Do I Have A Mental Illness? 28 Mental Disorders And Their Symptoms
Content/Trigger Warning: This article contains sensitive topics. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact one of the following hotlines.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text "START" to 88788.
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Life can be scary, confusing, or upsetting when you’re experiencing emotional, cognitive, and physical changes. You might even ask yourself, “Do I have a mental illness?” It’s a natural question, especially since, according to NAMI statistics, 1 in 5 American adults had some type of mental disorders in 2018. Getting a diagnosis from a professional is essential but learning about mental disorders may be an excellent first step towards improving your mental health. The following list contains many of the most common mental illnesses and their symptoms.
The APA Dictionary of Psychology defines mood disorder as “a psychiatric condition in which the principal feature is a prolonged, pervasive emotional disturbance.” Mental disorders included in this mental health category affect not only your emotions but also your thoughts and your physical functioning.
- Major Depression
Major depression is one of the mental disorders that is characterized by persistent sadness and other symptoms. However, you won’t have manic or hypomanic symptoms if you have this mental health condition.
Emotions – sad, hopeless, guilty, irritability, anxiety, emptiness, loss of interest in things once enjoyed
Thoughts – trouble concentrating and making decisions, suicidal thoughts
Physical – appetite and weight changes, unexplained aches and pains, insomnia or sleeping too much, fatigue
- Persistent Depressive Disorder
Persistent depressive disorder is a mental health issue in which you experience symptoms of depression most days for at least two years.
- Bipolar Disorder
Several mental disorders come under the umbrella of bipolar disorder. If you have one of these mental health conditions, you will have depressive episodes with any of the depression signs. You will also have manic or hypomanic symptoms. Manic symptoms include:
Emotions – upbeat, wired, expansive, euphoric
Thoughts – grandiose or racing thoughts, distractibility, excessive self-confidence, lack of judgment, extreme risk-taking
Physical – increased energy or agitation, needing less sleep or food
- Postpartum Depression
You might have this mental disorder anytime from pregnancy to a year after your baby’s birth. In addition to other depression symptoms, you might experience excessive crying, withdrawing from family, difficulty bonding with the new baby, and feelings that you’re a bad mother. If the mental health condition is severe, you might even have trouble caring for your baby.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
More severe than PMS, symptoms of this mental health condition include mood swings, irritability, and other signs of depression, along with cramps, bloating, pain, and headaches. The symptoms start about a week to ten days before your period and go away after your period begins.
These mental disorders come with excessive worry, fear, and nervousness. Yet each mental health condition is unique, and often relatively easy to recognize once you know the symptoms.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GAD is one of the mental disorders marked by worry and tension. Its symptoms are often unrelated to what’s happening and seem to come out of nowhere to affect your mental health.
Feelings – restlessness, being on edge, irritability
Thoughts – excessive worry, unrealistic views, trouble concentrating
Physical – muscle tension, headaches, sweating, nausea, needing to go to the bathroom often, tiredness, sleep problems, trembling, startling easily
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder includes several mental disorders. Each of these mental health problems includes both obsessive and compulsive symptoms.
Obsessive – fear of dirt or contamination, doubting, uncertainty, needing things to be symmetrical, thoughts of losing control or harming yourself, unwanted aggressive, sexual, or religious thoughts.
Compulsive – excessive washing and cleaning, checking, counting, strict adherence to a routine, needing constant reassurance.
- Panic Disorder
Panic attacks are the main feature of this mental health condition. Many of the symptoms seem physical, yet the state isn’t physically dangerous.
Thoughts and Feelings – sense of impending doom, fear of death, feeling of unreality
Physical – nausea, chest pain, headache, lightheadedness, numbness or tingling, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, trembling, chills, sweating, abdominal cramping
Phobias are mental disorders in which you feel extreme fear when something triggers the phobia. The trigger could be heights, snakes, closed-in spaces, or a range of other possibilities. Symptoms include:
Feelings – fear of dying, losing control, or fainting, sense of being detached from your body
Physical – unsteadiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, choking sensation, pounding heart or fast heartbeat, chest pain or tightness, sweating, hot or cold flushes, shortness of breath, nausea, tingling, trembling
Agoraphobia is a mental health challenge in which you have such intense anxiety symptoms that you avoid going to or even thinking about places and situations that bring up feelings like helplessness, embarrassment, or a sense of being threatened.
- Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is a frustrating mental health problem for anyone who would like to or needs to interact with people socially. Symptoms include:
Fears – of being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated, of strangers, that others will notice you look anxious, of physical symptoms others might notice
Behaviors – avoiding speaking to others or being the center of attention, analyzing your social performance after the fact
Physical – blushing, trembling, sweating, fast heartbeat, nausea, breathlessness, dizziness, blank mind, muscle tension
Eating disorders are mental disorders that affect both your physical and psychological health. They all include intense feelings and behaviors related to eating.
- Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is one of these mental disorders. It is a mental health problem in which you eat very little and typically lose weight at a rate that is alarming to your friends and family. You can find a full list of symptoms at the National Eating Disorder Association. Here are a few of the most common.
Feelings and Behaviors – preoccupied with food, dieting, and weight; talking about being fat and needing to diet, saying you’re not hungry, having food rituals, unrealistic body image, wearing multi-layered baggy clothes
Physical Signs – dramatic weight loss, stomach cramps, menstrual irregularities, sleep problems, feeling cold constantly, dry skin and nails, cavities, thinning hair, muscle weakness, and poor wound healing and immune response
Another of these mental disorders is bulimia, in which you eat and sometimes binge on food but then purge in an attempt to get rid of the calories you consumed. If you have this mental health problem, you might have an intense fear of gaining weight, be worried about your body shape and size, eat large amounts of food at one time, force yourself to vomit and fast between binges.
- Binge Eating
Another mental health issue people sometimes have is binge eating. In this disorder, you eat large amounts of food in a short time, but there are other signs as well.
Feelings – that you’re out of control, depressed, disgusted with yourself, ashamed, or upset
Behaviors – eating when you’re full, eating fast while binging, eating alone or secretly, dieting without weight loss
When something extremely distressing happens to you, you might have mental health problems in this category. Trauma-related mental disorders are reactions to terrifying, disturbing, or life-threatening events.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Stressful events, like being in combat or being assaulted, can trigger PTSD. This mental health condition can last for months or years if left untreated. Symptoms include intrusive memories, nightmares, avoiding anything that reminds you of the event, negative thoughts and feelings, being easily startled, trouble sleeping, irritability, anger, aggression, and feeling emotionally disconnected or numb.
- Acute Stress Disorder
Acute stress disorder is one of the mental health conditions in which you feel symptoms of anxiety. Signs usually come up after a traumatic event and last for up to a month. In addition to anxiety symptoms, you might also feel numb or a sense of unreality, or have vivid flashbacks or difficulty remembering the event.
Impulse Control Disorders
If you have these mental disorders, your behavior is so out of control that you can cause harm to yourself and others. These behaviors go against laws, societal norms, and best practices, yet you engage in them without thinking.
Kleptomania is a mental health problem in which you steal things you don’t need. You might have increasing tension just before you take something and feel a sense of relief afterward.
If you have pyromania, you’re fascinated with fire and may set things on fire, often harming others or destroying property in the process.
- Intermittent Explosive Disorder
Mental disorders like intermittent explosive disorder can cause harm to others as well as impact your mental health. Brief flashes of anger and violence characterize this mental health issue. Additionally, these outbursts are all out of proportion to the events that trigger them. An everyday annoyance can set off a fit of rage.
Mental health conditions in the psychotic category are mental disorders in which you have a break with reality. Some of these mental health problems are chronic, while others are short-lived.
Schizophrenia is one of the severe chronic psychiatric disorders. Symptoms usually start between the ages of 16 and 30. They include positive signs (things that happen) and negative symptoms (things that are absent or decreased).
