Common Mental Health Conditions
Here’s a list of common mental health conditions.
Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder.
Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses that lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry.
These disorders alter how a person processes emotions and behave, also causing physical symptoms. Mild anxiety might be vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety may seriously affect day-to-day living.
Signs And Symptoms
While a number of different diagnoses constitute anxiety disorders, the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) will often include the following:
- restlessness, and a feeling of being “on-edge”
- uncontrollable feelings of worry
- increased irritability
- concentration difficulties
- sleep difficulties, such as problems in falling or staying asleep
While these symptoms might be normal to experience in daily life, people with GAD will experience them to persistent or extreme levels. GAD may present as vague, unsettling worry or a more severe anxiety that disrupts day-to-day living.
The causes of anxiety disorders are complicated. Many might occur at once, some may lead to others, and some might not lead to an anxiety disorder unless another is present.
Possible causes include:
- environmental stressors, such as difficulties at work, relationship problems, or family issues
- genetics, as people who have family members with an anxiety disorder are more likely to experience one themselves
- medical factors, such as the symptoms of a different disease, the effects of a medication, or the stress of an intensive surgery or prolonged recovery
- withdrawal from an illicit substance, the effects of which might intensify the impact of other possible causes
Treatments will consist of a combination of psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and medication.
Alcohol dependence, depression, or other conditions can sometimes have such a strong effect on mental well-being that treating an anxiety disorder must wait until any underlying conditions are brought under control.
In some cases, a person can treat an anxiety disorder at home without clinical supervision. However, this may not be effective for severe or long-term anxiety disorders.
There are several exercises and actions to help a person cope with milder, more focused, or shorter-term anxiety disorders, including:
- Stress management: Learning to manage stress can help limit potential triggers. Organize any upcoming pressures and deadlines, compile lists to make daunting tasks more manageable, and commit to taking time off from study or work.
- Relaxation techniques: Simple activities can help soothe the mental and physical signs of anxiety. These techniques include meditation, deep breathing exercises, long baths, resting in the dark, and yoga.
- Exercises to replace negative thoughts with positive ones: Make a list of the negative thoughts that might be cycling as a result of anxiety, and write down another list next to it containing positive, believable thoughts to replace them. Creating a mental image of successfully facing and conquering a specific fear can also provide benefits if anxiety symptoms relate to a specific cause, such as in a phobia.
- Support network: Talk with familiar people who are supportive, such as a family member or friend. Support group services may also be available in the local area and online.
- Exercise: Physical exertion can improve self-image and release chemicals in the brain that trigger positive feelings.
There are ways to reduce the risk of anxiety disorders. Remember that anxious feelings are a natural factor of daily life, and experiencing them does not always indicate the presence of a mental health disorder.
Take the following steps to help moderate anxious emotions:
- Reduce intake of caffeine, tea, cola, and chocolate.
- Before using over-the-counter (OTC) or herbal remedies, check with a doctor or pharmacist for any chemicals that may make anxiety symptoms worse.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Keep a regular sleep pattern.
- Avoid alcohol and other recreational drugs.
- Invest in healthy safe relationships
Depression is a mood disorder that involves a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It is different from the mood fluctuations that people regularly experience as a part of life.
Major life events, such as bereavement or the loss of a job, can lead to depression. However, doctors only consider feelings of grief to be part of depression if they persist.
Depression is an ongoing problem, not a passing one. It consists of episodes during which the symptoms last for at least 2 weeks. Depression can last for several weeks, months, or years.
Sadness, feeling down, and having a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities are familiar feelings for all of us. But if they persist and affect our lives substantially, the issue may be depression.
Depression is the main cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It can affect adults, adolescents, and children. Depression is a among the common mental mental health conditions affecting more than 264 million people worldwide.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of depression can include:
- a depressed mood
- reduced interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- a loss of sexual desire
- changes in appetite
- unintentional weight loss or gain
- sleeping too much or too little
- agitation, restlessness, and pacing up and down
- slowed movement and speech
- fatigue or loss of energy
- feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or an attempt at suicide
The medical community does not fully understand the causes of depression. There are many possible causes, and sometimes, various factors combine to trigger symptoms.
Factors that are likely to play a role include:
- genetic features
- changes in the brain’s neurotransmitter levels
- environmental factors
- psychological and social factors
- additional conditions, such as bipolar disorder
Depression is treatable, and managing symptoms usually involves three components:
Support: This can range from discussing practical solutions and possible causes to educating family members.
Psychotherapy: Also known as talking therapy, some options include one-to-one counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Drug treatment: A doctor may prescribe antidepressants.
