mental health

Uncover Mental Illness: Symptoms & Treatment of the Most Common Disorders

Introduction: Mental Health & Common Disorders

Mental health is an important aspect of overall well-being. It includes thoughts, feelings and behaviours that make up our lifestyle. Mental health affects how we think, feel and act in our lives and is shaped by our environment, lifestyle, relationships and genetic predispositions.

Unfortunately, many people are suffering from common mental health disorders. These disorders can range from anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, and dementia also fall into this category.

It is important to be aware of common mental health disorders and to seek treatment if necessary. This guide will provide an overview of mental health, definitions of mental health, and information on common disorders and their symptoms.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health can be defined as our emotional and psychological wellbeing. It includes our overall sense of wellbeing, our ability to manage stress and cope with adversity. Our mental health influences how we think, feel, act, and handle our emotions, and our day-to-day decisions and relationships.

Having good mental health enables us to lead happy, balanced, and fulfilling lives. Mental health issues can affect everyone at any age, so it is important to understand the common signs and symptoms of mental health disorders.

Mental health disorders are serious medical conditions that require treatment from a qualified doctor or mental health provider. When left untreated, these disorders can have serious impacts on a person’s ability to function in their day-to-day life.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are a type of mental health disorder. These are defined as persistent, excessive, and irrational worries or fears that lead to physical and mental symptoms. Anxiety can be caused by certain events or situations but it can also occur without any particular trigger.

Common Anxiety Disorders

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): This is characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry about everyday activities and situations.
  • Panic disorder: This involves experiencing unexpected panic attacks that cause intense fear.
  • Social anxiety disorder: This occurs when someone has a fear of social situations.
  • Phobia-related disorders: These involve intense fear of a specific object or situation.
  • Separation anxiety disorder: This occurs when someone has an excessive fear of being separated from home or a loved one.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

The physical symptoms of anxiety disorders include increased heart rate, shortness of breath, trembling, and sweating. Other physical symptoms can include muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Mental symptoms of anxiety can include feeling tense, worrying, and feeling overwhelmed.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are a group of mental illnesses that can affect how someone feels, thinks, and behaves. They are also known as “affective disorders” because they involve disturbances to emotional well-being. Common mood disorders include Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Dysthymia, Bipolar Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a type of mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low self-worth. People with MDD can also have difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, loss of energy, and difficulty concentrating. Other common symptoms include persistent guilt, thoughts of death or suicide, irritability, and restlessness.


Dysthymia is a milder form of MDD that can last two years or more. It is characterized by persistent feelings of depression, irritability, low energy, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty making decisions. People with Dysthymia may also experience problems with relationships, work, and school.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder characterized by cycles of manic episodes and depressive episodes. Manic episodes involve periods of elevated mood, increased energy, and impulsivity. Depressive episodes involve feelings of sadness, low energy, and poor concentration. People with bipolar disorder may also experience anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty functioning in everyday life.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is a milder form of bipolar disorder characterized by cycling mood swings. These mood swings, however, are much less severe than those experienced by people with bipolar disorder. Symptoms of cyclothymic disorder include depression, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. People with cyclothymic disorder may also experience changes in appetite, sleep problems, and decreased energy.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of mood disorder that is triggered by the changing of seasons. People with SAD experience depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, low energy, and changes in appetite. It is most common during the colder months of the year but can also be seen in the summer months due to the increased hours of daylight.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop in response to a traumatic event. It can affect people of any age and can sometimes last for many years. Common signs and symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, intense feelings of distress or fear, and avoidance of reminders of the trauma.

The types of events that can cause PTSD vary greatly and include things such as car accidents, natural disasters, and violence. People who experience a traumatic event are at risk of developing PTSD if they feel powerless or overwhelmed by the event. It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences a trauma will develop PTSD.

If you are struggling with symptoms of PTSD, it is important to seek help. Treatment for PTSD typically involves a combination of therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can be helpful in managing PTSD. It is important to work with a mental health professional to determine the best treatment plan for you.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder and a type of mental health condition. It consists of recurrent, unwanted thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions) and/or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).

An obsession is an unwanted thought, image, or urge that repeatedly appears in the mind of someone suffering from OCD. Common obsessions include worrying about germs, fear of contamination, aggressive or horrific thoughts, and overthinking decisions. A compulsion is an action that someone feels they must perform as a result of the obsession. Common compulsions can include washing hands too often, counting objects, and checking (such as locking safety or ensure something has not been forgotten).

When someone experiences an obsession, they usually try to ignore it or get rid of it by performing a compulsion. This can become a ritual behavior which interrupts everyday life and takes up significant amounts of time. When obsessions become interfering with daily life, this can be a sign of OCD.

Common disorders associated with OCD include trichotillomania, which is the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair; hoarding, which is the inability to discard items even though there is no use for them; body dysmorphic disorder, which is a preoccupation with perceived flaws in physical appearance; and hypochondria, which is the persistent belief of having a serious illness despite the absence of any medical evidence.

The symptoms of OCD can vary in severity, but typically involve recurrent and frequent obsessions and/or compulsions that interfere with everyday life. Symptoms can include excessive rumination, performing tasks in a specific order, repeating words in the head, avoiding people or things in order to reduce anxiety, and relentless worrying about making mistakes.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are psychological conditions that involve the unhealthy relationship between a person and food. They are not just about the food however, but about how the person feels about themselves and their body. Eating disorders can manifest in different ways; from restricting food intake, to overeating, or even purging.

Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and other specified eating and feeding disorder (OSFED).

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a fear of gaining weight, extreme weight loss, and difficulty in maintaining a healthy body weight. People with anorexia nervosa may have distorted body image and low self-esteem. Symptoms of anorexia include extreme calorie restriction, excessive exercise, and self-induced vomiting. Some people may also abuse laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills to control their weight.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, fasting, and/or excessive exercise. This type of eating disorder can lead to severe medical complications such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and damage to the digestive system.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food in a relatively short period of time. People affected by binge eating disorder usually feel out of control during episodes which last for hours and can occur multiple times a week. People with this disorder typically eat faster than normal and continue to eat even when full. Common symptoms include feelings of guilt, shame, and depression.

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED)

Other specified feeding and eating disorder (OSFED) is an umbrella term used to describe eating disorders that do not meet the criteria for the more well-known eating disorders. Symptoms of OSFED can include bingeing and purging, restrictive eating, and other disordered eating behaviors.

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that affects millions of people. This disorder is characterized by difficulty concentrating, impulsiveness, and/or hyperactivity. People with this condition can experience difficulties in school, work, home life, and relationships.

Common symptoms of ADHD include: difficulty paying attention in class or at work, distractibility, trouble following instructions or completing tasks, restlessness, difficulty sitting still for long periods of time, difficulty controlling impulses and emotions, and difficulty waiting turn in conversations or activities.

Common disorders related to ADHD include learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and substance abuse. The diagnosis of ADHD is done by an experienced mental health professional who will use a variety of tools to assess a person’s symptoms. Treatments for ADHD include medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and educational interventions.


Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It is a complex condition that can have a significant impact on an individual’s life. Schizophrenia is characterized by delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real), disorganized thinking, mood swings, and difficulty functioning on a daily basis.

Common symptoms of schizophrenia include abnormal processing of emotions, altered perception of reality, difficulty concentrating, changes in speech patterns, and withdrawal from social interactions. People with schizophrenia may also experience feelings of depression, paranoia, or physical discomforts like stiffness or a lack of energy. Some people with schizophrenia may also experience suicidal thoughts. Treatment for schizophrenia usually includes combinations of medication and psychotherapy.

The cause of schizophrenia is unknown, but some theories suggest it could be related to genetics or environmental factors. There are many different types of schizophrenia, and each of them has its own unique set of symptoms. Common types of schizophrenia include paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, and residual.

Dementia: Definition, Common Disorders and Their Symptoms

Dementia is a general term used to describe a decrease in cognitive ability severe enough to interfere with the daily life of an individual. It is often associated with aging, but can also occur in young adults. Dementia can affect memory, communication, problem solving, movement, judgement and even personality.

Common disorders associated with dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. Each of these conditions has its own unique set of symptoms and progression.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and accounts for 60-80% of all cases. The primary feature of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, which may be accompanied by confusion, disorientation, and often personality changes. Other common symptoms include difficulty speaking and understanding words, difficulty completing everyday tasks, and a gradual decline in cognitive abilities.

Vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia, is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. Symptoms are similar to Alzheimer’s, including memory loss, language difficulties, and confusion. It usually occurs in abrupt episodes known as “mini strokes” and progresses more quickly than Alzheimer’s.

Lewy body dementia is characterized by progressive motor, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. Symptoms can include cognitive deficits such as memory loss, problems with attention, and difficulty reasoning. In addition, individuals may experience hallucinations or delusions, depression, and difficulty with movement and coordination.

Frontotemporal dementia is a rare disorder that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These areas of the brain control language, behavior, emotions, and decision-making. Symptoms can include a wide range of changes in behavior, language skills, and physical abilities. Individuals may experience problems with speech, decision-making, and changes in personality.

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that often leads to dementia. Symptoms can include slowness of movement, impaired balance, trembling, and speaking difficulties. Cognitive symptoms can also appear including memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and hallucinations.

Effective Treatments for Mental Health Disorders

It’s important to remember that mental health treatments are just as important as any other medical treatment and it is important to seek help if you or someone else has a mental health disorder. Treatment can take many forms, and it can depend on the type of mental health disorder from which a person is suffering.

The first step to getting the help you need is to speak to your doctor who can provide the proper diagnosis and refer you to a mental health professional. They will be able to create an individualised treatment plan based on the diagnosis, your specific needs, and goals.

Common treatments for common disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), counseling, psychotherapy, and in some cases, medications such as anti-depressants.

Other treatments such as talk-therapy, mindfulness, yoga and exercise, as well as support groups and relaxation techniques may also be beneficial for managing mental health disorders.

It is important to note that each person with a mental health disorder responds differently to treatments, so it is important to find the right one for you. It is also important to recognise that recovery takes time and patience.


Understanding mental health and the common disorders associated with it is important in order for us to gain insight into helping those suffering from such illnesses. We have discussed the definitions of mental health, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, and dementia, along with each having their own set of symptoms and treatments. These disorders can be hard to navigate alone but with the right help, those affected can get the assistance they need and a better understanding of themselves.

No matter what type of mental health disorder a person has, understanding the basics will help them on their journey to get the help they need. It is important to remind ourselves that no two people are the same and, even though certain treatments work for some, they don’t necessarily work for everyone. Mental health disorders are much more complex than what can be described in this guide, so it is important to reach out to licensed professionals who specialize in mental health if you or someone you know is struggling with any of these issues.

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