Positive Symptoms – hallucinations, delusions, dysfunctional ways of thinking, movement disorders
Negative Symptoms – reduced facial expressions, decreased feelings of pleasure in the everyday, trouble starting or continuing with activities, speaking very little
- Schizoaffective Disorder
This mental health condition is a mix of schizophrenic disorder and mood disorder. The two types of schizoaffective disorder are manic type and depressive type. In addition to manic or depressed, and schizophrenic symptoms, someone with this mental health issue might have incoherent speech, bizarre behavior, trouble functioning at work, school, or in social situations, and problems with grooming.
- Brief Psychotic Disorder
If you’re under extreme stress, you might develop brief psychotic disorder very rapidly. This temporary mental health problem can have intense symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions. Although you return to your normal functioning shortly afterward, the time when you’re having psychotic symptoms can be dangerous to you and others around you.
Personality disorders are mental health problems that last for many years or even for your entire life. When you have one of these mental health disorders, your thoughts, emotions, and actions are dysfunctional and may bring harm to your relationship and other aspects of your life. Here are some of those mental health disorders.
Those with narcissistic personality disorder have little empathy for others. They’re self-centered and have an excessively elevated self-image. You might think you have extraordinary powers, talents, and beauty. You might expect others to praise you continually if you have this mental health issue.
People with borderline personality disorder tend to be impulsive, have unstable self-image and intense relationships, have mood swings and suicidal behavior, fear to be alone, and may have transitory paranoia. This mental health problem can make your life feel like a whirlwind of emotion.
People with this mental health condition are extremely sensitive to rejection and criticism. They avoid interpersonal contact and new activities. They may be very shy and feel inferior to others. Their mental health suffers, partly because they become so isolated from others.
If you have a paranoid personality disorder, you distrust and are suspicious of others. You erroneously think that others are trying to hurt you or that they’re untrustworthy. You hear innocent remarks and view them as personal attacks. You hold grudges and may become hostile when you believe others have insulted you. When others suggest you might need mental health treatment, you might be suspicious of their motives.
When you have a dependent personality disorder, you might feel excessively dependent on others. You might be clingy or submissive. You might fear to be on your own, having to take care of yourself, disagreeing with others, or disapproval. You might have low self-confidence and difficulty doing activities on your own. Even if your relationship partner abuses you, you might put up with it rather than going out on your own. And if the relationship ends despite this, you might feel the need to jump into another relationship immediately.
Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
Substance use disorders can be very distressing and can impact your life in profound ways. These conditions aren’t merely due to a lack of willpower or not trying. They are significant mental health diseases.
- Alcohol, Illegal or Prescription Drugs
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you have a mental health problem when you use alcohol or other addictive substances. After all, many people drink socially and harmlessly. However, there are several signs that you might need help with substance use disorder.
You might feel you need to use the substance many times every day. You need more overtime to achieve the same effects. You might steal to get the substance and always be concerned about keeping a supply of it on hand. You try to quit using it, but you are unsuccessful. And, anytime you do stop using it, you have withdrawal symptoms.
What to Do If You Think You Might Have a Mental Disorder
If you recognize any of these mental health symptoms in yourself, you might wonder, “What now?” First, think about how these mental health problems are affecting your life and the lives of those around you.
Perhaps you still aren’t sure that you have a mental disorder. That’s natural if you aren’t a mental health professional. But a counselor can help you find out. Or, maybe you’re concerned that you can’t overcome the problem on your own. Through therapy and other treatments, you can learn how to cope with your symptoms and the challenges they cause.
Licensed counselors are available online at BetterHelp to provide convenient online therapy for a multitude of mental and emotional issues. Another option is to see a counselor in your local community. Many people with substance use and other disorders find help by joining a support group or forum. Talking to a counselor may be your next best step to improving your mental health. If you’re concerned about having any of these psychological issues, now might be the perfect time to pursue diagnosis and treatment.