Some people have a higher risk of depression than others.
Risk factors include:
- experiencing certain life events, such as bereavement, work issues, changes in relationships, financial problems, and medical concerns
- experiencing acute stress
- having a lack of successful coping strategies
- having a close relative with depression
- having a sustained head injury
- having had a previous episode of major depression
- having a chronic condition, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or cardiovascular disease
- living with persistent pain
A person with bipolar disorder will experience changes in mood, energy, and activity levels that can make day-to-day living difficult.
Bipolar disorder can cause severe disruption to a person’s life, but the impact varies between individuals. With appropriate treatment and support, many people with this condition live a full and productive life.
Most people experience mood changes at some time, but those related to bipolar disorder are more intense than regular mood changes, and other symptoms can occur. Some people experience psychosis, which can include delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia.
Between episodes, the person’s mood may be stable for months or years, especially if they are following a treatment plan.
Treatment enables many people with bipolar disorder to work, study, and live a full and productive life. However, when treatment helps a person feel better, they may stop taking their medication. Then, the symptoms can return.
46 million people were living with bipolar disorder by 2017, making it one of the most common mental health conditions.
Signs and symptoms
According to the International Bipolar Association, symptoms vary between individuals. For some people, an episode can last for several months or years. Others may experience “highs” and “lows” at the same time or in quick succession.
In “rapid cycling” bipolar disorder, the person will have four or more episodes within a year.
Mania or hypomania
Hypomania and mania are elevated moods. Mania is more intense than hypomania.
Symptoms can include:
- impaired judgment
- feeing wired
- sleeping little but not feeling tired
- a sense of distraction or boredom
- missing work or school
- underperforming at work or school
- feeling able to do anything
- being sociable and forthcoming, sometimes aggressively so
- engaging in risky behavior
- increased libido
- feeling exhilarated or euphoric
- having high levels of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-importance
- talking a lot and rapidly
- jumping from one topic to another in conversation
- having “racing” thoughts that come and go quickly, and bizarre ideas that the person may act upon
- denying or not realizing that anything is wrong
Some people with bipolar disorder may spend a lot of money, use recreational drugs, consume alcohol, and participate in dangerous and inappropriate activities.
If a “high” or “low” episode is very intense, the person may experience psychosis. They may have trouble differentiating between fantasy and reality.
According to the International Bipolar Foundation, psychosis symptoms during a high include hallucinations, which involve hearing or seeing things that are not there and delusions, which are false but strongly felt beliefs. A person who experiences delusions may believe they are famous, have high-ranking social connections, or have special powers.
During a depressive or “low” episode, they may believe they have committed a crime or are ruined and penniless.
It is possible to manage all these symptoms with appropriate treatment.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar I disorder
For a diagnosis of bipolar I disorder:
- The individual must have experienced at least one manic episode.
- The person may have had a previous major depressive episode.
- The doctor must rule out other disorders, such as schizophrenia and delusional disorder.
Bipolar II disorder
Bipolar II disorder involves periods of hypomania, but depression is often the dominant state.
For a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder, a person must have had:
- one or more episodes of depression
- at least one hypomanic episode
- no other diagnosis to explain the mood shifts
A person with hypomania may feel good and function well, but their mood will not be stable, and there is a risk that depression will follow.
Treatment aims to stabilize the person’s mood and reduce the severity of symptoms. The goal is to help the person function effectively in daily life.
Treatment involves a combination of therapies, including:
- physical intervention
- lifestyle remedies
It can take time to get a correct diagnosis and find a suitable treatment, as individuals react differently, and symptoms vary widely.
Psychotherapy and counseling
Psychotherapy can help relieve symptoms and equip a person to manage bipolar disorder.
Through cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) and other approaches, the individual can learn to:
- recognize and take steps to manage key triggers, such as stress
- identify early symptoms of an episode and take steps to manage it
- work on factors that help maintain a stable mood for as long as possible
- engage the help of family members, teachers, and colleagues
These steps can help a person maintain positive relationships at home and work. For children and teens with bipolar disorder, a doctor may recommend family therapy. Common mental health conditions are less likely to be severe to the patient if they have social support.
Bipolar disorder appears to result from a combination of factors.
Genetic factors: Bipolar disorder is more common in those who have a family member with the condition. A number of genetic features may be involved.
Biological traits: Research suggests that imbalances in neurotransmitters or hormones that affect the brain may play a role.
Environmental factors: Life events, such as abuse, mental stress, a “significant loss,” or another traumatic event, may trigger an initial episode in a susceptible person.