mental disorder

What is Mental Disorder? Categories & Types of Mental Disorders

Today I would like to talk briefly about the different types of mental disorders. So let’s start-

What is Mental Disorder? Categories & Types of Mental Disorders


There is an enormous number of mental disorders, many of which may have overlapping features.


There is usually a stipulation, that the mental abnormalities are not due to the use of medications, substances, or another medical condition.


In which case the mental abnormalities are considered to be symptoms of that underlying cause rather than a mental disorder in and of itself.


Also, because the features of mental disorders often overlap with mental and behavioral aspects of some people considered to be within the bounds of what is normal for a person’s culture.

What is Mental Disorder? Categories & Types of Mental Disorders


Another general consideration is that the mental abnormalities cause distress.


Distress or disability.


Distress or disability-This is a key point because that means that a person that’s just unusual or eccentric does not have a mental illness.


So that a person that’s a little weird is not mentally ill.


So to give a very superficial overview of the types of mental disorders


I’ll go through some of the top level categories, and recall that there are two main systems in use currently to categorize the mental disorders.


There is the ICD-10 from the World Health Organization, and then there’s the DSM-5 from the American Psychiatric Association.


I’ll go through the categories of the DSM-5 just because I’m a little bit more familiar with that system, but there would be a lot of similarities between the two systems.


The DSM-5 has 20 top-level categories.


I’ll start with the neurodevelopmental disorders.


Some of the disorders in this category of neurodevelopmental disorders include intellectual disability which was previously called mental retardation.


The autism spectrum disorders are in this category, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders are in this category.


Like all the other categories of mental disorders, there is also a group within the neurodevelopmental disorders.


But keep in mind that every one of these big categories has another category at the end of it.


The next big category is called the neurocognitive disorders which involve disability from the loss of cognitive.


And often other functions of the brain after the nervous system has developed.


There are a couple of big categories of disorders within the neurocognitive disorders.


One is called & delirium and delirium is the name for a reversible episode of abnormalities of cognitive and other higher brain.


Functions from many potential causes such as certain drugs, abnormalities of certain components of the blood, or certain types of infections.


A major neurocognitive disorder which is also called & dementia, and its milder versions usually involve irreversible and often progressive loss of cognitive and other higher brain functions from many potential causes such as Alzheimer disease, or stroke.


The sleep-wake disorders involve distress from abnormalities related to sleep.


So let me just draw this person over here who’s got their eyes closed and they’re very sleepy.


We’ll just say they are sleeping, So here they’re snoring away, and this will represent our sleep-wake disorders.


Disorders in this category include insomnia and breathing-related sleep disorders that involve insufficient amounts of uninterrupted sleep.


There are other disorders in this category that cause abnormal sleepiness when awake.


Additional disorders in this category involve abnormal behaviors during sleep such as sleepwalking.


What is Mental Disorder? Categories & Types of Mental Disorders



The anxiety disorders involve distress from abnormal amounts of worry or fear.


Some of the anxiety disorders are certain to stimuli which are known as phobias, like a lot of people have a phobia of spiders or snakes.


While other disorders in this category are not specific to certain stimuli including a common one called generalized anxiety disorder.


Panic disorder is in this category which involves panic attacks which are episodes of intense anxiety that may cause people to be afraid to leave their homes.


The depressive disorders involve distress from the abnormally negative mood.


The term mood is used in several ways.


One way the term mood is used is to refer to a long-term emotional state which may be positive or negative.


In this way, the word mood is related to emotions, but emotions are thought of experiences often related to specific stimuli like getting something you want.


Whereas mood is more persistent, and may or may not be related to specific events in a person’s life.


So that mood may refer to what a person is saying they feel like they may say they feel sad, while affect may refer to the person crying.


In addition to the negative mood the depressive disorders often related to symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness, or loss of enjoyment in activities.


These disorders carry a particularly high risk of suicide which is a major cause of death in people with many types of mental illness.


Bipolar and related disorders involve distress or disability from abnormal mood similar to the depressive disorders.


But the difference is that these disorders may have positive mood which is known as mania.


During periods of mania people will often sleep little, talk fast, and may make bad decisions from impaired judgment about the risks of activities, or their own abilities.


And this can lead to all sorts of social or legal problems with this category of disorders.


