Mental Disorders: MedlinePlus


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What are mental disorders?

Mental disorders (or mental illnesses) are conditions that affect your thinking, feeling, mood, and behavior. They may be occasional or long-lasting (chronic). They can affect your ability to relate to others and function each day.

What are some types of mental disorders?

There are many different types of mental disorders. Some common ones include

  • Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias
  • Depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia

What causes mental disorders?

There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness, such as

  • Your genes and family history
  • Your life experiences, such as stress or a history of abuse, especially if they happen in childhood
  • Biological factors such as chemical imbalances in the brain
  • A traumatic brain injury
  • A mother’s exposure to viruses or toxic chemicals while pregnant
  • Use of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Having a serious medical condition like cancer
  • Having few friends, and feeling lonely or isolated

Mental disorders are not caused by character flaws. They have nothing to do with being lazy or weak.

Who is at risk for mental disorders?

Mental disorders are common. More than half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some time in their life.

How are mental disorders diagnosed?

The steps to getting a diagnosis include

  • A medical history
  • A physical exam and possibly lab tests, if your provider thinks that other medical conditions could be causing your symptoms
  • A psychological evaluation. You will answer questions about your thinking, feelings, and behaviors.

What are the treatments for mental disorders?

Treatment depends on which mental disorder you have and how serious it is. You and your provider will work on a treatment plan just for you. It usually involves some type of therapy. You may also take medicines. Some people also need social support and education on managing their condition.

In some cases, you may need more intensive treatment. You may need to go to a psychiatric hospital. This could be because your mental illness is severe. Or it could be because you are at risk of hurting yourself or someone else. In the hospital, you will get counseling, group discussions, and activities with mental health professionals and other patients.

  • Mental Illness (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Warning Signs of Mental Illnesses (American Psychiatric Association) – PDF
  • Mental Health Screening From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • Mental Health: What’s Normal, What’s Not? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Brain Stimulation Therapies From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • How to Choose a Psychologist (American Psychological Association)
  • Integrated Care From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Meditation From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • Mental Health Medications From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Mental Health Providers: Credentials, Services Offered and What to Expect (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Psychotherapies From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Technology and the Future of Mental Health Treatment From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Therapy and Counseling (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
  • What Is Psychiatry? Video (American Psychiatric Association)
  • Mental Illness and the Family: Recognizing the Warning Signs & How to Cope (Mental Health America)
  • What Individuals in Recovery Need to Know About Wellness (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Also in Spanish
  • Functional Movement Disorder From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
  • Mental Health: Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Psychiatric Advance Directives: Getting Started (National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives)
  • Rural Mental Health (Rural Health Information Hub)
  • Take Action against Hepatitis C: For People in Recovery from Mental Illness or Addiction (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) – PDF
  • Tardive Dyskinesia (NAMI)
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Dissociative Disorders (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Factitious Disorder (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Hypochondria (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Kleptomania (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Normal Stress or Adjustment Disorder? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
  • Genetics Home Reference: Perry syndrome From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • Mental Health Screening Center (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)
  • Behavioral Health Equity (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
  • FastStats: Mental Health (National Center for Health Statistics)
  • Learn About Mental Health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Mental Illness Statistics From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
  • Clinical Research Trials and You: Questions and Answers From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health) Also in Spanish
  • Clinical Trials – Information for Participants From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • ClinicalTrials.gov: Mental Disorders From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • Mental health disorders — see more articles
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • APA District Branch / State Association Directory (American Psychiatric Association)
  • Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
  • Find Your Local NAMI (NAMI)
  • Help for Mental Illnesses From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • NAMI
  • National Institute of Mental Health From the National Institutes of Health
  • Psychologist Locator (American Psychological Association)
  • State by State Info (Psychiatric Advance Directives) (National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Women and Mental Health From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Older Adult Mental Health From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • Older Adults and Mental Health From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Mental Health)

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