Types of Mental Health Disorders - 2023

Learn more about the different types of mental health disorders and how to get appropriate care here.

What Are Mental Health Disorders?

Mental health disorders are complex, long-lasting conditions that can significantly impact a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Understanding the nuances of these conditions is crucial for treating them with the care and medical attention they need.


Differentiating Mental Health Disorders From Temporary Emotional Challenges

Not all emotional struggles are mental health conditions. Everyone has a rough day or a mood swing, but mental health disorders often last longer and have a deeper impact on daily life.

Signs of Mental Health Disorders

These disorders are more than just momentary feelings of sadness or stress. They are persistent and often need a medical diagnosis and treatment.

Some ways to differentiate mental health disorders include:

  • Duration: These conditions often last for an extended period, often six months or more
  • Severity: Symptoms are not minor; they disrupt daily life
  • Diagnosis: Often, a healthcare professional formally identifies these conditions

Signs of Temporary Emotional Challenges

For context, let’s consider the hallmarks of temporary emotional challenges. While these difficulties can be uncomfortable, they are often:

  • Short-lived: They last for a limited time, like a few days or weeks
  • Less Severe: While uncomfortable, they don’t severely disrupt daily life
  • Self-Resolvable: Often, these challenges can be managed or may even be resolved on their own without medical intervention

Common Mental Health Disorders

About one in two people worldwide will develop a mental health disorder during their life. These conditions sometimes overlap, but each disorder is unique in terms of symptoms and treatment.

Let’s look at specific common disorders. These include depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia:1


Depression is more than just everyday mood swings. When going through a depressive period, people frequently experience:

  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • A lack of enjoyment in daily activities
These feelings persist for the majority of the day and continue nearly every day for a minimum of two weeks.2

Symptoms of Depression

Recognizing the symptoms of depression is the first step toward seeking help. These symptoms can manifest emotionally, physically, and behaviorally, affecting various aspects of daily life.

Some common symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sadness: A constant feeling of unhappiness or emptiness
  • Loss of interest: A significant decrease in interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed
  • Physical changes: Changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and energy levels

Treatment Options for Depression

Treatments for depression are diverse and often involve a combination of therapy and medication.

They include:

  • Medication: Antidepressants can help balance mood-altering chemicals in the brain
  • Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often effective in treating depression
  • Lifestyle changes: Exercise and diet can also play a role in managing symptoms

Anxiety Disorders

While occasional anxiety is normal, anxiety disorders involve intense, excessive worry that interferes with daily activities. This mental health disorder has various forms, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

It’s crucial to understand that the symptoms of anxiety disorders go beyond typical nervousness or stress. They are more intense, prolonged, and often disrupt daily functioning.

Symptoms often include:

  • Excessive worry: Almost constant worry about various situations or activities
  • Physical symptoms: Trembling, sweating, and rapid heartbeat are common
  • Avoidance: Going out of the way to avoid situations that trigger anxiety

Treatment Options for Anxiety

Effective treatments are available, often combining medication and therapy. They include:

  • Medication: Anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants are often prescribed
  • Therapy: Methods like CBT can teach coping skills
  • Self-care: Mindfulness and relaxation techniques can also help


Around 1.5 million U.S. adults are affected by schizophrenia, a serious mental health disorder that alters how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Although it’s often misunderstood and faces stigma, effective medical treatments exist to manage its symptoms.3

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Understanding the symptoms of schizophrenia can help with early diagnosis and effective treatment. These symptoms can be perplexing and unsettling, often needing medical intervention for proper management.

Symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Hallucinations: Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there
  • Delusions: False beliefs that aren’t based on reality
  • Disorganized thinking: Trouble focusing or connecting thoughts logically

Treatment Options for Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia often takes lifelong treatment involving medication and support. Some treatment options include:

  • Medication: Antipsychotic drugs are the primary treatment.
  • Therapy: Psychotherapy can help with the emotional and psychological aspects.
  • Support: Family and community support are important for long-term management.

How Are Mental Health Disorders Diagnosed?

When it comes to mental health disorders, understanding the diagnosis process is important. A diagnosis often sets the stage for effective treatment and management.

Let’s explore how these disorders get identified and the mental health professional’s role in the adolescent family therapy assessment process:

Initial Assessment

During the first meeting, the goal is to gather information. The patient talks about their symptoms, history, and concerns.

The therapist will:

  1. Conduct an interview
  2. Assess the person’s mental state
  3. Review medical history
  4. Observe behavior and emotions

Psychological Testing

Psychological tests may be used in some cases. These tests follow established standards to check mental states.

They can include:

  • Questionnaires about feelings and behaviors
  • Projective tests like the Rorschach inkblot test
  • Cognitive tests that measure thinking, learning, and memory

Role of Mental Health Professionals

Different mental health experts can be part of the diagnosis process. While their specialties may differ, the goal is always the same—to find the right diagnosis for effective treatment.

This can involve:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Licensed counselors
  • Therapists

Responsibilities in Diagnosis

Some of the many responsibilities of mental health professionals in terms of diagnoses include:

  • Gathering patient information
  • Collecting details from interviews, history, and tests
  • Making accurate diagnoses
  • Suggesting treatments

They use clear rules for diagnosis and create personalized treatment plans, which can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

Causes and Contributing Factors of Mental Health Disorders

Understanding what causes mental health disorders is crucial for effective diagnosis and treatment. These conditions often result from a combination of factors, including biological, environmental, and psychological elements.

Biological Factors

Genes and brain chemistry can influence the type and onset of mental health disorders. Some people have genetic predispositions to mental health conditions. Others may experience imbalances in brain neurotransmitters.

