that consists of a number of periods of hypomanic symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms that are separate from each other. Further, there should be numerous periods with hypomanic symptoms that do not fulfill the criteria for a hypomanic episode and a number of periods with depressive symptoms that do not fulfill the criteria for a major depressive episode.

Likewise, one should meet other diagnostic criteria. These include symptoms interfering with critical aspects of normal functioning, etc.

4) Depressive Disorders

Depressive disorders include the existence of sad, irritated moods together with somatic and cognitive alterations. Such alterations critically impact the person’s potentiality to function. However, what differentiates one depressive disorder from the other are the parameters like timing, duration, or presumed causes.

Some of the common depressive disorders include Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder, depressive disorder due to other medical conditions, other specified depressive disorders, and unspecified depressive disorder.

a) Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

This disorder is found in children who experience continuous irritability and recurrent incidences of extreme behavioral dyscontrol. Children up to 12 years face this disorder. Further, children showcasing such symptoms usually suffer from unipolar or anxiety disorders instead of bipolar disorders as such children grow into adolescents and adults.

b) Major Depressive Disorder

MDD is marked by distinct incidences of a minimum of two weeks. However, the majority of such incidences last for way longer. These incidences include precise alterations in cognition, affect neurovegetative functions, and inter episode remissions. The medical professionals give importance to the delineation of usual grief and sadness from a major depressive incident. Bereavement can cause great suffering. However, it usually does not instigate an incidence of MDD.

c) Persistent Depressive Disorder

This is a more chronic type of depression, also called Dysthymia. It can be detected when the mood swings continue for a minimum of two years in adults or 1 year in children.

5) Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders consist of disorders that have common characteristics of too much fear, anxiety, and associated behavioral disruptions. Likewise, panic attacks are a common feature among anxiety disorders as this is a specific type of fear response.

In addition to this, anxiety disorders are different from other types of events or objects that trigger fear, anxiety, or avoiding behavioral patterns. No doubt anxiety disorders are highly comorbid with one another, yet they can be distinguished from each other. This is done by closely evaluating the types of circumstances that one is scared of or tends to avoid and the associated thoughts or beliefs.

Some of the common anxiety disorders include:

  1. a) Social Anxiety disorder
  2. b) Panic Attack
  3. c) Phobias
  4. d) Generalized Anxiety Disorder

One of the common disorders under this category is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is marked by the existence of compulsions and obsessions. Obsessions are nothing but the repetitive and continuous thoughts, images, or yearnings that one experiences as unwanted and intruding. However, compulsions on the other hand are recurrent behaviors or mental actions that a person feels motivated to undertake in response to an obsession or as per the rules that must be implemented at all costs.

Some of the other disorders that come under this category are characterized by the same compulsions and repetitive behaviors, although with some differences here and there.

Some of the obsessive-compulsive and associated disorders consist of:

  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • body dysmorphic disorder
  • hair-pulling disorder (also called trichotillomania)
  • skin-picking or excoriation disorder
  • substance/medication-induced obsessive-compulsive and related disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive and related disorder due to another medical condition
  • and other specified obsessive-compulsive and related disorders and unspecified obsessive-compulsive and related disorder

These disorders consist of disorders in which one of the clearly specified diagnostic criteria includes exposure to a traumatic or stressful situation or event.

The psychological stress that one goes through after experiencing a traumatic event varies from case to case. Accordingly, symptoms of such disorders are typically understood with symptoms of anxiety or fear. But, it is clear that numerous persons who experience traumatic events also showcase specific observable characteristics.

These characteristics are not fear or anxiety-based symptoms but aggressive and externalizing anger symptoms, dysphoric and anhedonic symptoms, or dissociative symptoms.

Some of the common trauma and stressor-related disorders include:

  • posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • reactive attachment disorder
  • disinhibited social engagement disorder
  • acute stress disorder
  • adjustment disorders

8) Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative disorders are marked by the disturbances of or a discontinuity in the usual coherence of memory, identity consciousness, perception, emotion, motor control, body representation, and behavior.

The symptoms of such disorders have the capacity to cause a disturbance in every aspect of psychological functioning.

These symptoms include:

  1. a) uninvited interference into one’s awareness and behavior together with a discontinuity is a subjective experience
  2. b) one’s incapacity to acquire details or to regulate mental functioning that is typically easy to access or regulate.

The common dissociative disorders include:

  1. a) Dissociative identity disorder
  2. b) Dissociative amnesia
  3. c) Depersonalization/derealization disorder
  4. d) Other specified dissociative disorder
  5. e) Unspecified dissociative disorder

These disorders make for a new category in the DSM-5, called somatic and related disorders. One of the common characteristics of these disorders is the precedence of the somatic symptoms related to impairment and excessive distress. Persons experiencing such preeminent somatic symptoms are subjected to primary care and other medical settings and rarely subjected to psychiatric and other medical settings.

