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Types of Mental Illnesses

There are several types of mental illnesses that can cause mild to severe symptoms that may vary greatly from one type to another. Here is a list of some common mental disorders.
Buzzle Staff
Last Updated: Apr 20, 2018
Mental illnesses or mental disorders are defined as psychological abnormality in thinking, behavior and moods. It is often associated with distress, impaired functioning or disability of some form. There are a number of factors that can lead to mental illnesses. Genetics, biological and environmental factors can lead to mental disorders in men, women and children of all ages. To ensure that recovery and treatment measures are provided, it is extremely important to identify and diagnose these conditions. Over the years with advances in clinical psychiatry, there have been a number of changes in the recognition of the types of mental disorders.

Classifying the Types of Mental Illnesses

The definitions and classifications of the various type of mental illnesses have undergone a number of changes. Currently there are two accepted systems of classifications of mental health disorders - one is done by ICD-10 Chapter V: Mental and behavioral disorders. This manual has been published by the International Classification of Diseases, WHO since 1949. The other is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the fourth and latest edition is the DSM-IV) produced by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This manual has been in publication since 1952 and is widely used in US while Britain and the rest of Europe follows the former code of classification provided by ICD. Both these syndrome-based classifications, list a range of mental health conditions for example the DSM IV lists around 300 of mental disorders.

Along with this, the ICD-10 has included childhood disorders under two broad categories, Disorders of psychological children's behavioral and emotional problems development (F80−89) and Behavioral and Emotional Disorder with onset usually occurring in childhood and adolescence (F90−98). The DSM IV includes the childhood disorders under Axis I, Disruptive Behavior Disorder, Anxiety disorders of childhood or adolescence, eating disorders, tic disorders, elimination disorders and in Axis II under Pervasive developmental disorders. Here are a list of some common mental disorders in adults and children along with their definitions.

List of Mental Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Affecting around 40 million adults in America alone, anxiety disorders are extremely common and can affect anyone, be it adults or children. Unlike general bouts of anxiety once in a while, anxiety disorders are marked by extended periods of anxiety generally six months or more

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A person with generalized anxiety disorder has constant, excessive and irrational worry about anything be it family matters, money, relationships or work troubles. Fatigue, recurrent headaches, muscle aches, numbness of hands and feet, rashes, hot flashes and inability to control the anxiety are some of the common symptoms of this mental disorder.
  • Panic Disorder: A type of anxiety disorder that affects both adults and children, panic disorders lead to several, recurrent panic attacks. Most of these attacks are sudden and are triggered off without any warning. Common symptoms include intense anxiety, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, trembling and a feeling of intense, uncontrollable fear.
  • Specific Phobia: Derived from the Greek word Phobos, phobia is a feeling of intense fear of a specific thing that may or may not pose a danger to the person suffering from the fear. Proximity to the phobic stimulus can trigger off this irrational fear. Fear of spiders (arachnophobia), flying (aviophobia) and fear of dogs (Cynophobia) are some examples of specific phobias.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Also known as social phobia, social anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety disorder wherein a person feels extremely self-conscious and anxious in a social situation. He or she may start blushing, trembling, sweating profusely or have difficulty in conversing with people.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Repeated and often unwanted feelings, ideas or obsessions can be caused by obsessive compulsive disorder. The repetitive obsession of some distressing thought or image and the compulsion to do a specific act, can leave the person anxious and tired all the time. Some examples of obsessive compulsive behavior include repeated washing off hands to remove infection-carrying germs or checking and rechecking certain things like locking the door or switching off lights.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A traumatic experience like a natural disaster, hostage situations, abuse, bullying and rape can lead to post traumatic stress disorder. The person suffers from depression, anxiety and anger. Repeated flashbacks of the traumatic event can further increase the distress.

Childhood Disorders

Like adult mental disorders there are a number of childhood disorders as well. Child psychiatry studies have identified the need to study child psychology differently from adult psychology. This is because a child is dependent on parents and caregivers for emotional and other development. Moreover, children are less expressive in their words, and thus the disorders are more difficult to diagnose.

  • Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD): One of the most common childhood disorders, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder is characterized by hyperactive behavior, difficulty in paying attention and staying focused. The child becomes easily distracted, misses out on things, switches from one activity to other, is constantly in motion, talks non-stop, and often does not listen when spoken to.
  • Autistic Disorder (Autism): Autism or autistic disorder is a developmental disorder in which the child displays limited social communication and repetitive behavior. The symptoms can usually be seen at the preschool age. Certain developmental deficits like no babbling at twelve months of age or no words spoken by eighteen months along with loss of language or social skills can indicate autism in babies. In preschoolers, signs like lack of physical contact, avoiding eye contact and failure in communicating with others can indicate autism. The child may repeat certain behavior like stacking cups or placing things in a row. He or she may have certain rituals, and be extremely preoccupied with lights and moving objects.
  • Conduct Disorder: When there is a repetitive and persistent violation of rules along with flouting the socially accepted behavior, it is known as conduct disorder in children. Some of the common behavior exhibited include aggression towards people, cruelty to animals, stealing, fighting, destruction of property and violations of rules at school and home
  • Encopresis: This is the voluntary soiling of the clothes due to withholding of the stool. The stool which collects in the colon can leak out and stain the clothes. This is usually seen in toilet-trained toddlers above four years of age. Encopresis is a sign of constipation, or is caused by holding the stool due to psychological or neurological disorders.
  • Enuresis: Enuresis or bed wetting is the inability to control urination especially while sleeping. There are three types of enuresis including diurnal enuresis(daytime incontinence), nocturnal enuresis (nighttime incontinence) and mixed enuresis. While primary enuresis refers to children who have not been toilet trained, secondary enuresis refers to toilet trained kids who have incontinence due to some stressful situation. The behavior must be observed twice for at least three weeks for it to be diagnosed as enuresis.
  • Learning Disorder: Learning disorders is an umbrella term to define a wide range of disorders related to learning difficulties. These disorders affect how the person listens, speaks, understands and puts learned things to use. The learning disorders are grouped into different skill sets. These include:
    • Learning disabilities in reading (dyslexia)
    • Learning disabilities in math (dyscalculia)
    • Learning disabilities in writing (dysgraphia)
    • Learning disabilities in language (aphasia/dysphasia)
    • Learning disabilities in motor skills (dyspraxia)
    • Visual processing Disorder
    • Audio Processing Disorder
  • Mental Retardation: Preferably known as intellectual disability, mental retardation is a developmental disability that is characterized by below average intellectual functioning and adaptive skills (skills needed for everyday life like learning language, social skills and work related skills). It is often diagnosed in children less than eighteen years of age.
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder: This is a disorder that is marked by hostility and defiance towards authority figures. Common symptoms of the disorder include extreme anger, refusal to comply with rules, saying hurtful things, mean and spiteful behavior in children. The child may have frequent and inconsolable temper tantrums and anger outbursts.
  • Pica Disorder: When a child eats substances like clay, dirt, chalk or sand then he or she may have the pica disorder. This is especially true if the child continues to do so for more than a month. Some of these substances can be toxic like the lead in paint or hairballs that can cause intestinal obstruction. Nutritional deficiencies like an iron deficiency, acquired taste or mental stressors like parental neglect, family issues and poverty can trigger off this disorder in children.
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder: A rare condition but one which can have serious implications, reactive attachment disorder is when a child fails to get attached to caregivers or parents due to abuse or neglect. Orphaned children may suffer from this problem as well. The lack of necessary love and nurture can lead to withdrawing from others. The child is often not responsive to people, has no interest in playing with toys or other people and likes being alone. In older children symptoms like aggressive behavior, obvious awkwardness and discomfort can be seen.
  • Rett's Disorder: A neurodevelopmental disorder that affects girls only, Rett's disorder is characterized by normal growth in the initial six months of the baby's life, followed by a slowing in the development. Slow head growth, problems with walking, wringing of hands, seizures and loss of muscle tone are some common physical symptoms. The developmental delay may be accompanied by a deterioration of the language and social skills.
  • Rumination Disorder: This is an eating disorder in children which is characterized by constant regurgitation and re-chewing of food that is undigested. This is more often seen in infants older than three months and rarely in younger children or adolescents. This disorder is often accompanied by symptoms like bad breath, stomach indigestion, chapped lips and weight loss in babies.
  • Selective Mutism: This is a childhood psychological disorder in which a child who can speak restricts himself or herself from speaking in social settings or at school with unfamiliar people. This form of extreme social phobia is especially common in children who are younger than five years of age.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: Separation anxiety in children is described as a fear or anxiety over separation from the parent and home. The child may suffer from excessive distress and worry at the prospect of being separated from the primary caregiver and familiar surroundings. They may refuse to go to school, be reluctant to sleep and have repeated nightmares about being separated. In some cases, the child may complain of imaginary illnesses like headaches and fever.
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder: This is a mental disorder in children that is characterized by repetitive behavior like hand waving, biting oneself, nail biting or body rocking. The behavior often has a negative impact on the day-to-day life of the child and may even cause bodily harm.
  • Tic Disorder: Abrupt, often painless, rapid movements or sounds are known as tics. There are two types of tics, motor and vocal tics. Motor tics can range from being simple tics like eye blinking or head jerks or complex tics like biting, banging and making obscene gestures. Similarly vocal tics can range from meaningless sounds to complex vocal tics like coprolalia wherein obscene gestures and sounds are made. When both motor and vocal tics are present it is known as Tourette's disorder which is a more complex form of tic disorder.

