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Which are the 5 Major Classes of Mental Illnesses?

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Posted By Alex Perez

“Mental illness is so much more complicated than any pill that any mortal could invent.”

_Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

While discussing mental health issues, it is first critical to comprehend what mental illness is.

Mental disorders comprise a broad range of problems with different symptoms. However, they are generally characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behavior, and relationships with others. Examples of mental illnesses are schizophrenia, depression, intellectual disabilities, and disorders due to drug abuse.

Mental illness is widespread. In a given year[i]

  • nearly one in five (19 percent) U.S. adults experience some form of mental illness
  • one in 24 (4.1 percent) has a severe mental illness*
  • one in 12 (8.5 percent) has a substance use disorder

What Are Major Mental Illnesses?

The standard clinical network perceives over 200 arranged kinds of mental illness.

These conditions can affect one’s ability to identify with others, work, go to class, and keep the person from carrying on with a typical life. Various kinds of mental illnesses have multiple causes, and symptoms may vary from person -to- person, even when they share a similar diagnosis.

There are five major classes of mental illnesses:

Anxiety Disorders

anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterized by powerful feelings of anxiety and fear[ii]. Anxiety is a fear of future events and makes individuals experience troubling and frequent episodes of dread and worrying. The patients with such disorders usually experience these feelings when periodically while doing things like public speaking or a job interview.

Symptoms of anxiety disorder may include physical symptoms like increased heart rate or shakiness, panic attacks, and obsessive thoughts. Anxiety disorders can be divided into several types, including generalized anxiety disorderspecific phobiasocial anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, panic disorder, and selective mutism. A patient with such mental illness may have more than one anxiety disorder at a time.

Mood Disorders

mood disorders

Mood disorders are a group of conditions characterized by disturbance in a person’s mood. This group is also called “mood affective disorder”.

Although everyone experiences bad mood, irritability, and sadness, patients suffering from such disorders usually experience more severe symptoms of disturbed mood that lasts longer than usual. Mood disorders may fall into three categories, i.e., elevated mood (mania), depressed mood, and mood with cycles between mania and depression (Bipolar disorder).

It is estimated that one in 10 adults suffer from some type of mood disorder.[iii]

The most common conditions in adults are depression and bipolar disorder. If untreated, mood disorders may affect the patient’s normal functioning and quality of life.



Schizophrenia is a brain disorder characterized by changes in a person’s cognitive and emotional functions. Schizophrenia affects the most fundamental human parts of life (for example, language/correspondence, line of reasoning, the impression of items, self, and other people). The most common symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, abnormal reasoning, and slurred speech.



Dementia is characterized by a disturbance of cognizance, just as changes in intellectual well-being, such as cognitive decline and motor skills.

The most common forms of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsonism, and substance-induced dementia.

Eating Disorders

eating disorders

Eating disorders are a group of chronic conditions that may pose a serious threat to life if left untreated. Although eating disorders vary in their symptoms and expressions, they all involve obsessive and sometimes distressing thoughts, including overeating, reduced food intake, and concerns about one’s weight, body shape, and self-image. These issues start with the individual eating less or more than expected. But after some time, a strong urge to increased or decreased food intake develops, and the illness begins.

And to Finish

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a medical problem, just like heart disease or diabetes[iv]. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above or a diagnosed mental illness, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your loved ones. Remember, it’s a disorder, not a decision. Don’t let mental illnesses destroy your life. Immediately contact a qualified psychiatrist and begin your journey towards a healthy and beautiful life.

infographic mental illnesses
Infographic: Five Major Classes of Mental Illnesses


[ii]   Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersAmerican Psychiatric Associati (5th ed.). Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013. pp. 189–195ISBN 978-0890425558.

[iii] Triad Mental What is Mental Illness?


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