One of the major disorders in this category is somatic symptom disorder. For the diagnosis of this disorder, the focus is laid on the positive signs and symptoms. These include distressing somatic symptoms and unusual feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in response to such symptoms.

Further, such symptoms could be specific like localized pain or non-specific fatigue. These symptoms at times may result in usual body sensations or uneasiness that does not indicate severe disease.

In addition to this, such individuals worry extremely about the illness. Such individuals typically think of the worst-case scenario of their health.

The disorders under this category include:

  1. a) somatic symptom disorder
  2. b) Illness anxiety disorder
  3. c) conversion disorder
  4. d) psychological factors affecting other medical conditions
  5. e) factitious disorder
  6. f) other specified somatic symptom and related disorder
  7. g) unspecified somatic symptom and related disorder

10) Feeding and Eating Disorders

Feeding and eating disorders are marked by a continuous disruption in eating or eating behaviors. Such disturbances lead to changes in consumption or absorption of food. This is what causes impairment in psychosocial functioning or physical health.

Further, individuals who experience these disorders tend to showcase eating-related symptoms. These symptoms are identical to those that are usually advocated by people suffering from substance use disorders like cravings and behavioral patterns of compulsive consumption.

The feeding and eating disorders include:

  • Pica
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Rumination disorder
  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder
  • Binge-eating disorder

11) Elimination Disorders

Elimination disorders include the undesirable expulsion of feces or urine and are typically noticed in childhood or adolescence. The host of disorders that come under this category include the following:

  • Enuresis – the repetitive draining of urine into undesirable places
  • Encopresis – the repeated passing of feces into undesirable places

These also include further subtypes that distinguish nocturnal from during waking hours draining in case of enuresis. These subtypes also identify the presence or absence of constipation and overflow incontinence in case of encopresis.

12) Sleep-Wake Disorders

This category of disorders includes 10 disorders or groups of disorders. Individuals experiencing these disorders commonly face dissatisfaction in respect of quality, time, and the amount of sleep.

In addition to this, stress during the day and impairment in functioning are the main characteristics of all the disorders that come under this category.

Also, such disorders go hand in hand with anxiety, depression, and cognitive alterations that must be dealt with while planning treatment. Further, continuous disturbance in sleep is the confirmed risk factor for substance use disorders and the maturing of mental illnesses that follow.

The disorders covered under sleep-wake disorders include:

  • Insomnia disorder
  • Narcolepsy
  • Hypersomnolence disorder
  • Breathing-related sleep disorders
  • Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders
  • Non-rapid eye movement (NREM)sleep arousal disorders
  • Nightmare disorder
  • Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Substance/medication-induced sleep disorder

13) Sexual Dysfunctions

Sexual dysfunctions are a diverse collection of disorders. These disorders are usually marked by a clinically important disruption in an individual’s ability to respond sexually or to feel sexual pleasure.

In addition to this, one may have a host of sexual dysfunction disorders simultaneously. In such circumstances, all of the sexual dysfunctions experienced must be identified.

Further, medical professionals use clinical judgment to identify if the sexual issues faced are the outcome of insufficient sexual stimulation. Also, there are various subtypes of these sexual disorders. These are used to determine the initiation of such sexual difficulties. In many cases, the time at which such sexual issues initiate determines various symptoms and interventions.

For instance, lifelong issues refer to sexual issues that have been there from the time one had sexual experience for the first time. Similarly, acquired issues refer to the sexual disorders that take place after a period of comparatively normal sexual function.

Further, Generalized issues are the sexual problems that are not restricted to specific types of stimulation, partners, or circumstances. Likewise, situational issues refer to the sexual problems that only take place with specific types of partners, stimulations, or situations.

The sexual dysfunctions include:

  • Delayed ejaculation
  • Female orgasmic disorder
  • Erectile disorder
  • Female sexual interest/arousal disorder
  • Genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder
  • Premature or early ejaculation
  • Male hypoactive sexual desire disorder
  • substance/medication-induced sexual dysfunction
  • Other specified sexual dysfunction
  • Unspecified sexual dysfunction

14) Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria relates to stress that may come along with the incongruence between the gender one experiences or indicates and the gender that is assigned to the individual.

Now, it is not necessary that every individual experiencing such incongruence may face distress. However, many individuals experience stress in situations where the desired physical interventions through surgery or hormones are not present.

15) Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders

This category of disorders consists of conditions that include issues in exercising self-control with respect to behaviors and emotions.

These disorders go against the rights of others like destroying property, going aggressive, etc. Such violations make the individual come in a serious conflict with the order of society and figures of authority. The causes of such issues in exercising self-control of behaviors and emotions vary to a great extent across the disorders that are covered under this category of disorders.