Cognitive Disorders

Cognitive disorders affect the learning, memory, problem solving and perception. Contrary to popular assumption, cognitive disorders are not just suffered by the elderly. People of all ages can have cognitive disorders like delirium and dementia. It can be a result of substance abuse, some medical condition or a combination of both.

  • Delirium: Delirium is a mental disorder that is characterized by a difficulty in understanding the situation and a disturbance of the individual's consciousness. The person may exhibit symptoms such as purposelessness, random behavior and actions. There may be a change in the sleep and wake cycle. Moreover, the thought process is disorganized and the speech, memory and concentration of the person may be impaired.
  • Dementia: Dementia is described as a disorder that is characterized by a loss of a person's memory due to certain factors including brain trauma or stroke. Diseases like Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease can also lead to this mental disorder. In such a case it is known as Dementia of Alzheimer's type or Dementia due to HIV.

Dissociative Disorders

When there is a disruption or a complete breakdown of a person's memory, perception and awareness then it is known as dissociative disorder. The thoughts, feelings and sensations of a person become disconnected from one another. Often caused by psychological trauma especially during childhood and adolescence, dissociative disorder can range from amnesia to a multiple personality disorder.

  • Depersonalization Disorder: Is there a feeling of being cut off from oneself and watching own actions from afar? Then it can be a sign of depersonalization disorder. These periods of detachment can be recurrent and persistent, thus resulting in dysfunction and distress in an individual. Sometimes emotional stress, sleep deprivations and use of alcohol can trigger off a random episode of this detachment in healthy individuals. However, if there are persistent and recurrent episodes of the same then it can be a sign of the disorder.
  • Dissociative Amnesia: A loss of memory about a significant period of time or inability to recall vital personal information is known as dissociative amnesia. This can be caused by an episode of a single extremely stressful situation like an accident.
  • Dissociative Fugue: Caused by a single stressful event, dissociative fugue is a type of dissociative disorder wherein a person constructs a whole new identity to replace the confusion regarding the actual identity. Unable to recall the past, the person connects totally with the new identity while totally relinquishing the memories of the former identity.
  • Dissociative identity disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder): Also known as Multiple Personality disorder, the dissociative identity disorder is characterized by two or more different identities or personalities of a person and inability to recollect the memories of each personality state. The different personalities may take control over the thoughts and actions at different times. Severe depersonalization and detachment from the surroundings can be witnessed.
  • Dissociative disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS): Other than these types of dissociative behavior, a person may suffer from mood swings, phobias, substance abuse, suicidal tendencies and various health problems which are in some way associated with dissociative disorder.

Eating Disorders

Defined as either excessive or extremely restrictive food intake, eating disorders can severely harm a person's health. The preoccupation with food and health is so much that a person has little time to think of anything else.

