The 10 Most Common Mental Illnesses Broken Down

10 Most Common Mental Illnesses Broken Down

By Spicevicious


Mental Illness Affects Us All


Mental illness affects–even wrecks–the lives of millions of individuals and their families every year regardless of age, cultural background, and socioeconomic status.  Here’s a quick breakdown of what the experts have to say:



Mental illness doesn’t just take an emotional toll on people who live with these disorders.  People who struggle with a mental illness are more likely than people who don’t live with mental illnesses to:



But mental illness doesn’t only affect people living with the disorder.  Almost 8.4 million family members provide care to a mentally ill loved one.  This takes about 32 hours every week, which is about as much time as a full time job.


So What Do We Do About It?


The best place to start is by learning about mental illness—what it is, what it isn’t, how to treat it, and how to support those affected by it.  This post breaks down the 10 most common mental illnesses as reported by NIMH and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).



  • Anxiety/Panic Disorders


How many people have it?  Almost 18.1% of adults in the U.S.–40 million people–suffer from the symptoms of an anxiety disorder every year.  However, only 36.9% of those who have anxiety seek treatment.  

What are the symptoms of an anxiety/panic disorder?  The main symptoms of anxiety/panic disorders are almost constant worry and anxiety that feels uncontrollable, but other symptoms vary depending on what type of anxiety/panic disorder someone has. 

What are the types of anxiety/panic disorders?  Anxiety disorders include: 

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 

How do you treat anxiety/panic disorders?  Treatment for anxiety/panic disorders usually include some combination of: 

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Mindfulness-based CBT (MCBT)
  • Antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines 


  1. Personality Disorders

How many people have it?  Experts think 9.1% of the population meets the criteria for a diagnosis of a personality disorder.

What are the symptoms of a personality disorder?  The main symptoms of personality disorders are behavioral, emotional, and thought patterns that deviate greatly from what’s considered normal in an individual’s culture.  So what does this look like? Someone with a personality disorder is probably going to: 

  • have inappropriate or completely extra emotional responses
  • have poor impulse control  
  • rage at others over the smallest things 
  • doing illegal things
  • use others
  • not have empathy
  • have poor emotional boundaries
  • have incredibly low self-esteem
  • have abnormally high self-esteem
  • have a habit of being in explosive relationships

In order for it to be a personality disorder–rather than “a rough patch”–these negative patterns have to be seen in the person for most of their life.

What are the types of personality disorders?

    • Cluster A (Eccentric Type):  
      • Schizotypal Personality Disorder
      • Paranoid Personality Disorder
      • Schizoid Personality Disorder


  • Cluster B (Dramatic Type–the most famous):
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Cluster C (Anxious Type):
  • Dependent Personality Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder



  • How do you treat personality disorders?  Psychiatrists prescribe medications to treat any underlying mood regulation problems.  Most personality disorders are treated with some form of: 
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy 


  1. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

How many people have it?  Between 7.8% and 11% of children ages 4-17 are diagnosed with ADHD any given year.   That translates to between 5,787,600 and 8,162,000 children every year.


What are the symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?  Although most people think of people with ADHD as small children who are bouncing off the walls, the most common symptoms of ADHD also include:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to sit still
  • Restlessness
  • Losing things


What are the types of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V recognizes three types of ADHD:

  • ADHD, combined type
  • ADHD, impulsive/hyperactive type
  • ADHD, inattentive and distractible type  


How do you treat the symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?  Common treatments for ADHD include a combination of: 

  • Talk therapy
  • Life coaching and education
  • Medication


  1. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD/CPTSD)

How many people have it?  Experts believe an estimated 6.8% of the U.S. population will develop some form of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.  That translates to 22,249,600 people.


What are the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD/CPTSD)?  People who have been diagnosed with PTSD or CPTSD experience “flashbacks” of past trauma in the form of:

  • Emotional flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Extreme anxiety or panic
  • Difficulties connecting to others
  • An overwhelming sense of fear


What is the difference between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Post Traumatic stress Disorder?

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
    • “Fight-or-flight” response that happens after the stressful event has stopped.
    • The result of an isolated traumatic event, such as war or an assault.
  • Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD):
    • Partially identified by a person’s constantly negative sense of self.
    • Occurs due to a series of continued traumatic events, such as childhood abuse or neglect. 


How do you treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?  Common treatments for PTSD and CPTSD include: 

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Group therapy
  • Medications to address underlying conditions, such as depression and anxiety


  1. Depression

How many people have it?  An estimated 6.7% of the U.S. population over the age of 18–15.7 million people–lives with depression.


What are the symptoms of depression? The most common symptoms of depression include: 

  • Low mood, lasting longer than 6 weeks
  • Low motivation
  • Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Increased drug or alcohol abuse


What are the differences between men’s and women’s symptoms of depression?

  • Common depression symptoms for men:
    • Fatigue
    • Being easily frustrated or irritable
  • Common depression symptoms for women:
    • Feelings of sadness
    • Feelings of worthlessness
    • Guilt or shame


What are the types of depression?  The DSM V lists the following types of depression:

  • Major depression
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Psychotic Depression
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Situational Depression
  • Atypical Depression


How do you treat depression?  Common treatments for depression include: 

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Psychoeducation groups
  • Antidepressants
  • Various brain stimulation therapies


  1. Bipolar Disorder

How many people have it?  About 2.8% of the U.S. population that sought mental health treatment was diagnosed with some form of bipolar disorder in 2018.  That’s approximately 9,161, 600 people.  NOTE: This number may be low because many people who suffer from bipolar disorder don’t seek treatment.


