List of Mental Disorders
A mental illness can be defined as a health condition that changes a person’s thinking, feelings, or behavior (or all three) and that causes the person distress and difficulty in functioning.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Always seek a medical professional’s guidance in further understanding a diagnosis.
This list is compiled from a number of sources including National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) www.nimh.nih.gov, National Alliance on Mental Illnesses (NAMI) www.nami.org, Wikipedia search www.wikipedia.org, and PubMedHealth www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth
Many sources utilize the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It is published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders. This manual is redefined every so many years as the industry changes.
It is a personal decision to agree with a diagnosis or classification. Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. Research is power.
This list entails a handful of mental disorders, medical terms, and the definitions are summarized. It is not all-inclusive; therefore seek further information on any topic that interests you. Any single listing can become redefined or obsolete as the industry of Psychology evolves.
Experience fear, avoidance, and/or panic, etc. It may also develop behaviors resulting from the anxiety.
– Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Constantly worried about everyday routine life events and activities. Anticipating the worst with little reason to expect it. Physical symptoms include fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headache, and/or nausea. It is chronic anxiety.
– Panic Disorder (Panic Attacks)
Episodes of intense fear that strike without warning. Symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations/racing heart, labored breathing/shortness of breath, trembling, faintness, dizziness, sweating, nausea, disorientation, numbness, and/or fear of dying.
– Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Symptoms that occur after experiencing a traumatic event causing intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Symptoms are nightmares, flashbacks, numbing sensations, depression, being easily startled, irritable, etc.
– Social Phobia
Overwhelming fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation in social situations that leads to avoidance.
– Specific Phobia
Extreme, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. The fear leads to unnecessary avoidance of objects or situations.
An intense feeling of being trapped in a situation, public place, along with the overwhelming fear of having a panic attack. May also avoid a place where a panic attack occurred in fear it will happen again in that scenario.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
– Predominantly Inattentive
– Predominantly Hyperactive/Compulsive
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Developmental disorders of brain function. Impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, unusual/severely limited activities and interest. It can cause social difficulties, communication problems, repetitive behavior, etc.
– Asperger Syndrome
– Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
– Rett Syndrome
– Pervasive Developmental Disorder – NOS
A form of aggressive behavior that intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. It can take the form of physical contact, words, or subtle actions. The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to cause the bullying.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
A severe, continued tiredness that is not relieved by rest and is not directly caused by other medical conditions. Four or more symptoms that last 6 months and longer: Impaired memory/concentration,
post-exertional malaise, unrefreshing sleep, muscle pain (myalgia), pain in multiple joints, headaches of a new kind, frequent or recurring sore throat, or tender lymph nodes.
A tendency to behave in excessive caretaking ways that negatively impact a person’s relationships and quality of life. Preoccupied with the needs of others while putting their own needs at a lower priority. It is characterized by these four patterns: denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, and/or control.
The scientific term for “the process of thought”.
– Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
A range of techniques that focus on the construction and re-construction of a person’s cognitions, emotions, and behaviors. A Therapist helps clients assess, recognize and deal with problematic and dysfunctional ways of thinking, behaving, and emotions.
The presence of one or more disorders or diseases in addition to a primary disorder or disease. Including the effect of these additional disorders or diseases.
Dissociation from or interruption of a person’s fundamental aspects of waking consciousness such as identity, history, etc.
– Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)
More than one distinct identity or personality state that surfaces in a person on a recurring basis resulting in a difference in memory which vary with the individual’s “alters” (other personalities).
– Dissociative Amnesia
Blocking out critical personal information of a traumatic or stressful nature that does not result from a physical medical trauma.
– Depersonalization Disorder
Feeling of detachment or distance from one’s own experience, body, or self.
– Dissociative Fugue
Suddenly and unexpectedly takes physical leave of his or her surroundings and sets off on a journey of some kind that can last for hours, days, or months. The person is unaware or confused about their identity.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
A psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anesthetized patients for therapeutic effect. It is most often recommended for severe depression in patients that have not responded to all other forms of treatment.
Abusive levels of food consumption (low or high).
– Anorexia Nervosa
Refusal to maintain minimal body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, distorted body image, denial of the seriousness of the illness. Restrict food intake, excessive exercise, or binge eating/purging (self induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas).