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Characterized by an irrational fear of putting on weight and a severely restricted diet, anorexia nervosa is a common eating disorder among many young men and women. These food restrictions lead to severe weight loss and other metabolic and hormonal changes. The person often has a negative self image, exercises too much and is always preoccupied with food. Constipation, menstrual irregularities, pain in abdomen, low blood pressure and dehydration are some of the common signs of this disorder. Extreme cases of anorexia can lead to multi-organ failure and brain damage.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food followed by feeling of guilt and compensatory behavior like forced vomiting and excessive exercising is known as bulimia nervosa. Common symptoms of this disorder include swollen glands, inflamed throat, acid reflux, severe dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance.
  • Binge Eating: Binge eating disorder is when a person loses control over their eating. Obesity along with related diseases like cardiovascular problems are some of the common effects of binge eating. After consuming the excess food, feelings of guilt and depression follow. This can be accompanied by even more eating.

Impulse Control Disorder

Impulse control disorder is a type of psychological disorder wherein a person is unable to resist the urge or the temptation to engage in an action that might harm him or her or even others. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) manual there are a number of types of impulse control behavior, prominent among which are

  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder: Intermittent Explosive Disorder or IED include extreme manifestations of anger in an individual due to real or perceived provocations. This can lead to aggressive acts like destroying property or assaulting someone.
  • Kleptomania: The impulsive urge to steal something without considering the item's monetary value or use. The stealing is done for gratification and fulfillment of committing the theft.
  • Pathological Gambling: The urge to continuously gamble despite knowing about the harmful effects of the same is known as pathological gambling or problem gambling. This uncontrollable impulse to gamble can have significant negative effects on someone's life including financial problems, disrupted family life and other such effects.
  • Pyromania: Pyromania is an impulse control disorder wherein a person feels the uncontrollable urge to set fire. This is often done without any motive and just for the gratification of setting fire.
  • Trichotillomania: Identified as an overwhelming urge to pluck one's hair, trichotillomania can lead to noticeable hair loss especially around the eyebrows, head, eyelashes and hands.

Other types of impulse control disorders that are not specified include internet addiction, dermatillomania (skin picking), onchycophagia (nail biting) and compulsive shopping.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are some of the most common types of mental disorders affecting people around the world. These disorders signify a major change in a person's mood. Among them, depression and bipolar disorder are two emotionally crippling mental illnesses that can severely affect a person's life whereas dysthymic disorder and cyclothymic disorder are some moderate forms of mood disorders.

  • Major Depression: Also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression, major depression is a mood disorder wherein a person suffers from extremely low self-esteem and lack of interest. It can affect a person's day-to-day life. The feelings of hopelessness, lack of self worth, inappropriate amount of guilt and obsessive thoughts are some of the symptoms of this disorder. In severe cases the person may suffer from insomnia, memory loss, delusions and thoughts of suicide.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar disorder is often referred to as manic depression or manic depressive illness. A person with bipolar disorder can suffer from frequent mood swings. A frenzied state of mania wherein a person appears energetic and excited is often followed by a state of depression. When the person has a manic episode he or she may feel extremely happy or be in an irritable and jumpy mood. They may talk fast, be easily distracted and jump from one idea to another. This is contrasted with depressive episode when there is a long periods of "feeling low" along with fatigue, inability to concentrate and change in habits. The person may have constant thoughts of suicide.
  • Dysthymic Disorder: Dysthymia is a persistent mood depression which is not severe enough to be classified under major depression. In this condition a person is hounded with a depressive feeling for more than two years and often has symptoms like poor appetite, low self-esteem, trouble concentrating and insomnia.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: A milder form of the severe bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder also results in mild forms of mania and depression phases. Some of the common symptoms of cyclothymic disorder is alternate periods of euphoria and depression over a period of two years with less than two symptom free months. The periods of depression usually tends to extend more than the mania phase.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Referred to as winter blues or summer blues , seasonal affective disorder is a type of mood disorder wherein people experience changes in the mood with weather changes.

