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The 16 most common mental disorders

The 16 most common mental disorders

January 22, 2022

Mental disorders are diagnosed regularly in our day, and everyone knows to a lesser or greater extent what depression, anxiety disorder, bulimia means , etc. However, some are more frequent than others, which makes those that are more widespread deserve an extra degree of attention.

Psychopathologies affect a large number of people. In fact, experts say that one in three people suffer or suffer some type of mental disorder during his life.

Mental disorders that affect more people

But, what are the most common disorders? What are those disorders that affect a greater number of people?


Next I present you A brief explanation of the most frequent mental disorders.

1. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a normal reaction of people in situations of stress and uncertainty. Now, a anxiety disorder it is diagnosed when several anxious symptoms cause anguish or some degree of functional deterioration in the life of the individual who suffers it. A person with an anxiety disorder may find it difficult to function in different areas of their life: social and family relationships, work, school, etc. There are different types of anxiety disorders:

1.1. Panic attack

A panic attack is the sudden and intense appearance of fear or terror, often associated with feelings of imminent death. Symptoms include shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain and discomfort.


1.2. Phobic disorders

Many people admit that they are afraid of snakes or spiders, but they can tolerate that fear. Individuals who suffer from a phobia, on the other hand, are not able to tolerate that fear. They experience an irrational fear when faced with the phobic stimulus, whether it is an object, an animal or a situation, and this usually ends in avoidance behavior.

There are different phobic stimuli that unleash this irrational fear: flying with an airplane, driving a vehicle, elevators, clowns, dentists, blood, storms, etc. Some of the most common are:

1.2.1. Social phobia

Social phobia is a very common anxiety disorder, and should not be confused with shyness. It is a strong irrational fear towards situations of social interaction, because the person suffering from this disorder feels extreme anxiety when being judged by others, being the center of attention, by the idea of ​​being criticized or humiliated by other individuals and, even, by talk on the phone with other people. Therefore, he is unable to make presentations in public, eat in restaurants or in front of someone, go to social events, meet new people ...


1.2.2. Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia, usually, is defined as an irrational fear of open spaces, such as large avenues, parks or natural environments. But this definition is not entirely true. The phobic stimulus is not parks or large avenues, but the situation of having an anxiety attack in these places, where it can be difficult or shameful to escape, or where it is not possible to receive help.

1.3. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder manifests when the person has been exposed to a traumatic situation that has caused the individual a stressful psychological experience , which can be disabling. Symptoms include: nightmares, feelings of anger, irritability or emotional fatigue, detachment from others, etc., when the person relives the traumatic event.

Frequently, the person will try to avoid situations or activities that bring back memories of the event that caused the trauma.

1.4. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition in which the individual experiences intrusive thoughts, ideas or images . It is an anxiety disorder, and therefore is characterized by being associated with feelings of fear, anguish and continued stress in such a way that it is a problem for the day to day and negatively affects the quality of life of the person.

The thoughts that cause discomfort (obsessions), cause the person to perform certain rituals or actions (compulsions) to reduce anxiety and feel better.

Obsessions include: fear of becoming contaminated, feelings of doubt (for example, Will I have turned off the gas?), thoughts of hurting someone, thoughts that go against the religious beliefs of the person, among others. Compulsions include: checking, counting, washing, repeatedly organizing things, and so on.

1.5. Generalized anxiety disorder

Worrying from time to time is normal behavior, but when worrying and feeling anxiety continuously affects and interferes with the normality of an individual's life it is possible that that person suffers the Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Therefore, the disorder is characterized by chronic worry and anxiety. It's as if there's always something to worry about: problems in school, work, or a relationship, having an accident when leaving home, and so on. Some of the symptoms are: nausea, fatigue, muscle tension, concentration problems, sleep problems, and more.

2. Mood Disorders

There are different types of mood disorders or affective disorders and, as the name suggests, its main underlying characteristic would be an alteration of the mood of the individual . The most common are the following:

2.1. Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder can affect how a person feels, thinks and acts. It is characterized by Exaggerated changes in mood, from mania to major depression . Therefore, it goes beyond simple mood swings, that is, emotional instability: in fact, it affects many areas of life, and besides being one of the most common disorders, it is frequent to occur along with obesity . Cycles of bipolar disorder last for days, weeks or months, and seriously harm the work and social relationships of the person who suffers.

Bipolar disorder can rarely be treated without medication, as it is necessary to stabilize the patient's mood. During episodes of mania, the person can even quit his job, increase his debts, and feel full of energy despite sleeping only two hours a day. During depressive episodes, the same person may not even get out of bed. There are different types of bipolar disorder, and, in addition, there is a mild version of this disorder, called cyclothymia.