What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?  People who live with bipolar disorder experience the following:

  • Extreme highs and lows
  • Manic episodes
  • Hypomanic episodes
  • Depressive episodes


What are the symptoms of a manic episode?  Symptoms of manic episodes include: 

  • Increased energy
  • Euphoria
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Insomnia
  • increased sexual behavior
  • Grandiosity
  • Reckless behavior


What are the symptoms of a hypomanic episode?  Hypomania symptoms include: 

  • Mild feelings of mania
  • Feeling abnormally good


What are the symptoms of a depressive episode?  Symptoms of depressive episodes include: 

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Change in appetite
  • Thoughts of suicide


How do you treat bipolar disorder?  Common treatments for bipolar include: 

  • Mood stabilizing or antidepressant medications
  • Brain stimulation therapies
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)  


  1. Eating Disorders

How many people have eating disorders?  Almost  2.7% of individuals who sought treatment were diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2018.  This means 8,834,400 people in the US went to some form of treatment or therapy for an eating disorder.


What are the symptoms of eating disorders?  People who live with eating disorders experience:

  • Body dysmorphia
  • The binge-purge-restrict cycle of behavior
  • Extreme weight loss due to exercise and dieting
  • Social isolation
  • Mood disturbance
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Guilt
  • Preoccupation with diet and exercise


What is the Binge-Purge-Restrict Cycle?  The binge-purge-restrict cycle of behavior consists of three parts:

  • Binging
    • Eating way too much
    • Makes the person feel a lot of guilt, shame, and depression
  • Purging
    • Getting rid of excess calories by:
      • Too much exercise
      • Laxatives
      • Vomiting
  • Restricting
    • Attempt to prevent more binges
    • Trying to control amount of calories eaten
      • Strict dieting

What are the types of eating disorders?  Although anorexia and bulimia are the best-known eating disorders, the DSM currently lists the following eating disorders:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
  • Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)
  • Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED)
  • Orthorexia


How do you treat an eating disorder?  Professionals treat eating disorders with a combination of: 

  • Talk therapy
  • Residential treatment
  • Medications to treat the symptoms of any underlying mental health conditions


  1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

How many people have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?  Almost 2.3% percent of individuals will qualify for a diagnosis of OCD during the course of their lifetime.  That’s about 7,525,600 people in the United States.


What are the symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?  People who live with OCD often experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Rigid, uncontrollable thinking
  • Social isolation
  • Feelings of being “bad” or “a sinner”
  • Preoccupations with counting, checking, or cleaning
  • Compulsive behavior rituals


How do you treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?  Experts treat OCD with a combination of:

Medications for any underlying depression or anxiety

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 
  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)


  1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

How many people have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?  Mental health professionals believe approximately 1.2% of children–1 in 59 children–will qualify for a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  


What are the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?  People diagnosed with some form of ASD experience:

  • Impaired social functioning and skills
  • Limited understanding of social cues
  • Eccentric behaviors
  • Seeming detached or isolated from others
  • Repetitive thoughts or behaviors
  • Restricted interests
  • Poor eye contact
  • Impaired communication/possibly nonverbal
  • Impaired learning


How do you treat Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?  To treat ASD, mental health professionals use a combination of:  

  • Special education classes
  • Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Behavioral management therapy
  • Medication management


  1. Schizophrenia/Psychotic Disorders

How many people have psychotic disorders?  An estimated 1% of the population suffers from a psychotic disorder.  That’s 3,272,000 people in the United States.


What are the symptoms of psychotic disorders?  People who are diagnosed with psychotic disorders experience the following symptoms for longer than six months:

  • Breaks or disruptions in their reality, which come out as: 
    • Religious delusions
    • Persecution delusions
    • Grandiosity 
  • Audio, visual, or tactile (“feeling”) hallucinations
  • Feelings of paranoia or persecution
  • Disordered–or “jumbled”–thoughts and speech


What else do you need to know about psychosis?  Here are some commonly misunderstood things about psychosis:


What are the types of psychotic disorders?  Although schizophrenia is the best-known psychotic disorder, the psychotic disorders listed in the DSM are:

  • Schizoaffective Disorder
  • Schizophreniform Disorder
  • Brief Psychotic Disorder
  • Delusional Disorder
  • Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder
  • Psychotic Disorder Induced by a Medical Condition
  • Schizophrenia


How do you treat psychotic disorders?  Mental health professionals treat psychotic disorders with a combination of:

  • Mood stabilizers or antipsychotic medications
  • Talk therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Case management

As you can see, there’s a lot to unpack here!  But by learning more about mental illnesses and how they are treated, you can help remove the stigma and shame of mental illness so that real healing can occur.

It takes a great deal of courage, self-awareness, and honesty for someone to ask for help.  Once they do, though, they have access to a wealth of resources, coping skills, and knowledge to take control of the symptoms that have caused them so much pain.  The Internet, your college or university’s student counseling clinic, your insurance company, and your county’s crisis line can help you find the treatment that is right for you.  Although mental illness affects millions of people, understanding mental illness and the options available can help those diagnosed with a mental illness live a meaningful, normal life.  

But what about YOU?  

Have you  or a loved one ever dealt with any of the mental illnesses in this article?

Which conditions mentioned were new to you?  Which ones did you already know about?

Were there any symptoms on this list that surprised you?  What’s your experience with them?

What are some myths about these illnesses you want investigated?

Which mental illnesses do you want to hear more about?  Tell us which mental illnesses you want to hear more about and tell us about your experiences in the comments below.  


As always, any information provided here is for entertainment and educational purposes only.  If you need mental health counseling or treatment, please contact your insurance company, local college’s student counseling clinic, or your county’s crisis line.  Help is out there!



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