Organic Brain Disorders

These types of disorders are the direct result of physical changes that affect the brain. In other words, there are various diseases and disorders that can affect or damage the brain, leading to an impaired mental function. The term is used to denote physical disorders than can lead to mental illnesses and not the psychiatric ones. However, the demarcation between the two is almost impossible in many cases. So, this term is not widely used nowadays. The following are some of the mental illnesses that come under the term organic brain disorder/organic brain disease/organic brain syndrome.

  • Huntington disease: An inherited disease that affects the brain, Huntington disease causes progressive breakdown of the nerve cells in the brain, leading to functional, cognitive and psychiatric problems.
  • Multiple sclerosis: A degenerative disease, multiple sclerosis affects the myelin sheath covering of the nerve cells, thereby slowing down or stopping the nerve impulses. This disorder affects the central nervous system (brain & spinal cord), causing a wide range of physical as well as mental symptoms.
  • Alzheimer's disease: One of the common causes of dementia (loss of brain function caused by certain diseases), Alzheimer's disease is characterized by degeneration and death of brain cells, thereby affecting the mental function.
  • Parkinson's Disease: This is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The condition affects the nerve cells' ability to send messages and cause tremors that may even lead to paralysis.

There are various cardiovascular diseases that may affect the functioning of the brain and lead to certain mental illnesses. These include stroke, cardiac arrhythmias, infections of the heart, etc.
Sometimes mental disorders can be trauma-induced. For example, a head injury can affect the brain and cause damage to the organ, causing mental disorders. Other medical conditions that can affect brain functioning include cancer, thyroid problems, liver and kidney diseases, infections (like septicemia), certain vitamin deficiencies (like B12), drug and alcohol related - intoxication, drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms, etc.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders affect people who deviate from the set of distinctive behavioral and mental traits that are defined by our society. This can cause serious relationships and work related problems. There are around ten personality disorders which are divided into three clusters as listed by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. These include:

Cluster A (Odd)

  • Paranoid Personality DisorderA general mistrust of others along with suspicious thinking, paranoia and constantly looking for threats of danger are all signs of paranoid personality disorder.
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder: A person with schizod personality disorder avoids and is often indifferent to others. He or she may show a complete lack of interest in social relationships or is unable to express emotionally.
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder: Some of the common symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder include eccentric behavior in terms of dressing styles, odd beliefs in magic and supernatural, social withdrawal, paranoid thinking and suspicious thinking. The person with this disorder will have excessive social anxiety and be lacking in any close friends and confidantes.

Cluster B (Dramatic)

  • Antisocial Personality DisorderA person with this disorder tends to violate and exploit the right of others. Along with the lack of any regard or empathy for others, the person may also display some amount of regular criminal activity.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder: Unstable interpersonal relationships, extreme mood changes, unpredictable, often self destructive actions and changes in self image are some of the characteristics of a borderline personality disorder.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A magnified sense of self importance and needs of constant attention are signs of narcissistic personality disorder. They may be extremely sensitive to failure and are often torn between insecurity and admiration for themselves.
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder: People affected with histrionic personality disorder demonstrate exaggerated often theatrical expression of emotions, are easily influenced by circumstances, are overtly concerned about physical appearance and have a continuous need for excitement . Some of the marked signs include looking for appreciation, manipulation to meet their own needs and feeling that are easily bruised.

Cluster C (Anxious)

  • Avoidant Personality DisorderAvoidant personality disorder manifests itself in people who remain shy and withdrawn all their life. They may be sensitive to rejection and their thoughts are always clouded with their own shortcomings.
  • Dependent Personality Disorder: People with dependent personality disorder are extremely dependent on others to meet their needs, be it physical or emotional. They shy away from personal responsibilities, are easily hurt by criticism and always feel extremely helpless and alone in any relationship. Their decision-making ability is affected and they have problems expressing themselves in case of any disagreement.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder: Is there a person who is obsessed with rules, cleanliness and orderliness? These may be symptoms of obsessive compulsive personality disorder. The person would lack flexibility and would be continuously obsessed with details and rules. He or she may be unable to show affection or generosity towards others. To be classified as a disorder the obsession should have a negative impact on the person's life and relationships with others.

