A psychiatric disorder is a mental illness diagnosed by a mental health professional that greatly disturbs your thinking, moods, and/or behavior and seriously increases your risk of disability, pain, death, or loss of freedom.
In addition, your symptoms must be more severe than expected response to an upsetting event, such as normal grief after the loss of a loved one.
A large number of psychiatric disorders have been identified. Chances are that, whether or not you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, you know something about one or more of the following examples:
Examples of ongoing signs and symptoms of psychiatric disorders include:
A psychiatric disorder may also cause physical symptoms, such as a headache, back pain, or stomach pain. If you’re being evaluated for a psychiatric disorder, tell your doctor about any physical symptoms you’re having, including unexplained aches and pains.
The following list describes the main types (often called classes or categories) of psychiatric disorders.
The many psychiatric disorders in this group usually begin in infancy or childhood, often before a child starts school. Examples include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, and learning disorders.
Psychotic disorders cause detachment from reality. People with these diagnoses experience delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking and speech. Schizophrenia is probably the best known of these illnesses, although detachment from reality can sometimes affect people with other psychiatric disorders.
These include disorders characterized by feelings of extreme sadness and worthlessness, along with reduced interest in previously enjoyable activities. Examples include major depressive disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is more severe than the more widely known premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS is not classified as a psychiatric disorder.
People with these disorders experience repeated and unwanted urges, thoughts, or images (obsessions) and feel driven to taking repeated actions in response to them (compulsions). Examples include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), hoarding disorder, and hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania).
These psychiatric disorders develop during or after stressful or traumatic life events. Examples include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder.
These are disorders in which a person’s sense of self is disrupted, such as dissociative identity disorder and dissociative amnesia.
A person with one of these disorders may have distressing and incapacitating physical symptoms with no clear medical cause. (“Somatic” means “of the body.”) Examples include illness anxiety disorder, somatic symptom disorder (previously known as hypochondriasis), and factitious disorder.
These psychiatric disorders are disturbances related to eating, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
Psychiatric disorders in this group relate to the inappropriate elimination (release) of urine or stool by accident or on purpose. Bedwetting (enuresis) is an example.
These are severe sleep disorders, including insomnia disorder, nightmare disorder, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.
These disorders of sexual response include such diagnoses as premature ejaculation, erectile disorder, and female orgasmic disorder.
These disorders stem from the distress that goes with a person’s stated desire to be a different gender. The diagnostic criteria in this group differ somewhat among children, adolescents, and adults.
People with these disorders show symptoms of difficulty with emotional and behavioral self-control. Examples include kleptomania (repeated stealing) and intermittent explosive disorder.
People with these diagnoses have problems associated with excessive use of alcohol, opioids (for example, oxycodone and morphine), recreational drugs, hallucinogens, and six other types of drugs. This group also includes gambling disorder.
These psychiatric disorders affect people’s ability to think and reason. The disorders in this group include delirium as well as disorders of thinking and reasoning caused by such conditions or diseases as traumatic brain injury or Alzheimer’s disease.
A personality disorder involves a lasting pattern of emotional instability and unhealthy behaviors that seriously disrupt daily living and relationships. Examples include borderline, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorders.
This group includes psychiatric disorders that are due to other medical conditions or that don’t meet all the requirements for any of the other psychiatric disorder groups.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably had a mental health concern from time to time, such as depression following the loss of a job. These concerns are typically time-limited, and eventually, you start to feel better. That’s not true of a psychiatric disorder, in which your symptoms are ongoing and frequently upsetting to you and the people around you. A psychiatric disorder also interferes with your ability to do day-to-day tasks.
When the stress of trying to cope with your symptoms becomes more than you can handle, treatment typically involves a combination of medications and psychotherapy.
Salters-Pedneault K. Types and Symptoms of Common Psychiatric Disorders