– Bulimia Nervosa
Pattern of binge-eating and compensatory behaviors to control one’s weight. Binge eating (rapid consumption of a large amount of food in a short period of time) that one cannot stop once begun and difficulty ending even when far past being full. Resulting in compensatory behavior to control one’s weight by self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, fasting, or excessive exercise.
– Binge Eating Disorder
Eating that is characterized by rapid consumption of a large amount of food by social comparison and experiencing a sense of the eating being out of control. Feeling distressed, disgusted, and guilty about overeating. May also eat large amounts of food when not hungry.
A medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain. A heightened and painful response to pressure is experienced. Pain is felt from acts that normally do not cause pain. Additional symptoms may include debilitating fatigue, joint stiffness, numbness/tingling, and cognitive dysfunctions. It is frequently co-morbid with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
A debilitating condition marked by moderate to severe headaches lasting 4-72 hours. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and sensitivity to sound. The headache is often but not always pulsating in nature. Research shows it is a disorder related to the neurotransmitter Serotonin.
A disturbance in a person’s mood/behavior.
– Signs & Symptoms of Depression
Loss of interest in activities that were once interesting or enjoyable. Decreased activity and energy. Persistently sad, anxious, empty mood, feeling of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness. Social withdrawal. Unusual fatigue. Changes in sleep patterns. Trouble concentrating, remembering, making decisions. Unusual restlessness, and irritability. Change in appetite.
– Psychotic Depression
A major depressive episode with psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations.
– Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Major/Clinical Depression interferes with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, enjoy pleasure, etc. Positive changes will not bring a change in mood. Disabling episode of Depression. Persistent and can significantly interfere with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, activity, and physical health. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Physical symptoms can occur that do no respond to usual treatment such as headaches, digestive disorders, chronic pain
Long term (2 years) chronic depression that does not disable. Prevents a person from feeling happy.
– Atypical Depression
Experiences mood reactivity, extreme sensitivity, and/or fatigue. Improvement in mood if something positive happens.
– Manic-Depressive Disorder (Bipolar)
Recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last days to months. Causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning.
- Bipolar I involves a full fledged Mania and periods of Major Depression
- Bipolar II alternates between Major Depression and a less severe form of mania called Hypomania.
- Cyclothymia is Hypomania and a Mild Depression.
- Signs and Symptoms of Mania
Elated, happy mood or irritable, angry, unpleasant mood.
Increased physical/mental activity. Racing thought and flight of ideas. Increased talking, rapid speech. Ambitious, grandiose plans. Risk taking. Impulsive activity such as spending sprees, sexual indiscretion, and alcohol abuse. Decreased sleep without experiencing fatigue.
– Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Symptoms occur after ovulation in the menstrual cycle and end shortly after menstruation begins (a predictable, cyclic pattern – approx. 2 week range). Severe irritability, anxiety, anger, depression, substantial disruption in personal relationships, sensitivity to rejection/criticism, mood swings, and/or crying, etc. The symptoms experienced are separate from the normal discomfort associated with menstruation.
– Postpartum Depression (PPD) or Postnatal Depression
Experienced after childbirth. Sadness, fatigue, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability occur uncontrollably.
– Seasonal Depression (SAD)
Periods of Depression in result to a season of change during the year. Characterized by recurrent episodes of Depression usually in late fall and winter, and periods of normal/high mood the rest of the year. Light therapy is a course of action in treating SAD.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Repeated, unwanted thoughts and compulsive behavior that seems impossible to stop or control. Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts or unwanted ideas/impulses that repeat in a person’s mind. Compulsions are repetitive rituals that must be performed with thoughts that something bad will happen otherwise. There are many classifications considered to be in the spectrum of OCD.
– Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Person is excessively concerned and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her body image resulting in obsessive thoughts, social isolation, etc.
– Compulsive Hoarding
Excessive acquisition of possessions in one’s home. Failure to use or discard items, even if they are worthless, hazardous, or unsanitary. It can impair mobility and interfere with basic activities such as cooking, cleaning, hygiene, sanitation and sleeping.
– Impulse Control Disorder
Seeking a small, short gain at the expense of a large, longer-term loss. Failure to resist the behavioral consequence, act on impulse.
- Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB)
Compulsively damaging one’s own physcial appearance or causing physical injury.
- Dermatillomania (Compulsive or Chronic Skin Picking) is the repeated urge to pick at one’s own skin. It is found to be stress relieving and gratifying to the skin picker, but also painful as it would be to any person.