Sexual Disorders

  • Dyspareunia: Dyspareunia, also known as painful intercourse can be caused by a number of physical as well as physiological factors. Anxiety, stress, relationship problems and fear of intimacy are some of the psychological factors that can lead to pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Exhibitionism: The act of exposing one's private parts in the public for instant gratification is known as exhibitionism.
  • Female and Male Orgasmic Disorders: When the orgasm does not occur or is delayed due to a number of psychological factors like anxiety and stress, it is classified under orgasmic disorder.
  • Female Sexual Arousal Disorder: Also known as frigidity, female sexual arousal disorder can manifest itself in a lack of excitement or pleasure in the sexual activity. They woman may wish to avoid sexual contact with the partner. Psychological factors like anger, depression, lack of trust or extreme conflict in the relationship can lead to this sexual disorder in women.
  • Fetishism: A type of sexual disorder which is characterized by a person displaying sexual behavior and fantasies towards a inanimate object.
  • Frotteurism: Frotteurism is a sexual disorder in which a person has sexual fantasies and urges when rubbing or touching a non-consenting person.
  • Gender Identity Disorder: A person with gender identity disorder may identify with the other sex more than their own. He or she may feel like it would have been better if they were born as the opposite sex.
  • Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder also known as HSDD is a chronic absence of sexual desires and fantasies. To be considered as a psychological disorder this condition must have a negative impact on the interpersonal relationships of the person or cause marked distress.
  • Male Erectile Dysfunction (ED): Also known as impotence, erectile dysfunction is the inability to maintain an erection. Along with physical causes like hormonal problems or circulatory problems, erectile dysfunction can also be caused by psychological factors like depression, anxiety and problems in relationships.
  • Pedophilia: Pedophilia is a form of mental disorder in which men or women, sixteen years or older have a sexual orientation towards children below the age of thirteen years also known as prepubescents. According to diagnostic criteria by the DSM IV, the person must be five years older than the child and should be engaged in fantasies, behavior or sexual urges with a child younger than 13 years.
  • Premature Ejaculation: This is a condition in which a man ejaculates sooner than his partner would want him to during a sexual intercourse. It is more often caused due to psychological factors like anxiety, guilt and excessive stimulation.
  • Sex Addiction: Sex addiction also known as sexual addiction is described as an obsession for sex. This often interferes in the person's life, sometimes even putting a person in physical and mental danger.
  • Sexual Masochism: Sexual Masochism is a type of sexual disorder wherein a person derives sexual pleasure and gratification from inflicting pain and humiliating the other person. The person may engage in fantasies or acts that involve physical pain like being beaten up or bound or just be limited to verbal humiliation and insults.
  • Voyeurism: A sexual disorder in which a person derives sexual pleasure and gratification by watching people naked, undressing or engaged in sexual acts.

