The 18 types of mental illness

We know of a wide variety of mental illnesses of very different types. Although each disorder has its own characteristics that distinguish them from each other, in many cases they have some commonalities, such as etiology or symptoms, which allow them to be grouped into specific categories and can be classified. in different types.

This type of nosological classification is used by various professionals in the health field in order to know and work on the different types of disorders. For that, in this article we will talk about the main types of mental illness.

Types of mental illness

Classifying the different types of mental illness is a complex task that requires extensive research. Throughout history, various associations and groups of experts have attempted to classify them, with varying degrees of acceptance by the scientific community. These categorizations make it possible to organize theoretical knowledge in a more understandable way, although there is a risk of ignoring or separating specific aspects that could be closely related.

Then a brief description of most basic typologies of mental illness is provided that the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-V offers. Although this is not the only classification that exists, given that organizations such as the WHO have their own system with regard to ICD-10 (especially in Chapter F, which details the various mental disorders), the system classification and diagnostic criteria tend to be very similar.

The list here is just one of the possible classifications of the types of mental illnesses that have been practiced, and the main groupings can vary widely depending on who is performing them and producing changes on controversial occasions compared to versions. previous ones.

1. Neurodevelopmental disorders

Mental illnesses related to neurodevelopmental alterations form a type of mental illness characterized by the presence of a series of deficits and difficulties in different skills and abilities that manifest during the development of maturation of the person, appearing as the first symptoms during childhood.

These difficulties are a setback due both to the difficulty itself and to the possible slowdown in maturation and the short and long term effects it can have on vital aspects of the person. In this category we can find difficulties such as intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD or learning, communication or motor disabilities.

2. Schizophrenia spectrum disorders and other psychotic disorders

The study of psychotic disorders has been a fundamental pillar of psychology and research on mental illness.

This type of disease has a common symptomatology, and is the presence of both positive symptoms, that is, some aspects are added or exaggerated to the normative behavior, as well as negative, in which the subject’s capacity decreases and gets poorer.

Among the most well-known positive symptoms are the presence of perceptual hallucinations and cognitive delusions of various types, while among the negative symptoms are common anhedonia, speech impoverishment and allergies. On the other hand, schizophrenia stands out especially in this type of disorder, but we can also find a schizoaffective disorder, a delusional disorder.

3. Bipolar disorder and related disorders

Bipolar disorder is a type of mental illness characterized by the alternation between two opposing emotional poles, mania (or hypomania if symptoms are minor) and depression.

This alternation produces severe emotional wear and tear in the patient, which passes from a state of euphoria and a very high level of energy to a situation of sadness, demotivation and despair. In addition to bipolar disorder and their different subtypes, we can find other disorders in this category, such as cyclothymic disorder.

4. Depressive disorders

Major depression is one of the most prevalent psychological disorders in the world, being the most prominent disorder in the category of depressive disorders.

The basic characteristics of this type of mental illness are the presence of a state of pathological and persistent sadness accompanied by anhedonia or lack of pleasure and / or apathy. It is common to experience great passivity at a vital level due to lack of motivation and hopelessness. In fact, more than the sadness that characterizes depressive disorders is the lack of initiative and interest, which is often reflected in a symptom known as abulia.

In addition to major depressive disorder, other types of pathologies such as dysthymia, postpartum depression and even PMS can be found.

5. Anxiety disorders

The most common type of mental disorder in consultation and in the general population, anxiety disorders can be identified due to the high level of psychophysiological activation that they cause with the presence of a strong negative effect or discomfort.

It is common for these characteristics to be accompanied by a strong attempt to avoid things or situations that cause anxiety, which can be very limiting disorders in daily life. This class of mental disorders includes, but is not limited to, panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia), generalized anxiety disorder, and different types of phobias (social, specific, etc.).

On the other hand, it should be noted that it is possible to develop phobias in the face of almost any stimulus or idea as long as certain conditions are met.

6. Obsessive-compulsive and related disorder

This type of illness in the OCD environment is characterized by the presence of a rigid and inflexible behavioral profile, the presence of doubts and a certain level of perfectionism. But the most distinctive and characteristic of this category is the presence of obsessions, intrusive and repetitive ideas which are recognized as their own and generally absurd by the subject himself.

These ideas generate strong anxiety and may or may not be accompanied by compulsions or stereotypical actions to reduce that anxiety (although they usually do not have a logical relationship to why a particular relationship is overdone). Because the symptoms are mainly due to anxiety, they were previously considered anxiety disorders, but their differential characteristics have separated them from it.