2.2. Depressive disorder

Many people feel depressed at some point in their lives. Feelings of discouragement, frustration and even despair are normal in the face of disappointment and may last several days before disappearing gradually. Now, for some people, These feelings can last for months and years, causing serious problems in your day to day .

The depression It is a serious and debilitating psychopathology, and it affects how an individual feels, thinks and acts. It can cause both physical and psychological symptoms. For example: problems of intake, sleep problems, discomfort, fatigue, etc.

To know more about the types of depression you can visit our article:

  • "Are there several types of depression?"

3. Eating Disorders

There are different types of eating disorders. The most common are those that follow:

3.1. Nervous Anorexia

Anorexia is characterized by an obsession to control the amount of food consumed . One of its most characteristic symptoms is the distortion of the body image. People suffering from anorexia restrict the intake of food by dieting, fasting and even excessive physical exercise. They almost do not eat, and the little they eat causes an intense feeling of discomfort.

3.2. Nervous Bulimia

Bulimia is a disorder of eating behavior that is characterized by abnormal feeding patterns, with episodes of massive food intake followed by maneuvers that seek to eliminate those calories (induce vomiting, consume laxatives, etc.). After these episodes, the usual thing is that the subject feels sad, in a bad mood and has feelings of self-pity.

Bulimia nervosa, in addition to being one of the most common disorders, is associated with alterations in the brain. Among them is the degradation of the white matter (which is where the thick sets of neuronal axons pass) in the corona radiata, which is related, among other things, to the processing of the flavors.

3.3. Binge eating disorder

Binge eating disorder is a serious disorder in which the individual who suffers it frequently consumes large amounts of food and he feels he has lost control during the binge. After overeating, severe anxiety or worry about weight usually appears.

4. Psychotic disorders

The psychotic disorders they are serious psychopathologies in which people lose touch with reality . Two of the main symptoms are delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are false beliefs, such as the idea that someone is following. Hallucinations are false perceptions, such as listening, seeing or feeling something that does not exist.

Unlike delusions, which are erroneous beliefs of reality about an existing fact or object, that is, a distortion of an external stimulus, hallucinations are totally invented by the mind and are not the product of the distortion of any object present , something is perceived without taking external stimuli into account. For example, hear voices coming from a socket. The most common psychotic disorders are:

4.1. Delirious disorder

The delusional disorder or paranoia is a psychotic disorder characterized by one or several delusional ideas. That is, these people are totally convinced of things that are not true. For example, someone chases them to hurt them.

4.2. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is another psychotic disorder, but in this case, the person suffers hallucinations and disturbing thoughts that isolates him from social activity . Schizophrenia is a very serious pathology, and although there is no cure, there are effective treatments so that patients with this disorder can enjoy their lives.

5. Personality disorders

A personality disorder it's a rigid and permanent pattern in the behavior of a person that generates discomfort or difficulties in their relationships and their environment . Personality disorders start in adolescence or early adulthood. The most frequent are:

5.1. Personality Limit Disorder (BPD)

Borderline personality disorder or borderline it is characterized because the people who suffer it they have a weak and changing personality, and they doubt everything . The moments of calm can become, instantly and without warning, moments of anger, anxiety or despair. These individuals live their emotions to the fullest, and love relationships are intense, as they usually idolize the other person to the extreme.

Some of its symptoms are: intense anger and inability to control it, frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, real or imaginary, alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation in interpersonal relationships, markedly unstable self-image, and chronic feelings of emptiness.

5.2. Antisocial disorder (TASP)

The individual who suffers from this disorder (badly known with labels such as psychopathy or sociopathy) is characterized by tendency not to relate in society, avoiding any interaction . The different symptoms and behaviors that characterize the TASP include: robbery, aggressiveness, tendency to loneliness, violence, lies ... In addition, people affected by the TASP tend to be shy, depressed and have social anxiety. This last point is due to their fear of being rejected. Despite this, psychological therapy is very effective in managing the disadvantages of antisocial disorder.

Bibliographic references:

  • Metter, L. (2013). White matter integrity is reduced in bulimia nervosa. The international journal of eating disorders, 46 (3), pp. 264-273.
  • Veale, D. (2014). Obsessive-compulsive disorder.British Medical Journal, 348, 348: g2183.
  • Weeks, J. (2013). Gaze avoidance in social anxiety disorder. Depression and anxiety, 30 (8), pp. 749 -756.
  • Zhao, Z. (2016). The potential association between obesity and bipolar disorder: A meta-analysis. Journal of affective disorders, 202, pp. 120 -123.

    Psychological Disorders: Crash Course Psychology #28 (January 2022).


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