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Understanding Common Mental Health Disorders

A anxious male sitting on a couch with his hand together while consulting a therapist

Mental health disorders are a wide range of conditions that affect your thinking, mood, and behavior. You may be living with a mental health disorder without realizing it. There are signs and symptoms to pay attention to in deciding whether to seek help for common mental health disorders.

What is a Mental Health Disorder?

A mental health disorder, also called a “mental illness” or “psychiatric disability,” is a condition that affects your thinking, feeling, mood, or behavior. Many people experience mental health concerns on occasion. These concerns become disorders when ongoing symptoms affect your ability to function and relate to others.

Causes of Mental Health Disorders

About one-in-five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness within their lifetime. 

Factors that contribute to mental health disorders include:

  • Genetics and family history
  • Biological factors 
  • Life experiences
  • Environment
  • Daily habits
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Other serious medical conditions

Who is Most at Risk?

Although mental health disorders are common, they vary in severity. About one-in-25 adults experience a serious mental illness. Different groups of people experience these serious emotional illnesses at varying rates. 

People more likely to experience mental health disorders include:

  • Women
  • People ages 18 to 25
  • People of mixed-race backgrounds   

Common Mental Health Disorders and Their Symptoms

There are almost 300 diagnosable mental illnesses. We outlined some of the most common ones below. Overall, the key is to seek mental health services if you don’t feel emotionally well. 

Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the most common diagnosis for patients facing mental illness. Anxiety is the feeling of fear, dread, or uneasiness as a reaction to stress. People can experience a regular level of anxiety in stressful situations. But if your response to a stressful situation is excessive or uncontrollable, you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. 

Symptoms include:

  • Constant worry 
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unexplained physical aches and pains
  • Changes in behavior
  • Sleep disturbances
  • An impending sense of doom

The symptoms can interfere with daily tasks and chores. If symptoms do not go away or worsen, they may affect job performance and relationships.

Depression (Mood Disorder)


A female sitting on a couch who looks depressed being given comfort by another female as she holds it on the shoulder


Major Depressive Disorder, or clinical depression, is the second most common mental illness among U.S. adults. Clinical depression is more than feeling sad. It causes feelings of sadness or hopelessness that last for two weeks or more. 

Symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Feeling sad or “empty”
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Being unable to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression is a disorder of the brain that can be serious if left unaddressed. Some people experience seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Depression can also be a sign of bipolar disorder, which is a disorder that causes manic highs and extreme lows in personality. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, seek treatment.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that causes sudden feelings of terror when there is no immediate danger. These episodes are panic attacks. Because these attacks happen unexpectedly, you may avoid situations where they’re likely to occur. Symptoms may mirror those of the body’s “fight-or-flight” response to dangerous threats and trigger the release of adrenaline and cortisol. 

Symptoms include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Hyperventilating or shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Tingling or numbness in hands
  • Nausea, weakness, or dizziness
  • Fear of losing control

Panic attacks can happen any time and without warning. Extreme stress may trigger them. If this form of anxiety attack happens frequently, then you may have panic disorder. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health disorder that you may develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event or ongoing traumatic happenings. These events may be life-threatening but sometimes may not be dangerous. Similar to panic attacks, your body has a “fight-or-flight” to these initial events. In time, most people recover from these bodily changes naturally, but people with PTSD do not. They feel the stress or fear of the event long after it ends. 

Symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • Easily startled
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Angry outbursts
  • Avoiding people, places, or things associated with the event
  • Trouble remembering important things about the event
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Trouble concentrating

PTSD symptoms may start immediately following the event but may not appear until years later. They may also come and go. 

Addictive Disorder

Also sometimes referred to as “impulse control disorders,” addictive disorders occur when you can’t resist urges to perform acts that may be harmful to you or others. Addiction develops over time and is a chronic and relapsing disorder. 

People with addictive disorder may:

  • Get high or intoxicated regularly
  • Use substances to avoid coping with stressful emotions
  • Lie about their addiction
  • Avoid loved ones
  • Pressure others to join them in their habits
  • Give up activities they enjoyed

Substance-related addictive disorders range from substance use to chemical dependence. Usually, there is an underlying, untreated mental health disorder that leads to alcohol or drug use problems. Therefore, the symptoms may look the same as those related to the disorders listed above. The longer you use substances, the more likely you are to become dependent on them. 

Hypersexuality disorder occurs when you constantly think about sex and act on those urges regardless of consequences. Some people with this disorder seek sex with others. Others may prefer to watch pornography, leading to masturbation and orgasm. These disorders create the same brain responses as substance use.

How ILC Can Help

At Integrative Life Center, we treat clients who experience mental health issues, substance use disorders, or both. Our evidence-based therapies and holistic treatments have helped thousands of people reclaim their lives from chaos and confusion. 

When you elect to recover at Integrative Life Center, you’ll find the balance and structure missing in your life. You’ll learn new behaviors and coping skills to help you move past self-sabotaging habits. Lastly, you’ll experience a life transition that’s nothing short of miraculous.

Mental health disorders are common. They are not a character flaw. You may not know exactly what you are experiencing, but putting a name to it can be incredibly helpful. Recovery is possible with the help of a treatment plan catered to your needs.

Contact Integrative Life Center today to begin your recovery journey. 

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