5 Common Mental Health Disorders: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

Common Mental Health Disorders

Mental health has historically been put on the backburner and more focus has been put on physical health. However, more and more people are coming to realize just how important mental health is— and how both mental and physical health are related.

Mental health disorders are actually more common than people may think, and they range in severity from being manageable with lifestyle changes to needing medication and/or psychotherapy. Here are five categories of common mental health disorders.

#1: Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are characterized by intense feelings of worry and distress that don’t go away. This type of worry is so severe that it interferes with daily life. Some of the most common types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive worry about everyday issues that interfere with daily life.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by repeated urges (obsessions) that cause anxiety and behavior (compulsions) to try and relieve this anxiety.
  • Panic Disorder is characterized by frequent panic attacks.
  • Phobias are characterized by the intense fear of something that poses little or no threat.

The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown, but family history and stress play a huge role in the development of anxiety. Treatment options include anti-anxiety medications and/or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) treatment.

#2: Depressive Disorders

Depressive disorders are characterized by feelings of sadness, numbness, and/or emptiness that do not go away and impact daily life. Depression can manifest in and be found in a variety of ways/disorders, such as:

  • Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder marked by intense mood swings: extreme energy (mania) and extreme sadness (depression).
  • Postpartum Depression is marked by depressive feelings after giving birth.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is marked by depressive feelings during certain times of the year, specifically in the winter months when there’s less sun.

Everyone can feel extremely sad at times, especially after a saddening event. However, these feelings don’t last too long, and don’t impact daily functioning for too long. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that needs to be treated with antidepressants and psychotherapy.

#3: Eating Disorders

Eating disorders may seem like a lifestyle choice, but it’s an actual mental disorder that causes disordered eating patterns and habits. The three most common eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia nervosa is extreme restriction of the type or amount of food eaten, or even avoiding food altogether.
  • Binge Eating Disorder is a disorder in which a person overeats, even after they’re already full.
  • Bulimia nervosa is a combination of binge eating (and later purging) and may also be combined with extreme fasting and/or exercising.

Any of these eating disorders can be caused by a variety of complex factors, with genetic, psychological and social factors playing a major role. Antidepressants may help treat some eating disorders, but more effective treatment includes psychotherapy and nutrition counseling to help develop a healthier relationship with food.

#4: Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are marked by long-term, unhealthy behavior and thought patterns. Those suffering from a personality disorder tend to have trouble forming healthy relationships with others. Common personality disorders include:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder 
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder 
  • Paranoia and Delusional Personality Disorder 

It’s thought that certain childhood experiences can cause a personality disorder to develop, and genetics may also play a role. Treatments include psychotherapy and medication.

#5: Psychotic Disorders

Psychotic disorders are similar to personality disorders in which those suffering have unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. The key difference is that those with psychotic disorders tend to lose touch with reality. Examples of psychotic disorders include:

  • Postpartum Psychosis (more extreme than postpartum depression; often marked by hallucinations)
  • Schizophrenia 

Psychotic disorders are much more serious mental illnesses, and they require more intense treatments, such as brain stimulation therapy. Other treatments include medication and psychotherapy.

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is another mental health condition that doesn’t fit neatly into any of these categories listed above. Like the name suggests, it is caused by a traumatic event such as war, abuse, or even an accident that caused a traumatic brain injury (TBI). While war isn’t always preventable, abuse and accidents can be prevented. Visit for more information.

Mental health disorders are very serious, but you don’t have to have one in order to benefit from therapy— specifically talk therapy. In fact, talk therapy can be helpful during stressful times, and can help you to better manage a mental health disorder if you were to develop one. It may not prevent a mental illness, but it can definitely make it easier to manage.

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