Imbalances in hormones like cortisol and adrenaline can also affect mood and conditions like anxiety.

Environmental Factors

A person’s living environment, including social, economic, and physical aspects, can impact mental health.

Other environmental factors that contribute to mental health disorders include:

  • Early trauma
  • Social pressures
  • Stressful life events

Psychological Factors

A person’s mental well-being is influenced by the mind itself. Some psychological factors that play a role in developing mental health disorders include:

  • The ability to cope with stress
  • A person’s self-esteem
  • Individual beliefs

Ineffective coping mechanisms or low self-esteem can contribute to conditions like depression.

Primary Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders

Recognizing the primary signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, including the importance of early intervention in children’s mental healthcare, is vital for early intervention and support. Whether people are trying to understand their own condition or are concerned about a loved one, identifying these signs can be the first step in seeking help.

Emotional Symptoms

Emotional changes are often a big indicator of mental disorders. These changes can manifest in various ways, such as:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Excessive fears or worries
  • Severe mood swings that disrupt relationships

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms are also a common aspect of many mental disorders. These symptoms can include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low energy levels
  • Sleep problems, including insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Significant weight loss or gain

Behavioral Symptoms

Behavioral symptoms serve as another red flag. These can include:

  • A sudden withdrawal from friends or enjoyable activities
  • A decline in performance at work or school
  • Risky behaviors, like substance abuse

These symptoms should never be ignored.

Impact of Mental Health Disorders on Daily Life

Mental disorders can have a far-reaching impact on a person’s daily life. They can affect not only the person’s emotional well-being but also their:

  • Relationships
  • Work performance
  • Quality of life

Impact on Relationships

One of the most noticeable effects of mental disorders is on relationships. The strain can lead to:

  • Misunderstandings
  • Decreased communication
  • Isolation

People may find it difficult to relate to others. As a result, both friendships and romantic relationships can suffer.

Impact on Work

In the work environment, mental health disorders can make even simple tasks seem overwhelming. Productivity may drop, and people might struggle to focus or meet deadlines. This creates a cycle where poor performance increases stress, worsening mental health symptoms.

Impact on Well-Being

Mental disorders significantly affect a person’s well-being. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle, including regular exercise and healthy eating, can become challenging. Neglecting self-care adds to the emotional and psychological burden, making recovery even more difficult.

Therapeutic Approaches for Mental Health Disorders

Dealing with mental health disorders often takes specialized treatment to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. This section will outline some evidence-based therapeutic approaches commonly used to treat these conditions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most widely researched and widely used forms of psychotherapy for treating mental disorders. It helps people change behaviors they avoid or that are unsafe while also correcting any mistaken beliefs. This, in turn, enhances their mental health and stress management skills.4

Medication Management

For certain conditions, medication can be an essential part of the treatment plan. Common medications include antidepressants for depression and antipsychotics for disorders like schizophrenia.

It’s essential to work closely with a healthcare provider to manage the dosage and monitor side effects.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

These therapies help people become aware of their thoughts, feelings, and actions in the present moment. Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness can help manage symptoms related to stress and anxiety.

Stigma Around Treatment for Mental Health Disorders

Despite the advances in our understanding and treatment of mental health disorders, societal stigma still hinders many from seeking the help they need.

Below, we will explain the types of stigma surrounding getting treatment for these conditions.

Stereotyping and Labeling

The media often depicts people with mental disorders as “crazy” or “unstable,” which can contribute to stereotyping. This portrayal can make people hesitant to seek treatment out of fear of being labeled or judged by their community.

Misunderstanding of Treatment

Another aspect of stigma involves a lack of understanding about mental health treatments themselves. People may hold outdated beliefs that treatments like psychotherapy are only for “serious” cases, discouraging them from seeking help.

Fear of Discrimination

People might fear that their diagnosis could lead to discrimination in various aspects of life, such as employment or social opportunities. This fear can make people reluctant to disclose their condition or seek treatment.

mental health disorders

How Ethos Wellness Addresses Stigma and Treatment for Mental Health Disorders

Stigma can act as a major roadblock for individuals seeking help for mental disorders.

At Ethos Wellness, we’re dedicated to breaking down these barriers by fostering a compassionate, judgment-free environment. We aim to guide you through your mental health journey and provide a clear path forward.

We're More Than a Clinic

Navigating life’s challenges is no small feat, especially when it comes to mental health. Ethos Wellness offers treatment plans aimed at your unique life experiences and challenges. Whether you’re dealing with stress, depression, or dual diagnosis, our team is prepared to guide you every step of the way.

Our Approach

Ethos Wellness employs a psychodynamically-informed integrative care model. We treat the whole person, not just the disorder.

This includes looking at the following aspects of each client’s life:

  • Biological
  • Psychological
  • Social
  • Cultural
  • Spiritual

We work closely with you to develop meaningful and realistic goals, guiding you through three phases of care: Restoration, Transformation, and Integration.

A Safe Place to Restart Your Wellness Journey

We act as your guide, offering both technical and mental health-specific path options. Our spaces are designed with specific intentions, providing a sanctuary where you can focus solely on your well-being.

We’ve Got Your Back

Collaboration between Ethos Wellness and our clients is key. Together, we can explore how you got to where you are now and how to move forward. We’re committed to guiding you through life’s challenges with compassion, respect, and expertise.

Connect With Us

Taking the first step in treating mental health disorders can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. Ethos Wellness is here to guide you. Reach out to us, and let’s begin your path forward, together.

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Questions About Treatment?

Reach out to our Ethos Wellness team today for direction and guidance in your recovery journey. We’re here to provide you with the whole-person, personalized support you need for the sustainable wellness you deserve.