The disruptive, impulse-control, conduct disorders include:

  • Intermittent explosive disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Kleptomania
  • Pyromania
  • Other specified and unspecified disruptive, impulse-control, conduct disorders

Substance-related disorders include a host of different classes of drugs that are consumed in excess quantity. This results in stimulation of the brain reward system, which leads to reinforcing of behaviors and generation of memories.

The excessive consumption of these drugs leads to intense stimulation of the reward system that one tends to avoid normal activities.

Therefore, in place of triggering such a reward system via adaptive behaviors, these drugs directly stimulate the reward system. This results in feelings of pleasure, typically called ‘high’ which is temporary in nature.

In addition to this, individuals with poor self-control are highly vulnerable to substance use disorders. This indicates that the roots of these disorders become pretty much evident way before these disorders actually come to the forefront.

There are 10 different classes of drugs that are covered under these disorders. These include:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Hallucinogens
  • Inhalants
  • Sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics
  • Opioids
  • Stimulants
  • Tobacco
  • Other substances

17) Neurocognitive Disorders

The neurocognitive disorders (NCDs) initiate with delirium, succeeded by the syndromes of major NCD, mild NCD, and their symptomatic subtypes. The major and mild NCD are:

  • NCD as a result of Alzheimer’s disease
  • vascular NCD
  • NCD as a result of Lewy bodies
  • frontotemporal NCD
  • NCD as a result of Parkinson’s disease,
  • substance or medication-induced NCD
  • traumatic brain injury NCD
  • NCD as a result of HIV infection
  • Huntington’s disease NCD
  • NCD as a result of other medical conditions
  • prion disease NCD
  • NCD as a result of multiple symptoms
  • unspecified NCD

These are the category of disorders in which individuals experience a major deficiency in cognitive function. In addition to this, such deficiencies are gained and not developmental in nature. That is why these are called organic mental disorder types.

No doubt deficits in cognitive functioning are one of the characteristics present in other mental disorders as well. However, cognitive dysfunction is one of the main characteristics of NCDs.

In other words, NCDs consist of cognitive dysfunction that is obtained and not there since birth or at the early stages of life. Therefore, these constitute a deterioration from an already received level of functioning.

18) Personality Disorders

A personality disorder or a mental disorder personality type is a lasting pattern of inner experience as well as behavior that drifts noticeably from one’s cultural expectations. In addition to this, such a disorder begins during adolescence or early adulthood is steady over time, and results in impairment or distress.

Further, the mental disorder personality types are categorized into 3 clusters based on their similarities. Accordingly, Cluster A consists of paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders. People who experience these disorders typically look odd or abnormal.

Similarly, Cluster B consists of borderline, antisocial, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. These people usually appear dramatic, erratic, and emotional.

Finally, Cluster C consists of dependent, avoidant, erratic, or emotional disorders. People with these disorders typically appear anxious or fearful

19) Paraphilic Disorders

The word paraphilia means intense and continuous sexual interest excluding the sexual interest in genital stimulation or preparatory caressing with the consenting partners.

Certain paraphilias mainly relate to a person’s erotic activities. For instance, continuous interest in whipping, spanking, binding, cutting, or strangulating another person. While others are associated with the person’s erotic targets. For instance, excessive sexual interest in children, amputees, corpses, or non-human animals like dogs, or inanimate objects.

Thus, a paraphilic disorder is the one that is presently giving rise to the person’s impairment. Similarly, it also includes a paraphilia whose satisfaction has led to personal harm or risk of harm to other individuals.

The Paraphilic disorders include:

  • Voyeuristic disorder – that is seeing others secretly in private activities
  • Exhibitionistic disorder – showing of the genitals
  • Frotteuristic disorder – touching or rubbing against a non-consenting person
  • Sexual masochism – experiencing bondage, humiliation, and suffering
  • Sexual sadism disorder – imposing humiliation, bondage, and suffering
  • Pedophilic disorder – sexual interest in children
  • Fetishistic disorder – making use of non-living objects or focusing too much on nongenital body parts
  • Transvestic disorder – engaging in sexually stimulating cross-dressing.

20) Other Mental Disorders

This category includes disorders in which individuals show symptoms that are characteristic of a mental disorder. Further, these result in critical distress in occupational, social, or other aspects of human functioning. But, such disorders do not completely meet the criteria for any mental disorder mentioned in DSM-5.

These include:

  • Other specified mental disorders due to another mental condition
  • Unspecified mental disorder due to another medical condition
  • Other specified mental disorder
  • Unspecified mental disorder

What are Organic Mental Disorder Types?

The organic mental disorder is a term that was used earlier to report brain dysfunction excluding psychiatric disorders. Today, as per DSM-5, such disorders are covered under neurocognitive disorders as mentioned above. Such disorders result in deterioration in brain functioning due to ailments that are not psychiatric by nature.

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