4 Common Mental Health Disorders

May 2024

Taking care of your health means taking care of your mental health, too. Mental health problems can often go untreated if you feel like the problem isn’t serious — or if you’re too embarrassed to admit that something may be wrong.

There’s no shame in having mental health issues. Nearly 23% of U.S. adults have a mental health disorder, according to estimates by the National Institute of Mental Health. However, not everyone with a mental disorder knows they have one, which means they may not get the treatment they need to help them live life to the fullest.

Knowing the warning signs of some of the most common mental health disorders is a good place to start in determining if you or a loved one might be suffering from one of these illnesses. Below are four common mental health illnesses to keep in mind.

Anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term for several anxiety-related mental illnesses. More than 19% of U.S. adults struggle with an anxiety disorder each year.

If you have an anxiety disorder, you may experience excessive worrying that you cannot control. Signs and symptoms you may have an anxiety disorder include:

  • Feeling restless, on edge, or wound up
  • Feeling easily fatigued or tired
  • Having difficulty concentrating or feeling like your mind goes blank
  • Feeling irritable or tense
  • Having headaches, muscle aches, stomach pain, and other unexplained physical problems
  • Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

Major depressive disorder

Also known as depression or clinical depression, major depressive episode is experienced by more than 8% of adults each year. You may have depression if you have any of the following signs and symptoms for at least two weeks:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, irritability, or restlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling like you’re moving in slow motion
  • Difficulty concentrating, working, remembering things, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, waking up earlier than usual, or sleeping more than usual
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Body aches and pains that have no known cause or don’t respond to treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

At any given time, nearly 4% of U.S. adult experience PTSD — a severe stress response to a traumatic event. Some events that can cause PTSD include accidents, military combat, personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, and other forms of violence. Some signs and symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Persistent, frightening memories and thoughts of the event
  • Sleep problems, including insomnia and nightmares
  • Feeling detached or numb
  • Being easily startled
  • Difficulty functioning at work, school, home, or socially

Bipolar disorder

Formerly called manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder affects nearly 3% of U.S. adults each year. If you have bipolar disorder, you experience distinct and unusual shifts in your energy, mood, activity levels, and concentration. These shifts can make it difficult for you to perform the daily tasks of living.

You can shift from manic episodes to depressive episodes. During manic episodes, you can feel:

  • Elated
  • Irritable
  • Energized

During depressive episodes, you can feel:

  • Indifferent
  • Hopeless
  • Very sad

Diagnosing and treating mental health disorders

If you recognize yourself or someone you love in the signs and symptoms above, it’s important to get medical help. Like physical problems, mental health disorders require medical treatment. Left untreated, these mental health issues can get worse, and may increase your risk for self-harm or suicide.

Your doctor can make sure you don’t have a physical condition that is causing your symptoms. They can refer you to a mental health professional to get a proper diagnosis. Treatment for mental health disorders often includes psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.

When to get emergency help

If you or someone you know has thoughts of self-harm or suicide, get help right away. A good source for urgent help is the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. To reach them, call or text 988 — or enter 988 into Google search for an option to web chat.

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