The quintessential mental disorder in this category is obsessive-compulsive disorder. Body dysmorphic disorder or trichotillomania are disorders that in the latest version of the DSM were also included in this category, although in the past they were classified as dissociative disorder and impulse control disorder, respectively. This is due to presence of obsessive-type thinking (More precisely with an area of ​​the body) and the presence of a specific compulsion in the presence of anxiety (tearing of the hair).

7. Trauma and other stress-related disorders

This type of mental disorder is based on the experience of certain life circumstances, or on the presence or absence of a specific stressor, which, being experienced in an extremely aversive manner by the person, causes the subject to behave different from the one I would have. if I had not experienced these situations, and it produces a lot of discomfort in the form of a crisis.

The most characteristic disorder of this type of psychopathology is post-traumatic stress disorder, which is particularly common in people who have lived through war conflicts.

8. Dissociative disorders

Certain vital circumstances cause the mind to react abnormally, causing a dissociation of its basic mechanisms and processes, such as memory or identity. Once one of two types of mental illness considered typical of hysteria, these disorders include dissociative amnesia, depersonalization, or multiple personality disorder.

9. Disorder due to somatic symptoms and associated disorders

The other and main element considered a symptom of hysteria, the presence of disorders of somatic symptoms. The main characteristic of this type of mental illness is the presence of physical symptoms without there being any physiological cause for it, the physical symptoms being the product of one’s own mind. Highlights include somatoform disorder (now due to somatic symptoms), conversion disorder or hypochondria.

10. Eating disorders

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are mental disorders that we often hear about. These two types of mental illnesses are two of the main eating disorders known for the presence of abnormal eating habits.

While in the two examples cited, these models are characterized by a some distortion of body image and the presence of an intense fear of gaining weight, of rejecting the consumption of food, or of performing behaviors that force the elimination of calories, does not occur in the same way in all mental illnesses in this category, in which also includes itching or eating non-nutrients (eg gypsum) or eating too much due to anxiety or binge eating.

11. Excretion disorders

Food and nutrition provide essential nutrients for the body to function, but at some point the leftovers have to be expelled from the body.

In the case of people with excretion disorders, this expulsion occurs in inappropriate and uncontrolled circumstances, sometimes due to anxiety. In this aspect highlight enuresis and encopresis, Wherein urine or feces are respectively excreted.

12. Sleep-wake disorders

Sleep problems are also very common in societies like ours. These problems can be sleep deprivation or insomnia or too much sleep or hypersomnia. In both cases, they cause problems with fatigue, demotivation and in some cases problems with memory and attention.

In addition, rare behaviors during sleep called parasomnias may appear. Examples of this category are disorders such as nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking, or Kleine-Levin syndrome. along with insomnia primary hypersomnia.

13. Sexual dysfunctions

Although it is still a very calm subject and considered taboo, there is a wide variety of sexual problems. Sexual dysfunctions are composed of those disorders which alter, prevent or hinder the realization of the different phases of the human sexual response, appearing mainly at the level of desire, arousal or orgasm.

Premature ejaculation, erection problems, anorgasmia or inhibited sexual desire are some of the disorders of this class for which he is the most consulted clinically.

14. Destructive Impulse Control and Behavior Disorders

This classification refers to the presence of a sudden impulse characterized by a high level of activation and anxiety which the individual is unable or has serious difficulty resisting, through deep gratification and well-being that he receives with his conduct. An example is intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania, or arsonism.

15. Substance use disorders and addiction disorders

Consumption and abuse of psychoactive substances can cause serious problems in the body. This type of problem includes dependence, dependence, intoxication and abstinence from very different types of substances, whether they are stimulants, depressants or disruptors.

16. Neurocognitive disorders

Neurocognitive disorders refer to that group of disorders that cause impaired consciousness or higher mental processes due to a neuronal disturbance. Confusion syndromes, delirium or neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia fall under this classification.

17. Paraphilic traps

The so-called paraphilias are a type of mental illness characterized by the presence of intense and persistent fantasies in which the object of sexual desire is abnormal, usually having a compulsive fixation in this type of stimuli that interfere with life or cause discomfort.

It generally refers to situations in which the object of desire is an inanimate object or being, a non-consenting being, or the suffering or humiliation of one of the components. Some of these disorders include voyeurism, exhibitionism, sexual sadism, masochism, or pedophilia.

18. Personality disorders

Each of us has our own personality, developed throughout our life on the basis of our experiences, in which it is possible to observe the tendency to respond in certain ways to stimuli from the environment. The kind of behaviors we usually do and do, how we analyze and observe the world and even our own identity are mediated by personality.

This type of mental illness involves the presence of a personality that involves a high level of suffering to the person who has it or greatly limits their life and participation in the world. Borderline Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Obsessive Personality Disorder, or Avoidant Personality Disorder are included in this classification.

Bibliographical references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.

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