- Onychophagia is compulsive nail biting.
- Trichotillomania is the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair leading to noticeable hair loss.
The abnormal appetite for food ingredients or substances that is non-nutritive, such as flour, hair, metal, chalk, soap, batteries, paper, etc.
Behavioral patterns associated with severe disturbances in the tendencies of an individual involving several areas of the personality, causing personal and social disruption.
– Antisocial Personality Disorder
Pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others. Also referred to as Psychopath or Sociopath. Characteristics include apparent lack of remorse or empathy for others, persistent lying or stealing, tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others, inability to tolerate boredom, poor or abusive relationships, poor behavioral controls such as expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatient, aggression, threats, etc. Also known for superficial charm, shallowed emotions, a distorted sense of self, and a constant search for new sensations.
- “An abnormal lack of empathy combined with strongly amoral conduct but masked by an ability to appear outwardly normal. A lack of guilt or remorse for any harm they may have caused others, instead rationalizing the behavior, blaming someone else, or denying it outright.”
– Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
Pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior that is characterized by intense emotions and/or self-harming acts. Alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation in relationships, affective mood instability, chronic feelings of emptiness, etc.
– Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)
Characterized by Paranoia (a thought process heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion) and a pervasive, long standing suspiciousness and generalized mistrust of others. This condition causes hypersensitivity, to be easily slighted, and to habitually relate to the world by vigilant scanning of the environment for clues or suggestions to validate their prejudicial ideas or biases.
– Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD)
Characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, a tendency towards a solitary lifestyle, secretiveness, emotional coldness and sometimes (sexual) apathy, with a simultaneous internal fantasy world. It is not the same as schizophrenia, although they share some similar characteristics such as detachment and blunted effect.
Medical specialty devoted to the study and treatment of mental disorders.
– Psychiatrist is a mental health professional (medical Doctor) who may prescribe psychiatric medication.
Integration of science, theory, and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development. Below are listed some of the titles held by those who study a form of Psychology:
– Psychologist holds a Doctorate Degree in Psychology
– Therapist / Clinical Social Worker holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work or equivalent.
– Licensed Counselor holds a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Counseling or related
– Art Therapist holds a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy or related.
A loss of contact with reality. When suffering from psychosis, a person is described as Psychotic. Hallucinations, delusions and impaired insight may occur as well as thought disorder. There are many causes of Psychosis including brain tumors, drug abuse, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, sleep deprivation, abrupt medication withdrawal, etc.
Schizophrenia and an Affective/Mood Disorder (such as Manic-Depressive) that alternate or occur together.
Causes delusions, hallucinations, disorganized behavior, speech, or thinking. It can progress into lack of emotional reactivity or decrease in feelings of pleasure.
– Feeling emotionally empty is also called Anhedonia.
– Delusions are based on a belief that is false, despite evidence to the contrary. They can be related to suspicions or paranoid thoughts. For example, Delusions cause individuals to believe that people are reading their thoughts or plotting against them, that others are secretly monitoring and threatening them, or that they control other people’s minds.
– Hallucinations are abnormal perceptions in the senses. A person may hear, see, feel, taste and touch something while awake that isn’t real because it is created it in the mind.
Self Harm (Self Injury)
An intentional, direct act of injuring the body tissue without suicidal intent. It is also known as self-mutilation. Acts include but are not limited to skin cutting, burning, scratching, banging/hitting body parts, interfering with wound healing, hair pulling, etc.
Substance Abuse (Drug Abuse)
The act of taking a psychoactive drug or performance enhancing drug for non-therapeutic, or non-medical effect. Drugs associated to abuse include alcoholic, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methaqualone, and opoids. It also includes abusing a substance that is not considered dependent.
When a person persists the use of alcohol or other drugs despite the negative consequences related to the use. The compulsive/repetitive use can result in tolerance and withdrawal symptoms occur when the use is reduced or stopped.
A thought about suicide without the suicidal act itself, which may even involve planning.
Incomprehensible language (speech or writing) that is presumed to reflect thinking.
– Schizophasia (Word Salad)
Confused usage of words with no apparent meaning or relationship, and often repetitious.
A neurologic syndrome featuring multiple tics that are sudden, rapid, recurrent, non-rhythmic, and stereotypical. The tics are purposeless movements or vocalizations.
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