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What Are the 6 Major Categories of Mental Illness?

What Are the 6 Major Categories of Mental Illness?

When it comes to mental illness there a 6 major categories of mental illnesses. We go over each one and tell you the best way to get help.

Mental illness is a broad descriptive term that refers to any disorder or condition that affects a person’s mood, way of thinking, feelings, or behaviors. This is not to be confused with mental health, which is the overall reflection of our emotional and psychological wellbeing. Mental illnesses are actually relatively common, with the CDC touting that one in five Americans will experience mental illness in any given year. ( 

With numbers showing that a large portion of Americans will experience mental illness each year, it is important to point out that mental health status can change at any given moment. This means that an individual can experience a mental illness at any time, with no previous history of mental health disorders. Some individuals may actually recover from their mental illness, as well, depending on the diagnosis. Mental illness is a medical condition, and anyone can have a mental illness.

What Are the 6 Major Categories of Mental Illness?

What Causes Mental Illness?

Mental illness does not discriminate, anyone with any background can develop a mental illness at any point in their life. There is a social stigma around mental illnesses, and some individuals may feel shame when they receive their diagnosis. There is nothing to be ashamed about, as mental illness can happen to anyone. The CDC states:

Mental disorders occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Although the specific causes of most mental disorders are not known, many risk factors have been identified or suggested. (

While there is not a singular cause of mental illness, several factors can play a part in the development of mental illness. Some individuals may be at greater risk than others for developing a mental illness based on these factors. Some of the factors that may play a part in a mental illness diagnosis include (but are not limited to):

  • Childhood abuse
  • Childhood trauma
  • Long-term stress
  • Substance misuse
  • Experiencing social discrimination
  • Experiencing other chronic medical conditions
  • Bereavement
  • Adulthood trauma
  • Biological factors such as chemical imbalance
  • Social isolation
  • Physical injury
  • Adulthood abuse

Having one or more of these factors in your life may put you at greater risk of mental health disruptions. Always remember that your mental health status and mental illness are nothing to be ashamed about. Millions of individuals face one or more mental illness diagnoses every year. Knowing the factors that contribute to mental illness, as well as the different types of mental illness and how to recognize a decline in mental health, is a vital resource in getting proper treatment.

Are There Different Types of Mental Illness?

With mental illness having various categories of diagnosis, it would seem fit that there are different types and categories of mental illness itself. All mental illnesses can fit into a predetermined category, meaning each mental illness, based on it’s symptoms, can be put into a broad category of diagnosis. There are 6 major categories of mental illness. These categories are:

  • Mood disorders
    • Examples include: Bipolar, depression, seasonal affective disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
    • Examples include: Generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobias
  • Personality disorders
    • Examples include: Borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder
  • Psychotic disorders
    • Examples include: Schizophrenia, delusional disorder, 
  • Eating disorders
    • Examples include: Bulimia, anorexia
  • Trauma-related disorders 
    • Examples include: Post-traumatic stress disorder, reactive attachment disorder, acute stress disorder

Each of these categories of mental illness is a host for all mental illness diagnoses that fit into a specific set of symptoms and characteristics. Some individuals may have multiple mental illnesses, and these may be within different categories. What is important is that each illness is properly diagnosed by a medical professional so that treatment can be started. 

To get the proper diagnosis, medical professionals may look for common symptoms. Using these symptoms, as well as collecting background medical history and other diagnostic tools, your medical professional team can help diagnose and treat your mental illness.

The Most Common Symptoms of Mental Illness

Each category of mental illness may present with different symptoms. There are, however, common symptoms that flow across each category that may help you to recognize a mental illness is present. If you feel extremely sad, experience confusion or difficulty concentrating, have extreme worries or fears, notice excessive changes in mood, notice a withdrawal from people and things you love, feel detached from reality, experience severe fatigue, have thoughts of suicide, or harming yourself or others, it may be time to reach out to your healthcare team.

When It is Time to Seek Help For Mental Illness

Substance use disorder is considered as a mental illness. An estimated 7.7 million adults have another co-occurring mental health disorder when they are diagnosed with substance use disorder. Treatment for all co-occurring disorders at the same time is an essential part of recovery. 

At Evoke Waltham, we are available to help no matter what time of the day or night. Our staff of highly trained, compassionate medical professionals are ready to help you start your journey in recovery. We offer a variety of programs tailored to your individual needs. Don’t wait any longer to start your journey. Call us today, to get the treatment you deserve.