Symptoms and Types of Psychiatric Disorders

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:

  • Confused thinking
  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Deep, ongoing sadness, or feeling “down”
  • Inability to manage day-to-day stress and problems
  • Trouble understanding situations and other people
  • Withdrawal from others and from activities you used to enjoy
  • Extreme tiredness, low energy, or sleeping problems
  • Strong feelings of fear, worry, or guilt
  • Extreme mood changes, from highs to lows, often shifting very quickly
  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia (the belief that others are “out to get you,”) or hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there)
  • Marked changes in eating habits
  • A change in sex drive
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Excessive anger, hostility, and/or violence
  • Suicidal thinking

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.

  • Neurodevelopmental 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.

  • Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic 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.

  • Bipolar and Related Disorders
  • This group includes disorders in which episodes of mania (periods of excessive excitement, activity, and energy) alternate with periods of depression.
  • Depressive 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.

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Anxiety involves focusing on bad or dangerous things that could happen and worrying fearfully and excessively about them. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and phobias (extreme or irrational fears of specific things, such as heights).
  • Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders

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).

  • Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders

These psychiatric disorders develop during or after stressful or traumatic life events. Examples include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder.

  • Dissociative Disorders

These are disorders in which a person’s sense of self is disrupted, such as dissociative identity disorder and dissociative amnesia.

  • Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders

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.

  • Feeding and Eating Disorders

These psychiatric disorders are disturbances related to eating, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

  • Elimination Disorders

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.

  • Sleep-Wake Disorders

These are severe sleep disorders, including insomnia disorder, nightmare disorder, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.

  • Sexual Dysfunctions

These disorders of sexual response include such diagnoses as premature ejaculation, erectile disorder, and female orgasmic disorder.

  • Gender Dysphoria

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.

  • Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders

People with these disorders show symptoms of difficulty with emotional and behavioral self-control. Examples include kleptomania (repeated stealing) and intermittent explosive disorder.

  • Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders

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.

  • Neurocognitive Disorders

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.

  • Personality Disorders

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.

  • Other Mental 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


Psychoterapeuta Wrocław
Prof. dr hab. n. med.
Donata Kurpas

Gabinet psychoterapii we Wrocławiu
Stefana Jaracza 69/1
50-305 Wrocław

Psychotherapist Prof. Donata Kurpas

Psychotherapy training
2006 – completed post-graduate studies in Fundamentals of Psychotherapy – the first part of a 4-year education; Jagiellonian University, Medical Center of Postgraduate Education of the Jagiellonian University (Cracow, Poland)
from 2007 – member of the Polish Psychiatric Association, Psychotherapy Section
2008 – detailed post-graduate studies in Psychotherapy – the second part of a 4-year education; Jagiellonian University, Medical Center of Postgraduate Education of the Jagiellonian University (Cracow, Poland)

Clinical experience
2005-2008 – psychotherapy training within the self-group (125 hours) – Dr. Ewa Niezgoda, Cracow (Poland)
from 2007 – individual and group psychotherapy office: patients with psychosomatic disorders, personality disorders, anxiety and / or depression disorders, eating disorders, couples therapy
2008 – training camp (60 hours) – as part of training in psychotherapy
2008– interpersonal training (40 hours) – Dr. Halina Nałęcz-Nieniewska, Warsaw (Poland)
2008-2010 – individual psychotherapy training (98 sessions) – Katarzyna Ćwirko-Kusztan, MSc, Wrocław (Poland)
2016 – internship at the Daytime Ward of Neurosis Treatment at the Psychiatry Clinic of the Medical University in Wrocław, Poland (240 hours)
2018 – internship at the Psychiatric Day Ward (Feniks – Sosnowiec, Poland) – group psychotherapy of psychotic and affective disorders (120 hours)