Schizophrenia spectrum and the other psychotic disorders are the next categories which involve distress, or disability known as psychosis.


Psychosis involves certain features such as delusions or hallucinations.


Hallucinations involve sensory perceptions without real stimuli such as hearing voices that are not there.


With psychosis, disorganized thinking may occur.


Which may involve decreased emotional expression, motivation, or social behavior.


Schizophrenia may have any of these features, and the other disorders in this category usually have some of them.


The trauma-and-stressor-related disorders involve distress or disability that may occur after mentally traumatic, or stressful events leading to mood, emotional, behavioral, and other abnormalities.


Post-traumatic stress disorder is the prototype disorder in this category which has had many previous names because it has been common after wars throughout history.


These disorders are common after all kinds of traumatic experiences such as rape, assault, and natural disasters.


Substance-related and addictive disorders involve distress from the abnormal use of substances that affect mental functions.


But there are a lot of substances that can affect mental functions, and cause a substance-related disorder.


These include alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics, stimulants, and tobacco, amongst others.


The mental effects of these substances may cause mental abnormalities.


Similar to the other types of mental disorders including mood abnormalities, anxiety symptoms, or psychosis.


The personality disorders involve distress or disability related to personality.


Personality involves long-term mental and behavioral features that are characteristic of a person.


These are groups in clusters.


1. Cluster A often has odd or eccentric behavior.


2. Cluster B often involves intense emotional, and relationship problems.


3. Cluster C is often anxious, avoidant or obsessive.


Disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders involve distress or disability from behaviors that are unacceptably disruptive or impulsive for a person’s culture.


Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders involve distress or disability from obsessions or compulsions.


Obsessions are thoughts that recur involuntarily, and which are often unwelcome.


Compulsions are activities that a person feels they must do and which are often related to an obsession.


A common example is someone having an obsession that their hands are dirty.


And then a compulsion to wash their hands many more times a day that would be normal.


Somatic symptom and related disorders involve distress from symptoms similar to those that may occur with illness unrelated to a mental disorder.


But the symptoms are of psychological origin with or without also having symptoms of a general medical condition at the same time.


An example of this could be someone that has abdominal pain, so they’re saying & my abdomen hurts, but there’s actually not anything physically wrong with the abdomen.


Feeding and eating disorders involve distress or disability from mental, or behavioral abnormalities related to food.


Disorders in this category include anorexia nervosa, where a person takes in an insufficient amount of food.


So we’ll say this person is turning down a perfectly nice slice of pizza even though they’re actually way below their healthy body weight.


And another common disorder in this category is bulimia nervosa which involves binge eating and purging.


The elimination disorders involve distress from urination or defecation at inappropriate times or places.


The dissociative disorders involve distress or disability from abnormalities of identity or memory.


Some of the people with these disorders.


Seem to have multiple personalities or may have lost memory for parts of their lives.


The sexual dysfunctions involve distress, or disability from abnormalities and/or performance of a sexual activity.


Gender dysphoria involves distress or disability caused by a person identifying themselves as a different gender than that identified by society.


If people experience distress or disability regarding gender identity the distress and disability constitute the disorder.


A person identifying with another gender without distress or disability does not have a mental disorder.


Previously, there was much stigmatization surrounding this issue and older categorization.


Systems that did consider identification with another gender as a mental disorder in and of itself.


The paraphilic disorders involve people that have distress or disability related to having sexual arousal to unusual stimuli.


So I’ll also just point this over to the R-Rating over here.


So now similarly to gender dysphoria people that have sexual arousal to unusual stimuli.


Stimuli do not have a mental disorder unless it causes distress or disability.


For this category activity related to it could cause harm to another.


Particularly children or other people without sufficient decision-making capacity for proper consent.


The last category is disorders.


The entire purpose of this category is for any person that appears to have a mental disorder causing distress.


But one that doesn’t fit well in any of these other categories of mental disorder.


The vast majority of people with a mental disorder will fit in one of these big categories of mental disorders.


But very rarely a person just won’t fit but does clearly have a mental disorder.


And that’s what this other disorders category is for. So that’s all I have time for now, and, obviously, there’s a lot more information with all the specific disorders.


That contains these top-level categories of the DSM-5.




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