Common Mental Disorders

February 23, 2016


Mental disorders are one of the toughest diagnoses to understand because they are not visible. Many people don’t realize how common mental disorders are because you can’t know exactly what is going through someone’s minds just by looking at them. Millions of people have been diagnosed with mental disorders and these numbers continue to grow every year. The top three common mental disorders are depression, dementia, and schizophrenia. So what is it about these disorders that make them so common? In this article we will be looking at who is affected by them, causes of each type, and ways to treat them.


The first, and most common, mental disorder is depression. Depression by definition is “a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way” (Source: Depression has been diagnosed in over 400 million people. This is primarily because depression can affect anyone, it is not limited by age or sex.

Causes of depression is based mainly on the person that is diagnosed with depression. Having so many different causes makes it such a common disorder. Depression comes in many different forms:

  • major depression: this is often diagnosed when severe symptoms affect someone’s everyday life, most commonly diagnosed after a major episode.
  • situational depression: this can come on because of life-changing events such as a loss of a job, loved one, divorce, etc. this is usually a short-term depression.
  • hormonal depression: this is most commonly found in women, changes in levels of hormones can bring an onset of depression.
  • persistent depression: this is a depression that lasts consistently for a long period of time.
  • seasonal depression: the most common is seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which usually affects people during the winter months due to a lack of sunlight.
  • genetic depression: those with relatives that are diagnosed with major depression have a higher chance of having it also.

There are also subtypes that are in these categories. Depression affects each person differently. Men and women are both affected in different ways and will react to their depression differently. Depression most commonly affects a person’s general outlook on life which causes them to seem more down or “out of it”.

There are many different ways to treat depressions. The two most common are psychotherapy and medications. Medications, or antidepressants, are very commonly prescribed to people that have depression. These are often times pills that are taken daily. Psychotherapy is usually recommended by doctors to help with coping with thoughts and feelings that come along with depression. The main focus of psychotherapy is to help the patients overall well-being.


Dementia is the next most common mental disorder with about 35 million people being diagnosed with it. Often times when you think of dementia you think of it being related to old age. This is because dementia is usually connected with Alzheimer’s disease. This does not completely disclude people under the age of 65, many people have reported being diagnosed with dementia at an age younger than 65.

Dementia itself has such a high number of diagnoses because dementia is not a disease, instead it is a term that describes symptoms that affect thinking and memory. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells (Source: Dementia “indicates problems with at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and impaired judgment or language, and the inability to perform some daily activities such as paying bills or becoming lost while driving.” (Source: Dementia is often very gradual, it doesn’t start all at once, instead it will start out slowly and increase as time goes on. Dementia causes changes in the brain that are permanent, this makes treatment nearly impossible. If the disorder is found in its early stages, treatment methods such as medication can be described. In most cases, dementia can only be treated with therapy that focuses on planning out the future of the patient.

Human brain research and memory loss as symbol of alzheimer's concept with missing pieces of the puzzle


The third most common type of mental disorder is schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that primarily affects the way that people think, act, and feel. Schizophrenia has been reported to affect about 21 million people. Schizophrenia can happen at almost anytime in life. Primarily those diagnosed with schizophrenia are diagnosed in their early 20’s. This means that schizophrenia is rarely found in children. This doesn’t completely disclude children but statistically speaking it is not a common occurrence.

There are five different types of schizophrenia; paranoid, undifferentiated, catatonic, disorganized, and residual (Source: These subcategories describe the symptoms that are caused by schizophrenia. Causes of schizophrenia are not easy to pinpoint because each diagnosis is different. The cause of schizophrenia is not completely known, various studies have pointed to it being genetic and from environmental factors. As a result of not knowing the cause of schizophrenia there is not a cure, instead medication and psychotherapy are used to help patients cope with their disorder.

Mental disorders affect millions of people every single year. Depression, dementia, and schizophrenia are just three of the many mental disorders out there that affect people. It is important to know the symptoms of these disorders and the severity of them. Mental disorders can affect almost anyone. Many people do not get the right treatment and help to cope with these changes. As a result, they are at a higher risk of suicide and self-harm. If you are someone who is experiencing symptoms that could be linked to a mental disorder it is important to speak with a doctor as soon as possible.

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