Sleep Disorders

  • Hypersomnia: Characterized by excessive sleepiness during the daytime, hypersomnia affects a person over a long period of time usually more than three months. The person is lethargic and unable to lead a normal life. Hypersomnia is classified as primary and recurring hypersomnia. Whereas people with primary hypersomnia suffer from recurring sleepiness over a long period of time, people with recurring hypersomnia will have two to three days of excessive sleepiness over a period of two to three years.
  • Insomnia: When a person is unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, he or she is said to be suffering from insomnia. The person affected with insomnia will have trouble falling asleep, would wake up a lot of times, wake up too early and be extremely tired even after waking up. Significant stress, depression and anxiety, problems with concentration and memory along with certain mental disorders like bipolar disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder are some of the psychological causes of insomnia.
  • Nightmare Disorder: Nightmare disorder is a type of sleep disorder in which a person is assailed by frequent nightmares while sleeping. The people with this disorder have detailed nightmarish dreams that can involve a threat to their safety or self-esteem. It can cause significant distress in the life of a person and impair the functioning of a person in social or occupational settings. This is often triggered off by events of extreme psychological stress like accidents or death of a loved one.
  • Sleep Terror Disorder: Also referred to as night terrors, sleep terror disorder is characterized by a person waking up from sleep with extreme fear or dread. This disorder primarily affects children and in rare cases even adults. The child may wake up with extreme fright and be inconsolable. They may thrash their limbs or exhibit symptoms like excessive sweating, rapid heartbeat and sleepwalking.
  • Sleepwalking Disorder: If a person repeatedly gets up from bed and walks or performs other activities while still sleeping, then he or she may suffering from sleepwalking disorder. On waking up the person may or may not remember the activity that he or she has done while sleepwalking. Sleep deprivation, chronic stress along with psychiatric disorders like panic attacks or multiple personality disorders can lead to sleepwalking disorder.
  • Oneirophrenia: Due to prolonged sleep deficiency, or certain psychoactive drugs a person may suffer from oneirophrenia. This is a mental state which is characterized by illusions, hallucinations and other mental health problems.
  • Parasomnias: Parasomnias is an umbrella term that stands for a number of unnatural movements, behavior or perceptions, while sleeping, between the different sleep stages and on waking up. Some of the common type of parasomnias include:
    • Sleepwalking
    • Nightmares
    • Night terrors
    • Head banging (Rhythmic Movement Disorder)
    • Sleep talking
    • Nocturnal leg cramps
    • Sleep paralysis
    • Bruxism (Teeth grinding)
    • Sleep enuresis (Bed wetting)
    • Irregular heart rhythms
    • Sleep related erections

Other Mental Disorders

  • Adjustment Disorders: When a major stressor or an event changes the life of a person and he or she is unable to cope with these changes , then an adjustment disorder occurs. Adjustment disorders are extremely common and can affect anyone be it children or adults. Hopelessness, extreme sadness, anxiety, sleep problems, feeling worried and overwhelmed are some of the symptoms of this disorder. The person may exhibit suicidal tendencies or engage in destructive behavior.
  • Conversion Disorder: A mental illness in which a person suffers from neurological symptoms like blindness, paralysis, numbness and inability to speak. These conditions are often not connected to any medical condition.
  • Factitious Disorders: A group of mental illnesses in which a person knowingly feigns an illness and its symptoms. The people with factitious disorder may lie about the symptoms, alter the diagnostic tests and even hurt themselves to bring on the symptoms. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) recognizes four types of Factitious disorders
    • Factitious disorder with mostly psychological symptoms
    • Factitious disorder with mostly physical symptoms
    • Factitious disorder with both psychological and physical symptoms
    • Factitious disorder not otherwise specified

Unlike somatization disorder in which the person experiences the symptoms, factitious disorders are characterized by the person intentionally faking the symptoms of the illness without actually experiencing it. History of neglect, abuse as a child or long term illnesses of close family members can cause this disorder.
  • Fregoli delusionPeople with Fregoli delusion believe that a single person changes his or her disguise and appears as different people to torment them. Hallucinations, difficulty in retaining visual memory, delusions, lack of self awareness and monitoring are some of the common symptoms of this disorder.
  • Somatization Disorder: This disorder is also known as hysteria or the Briquet's syndrome. It is characterized by people constantly complaining of pain caused by certain conditions although there is no medical evidence or physical cause for the same. In this case the person experiences the symptoms of the condition and even feels the pain caused by it. This disorder is often seen in people with chronic pain or irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Shared psychotic disorder: When an otherwise healthy person starts believing in the delusional thoughts of a psychotic person with whom he or she has a close relationship, it is known as shared psychotic disorder or folie á deux. This is an extremely rare condition that occurs only in very long term relationships.
  • Substance Abuse: The harmful use of certain psychoactive substances like drugs, tobacco and alcohol, thus leading to a dependence on these substances is known as substance abuse. The person often understands the harmful nature of the substance yet continues using it.

Although it is not comprehensive, this list of mental illnesses has tried to encapsulate the mental disorders that are commonly identified by psychiatrists and health professionals around the world. Some of these mental disorders and their symptoms may span across more than one category. What is important, is to watch out for the warning signals of these mental health conditions. Assessment of the condition and immediate treatment be it in form of therapy or medications can help in preventing what might become a severe and debilitating psychiatric disorder.

Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only. It should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.