Different Categories of Mental Illness

There exists several different and varying categories of mental illness. The glossary below are words, terms and phrases you may find while browsing our site. This list was created in February 2015. With research and increased understanding, the categories and examples presented are subject to change. If you would like to contribute to the glossary, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is marked by intense feelings of fear or discomfort, and can manifest itself in one or all of the following ways: physical symptoms (pounding heart, sweating, nausea, rapid breathing, dizziness, or numbness); thoughts (what if I fail? I can’t do it. No one cares); and behaviours (avoiding, withdrawing, isolating).

Eating Disorders

Young people develop a distorted body image manifesting in extreme dieting, or eating too much (binging), and then vomiting or taking laxatives (purging). While dangerously thin, they believe they are “fat”.

Mood Disorders

This group of disorders are characterized by extreme and sometimes sudden elevation or lowering of a person’s mood, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

Cognitive Disorders

More prevalent in the elderly, individuals will experience deficits in learning, memory, perception, and problem solving.

Personality Disorders

This group of illnesses is defined by experiences and behaviors that differ from societal norms and expectations, such as difficulties in cognition, emotiveness, interpersonal functioning, or control of impulses.

Disorders Involving Psychosis

People experiencing psychosis may exhibit some personality changes and some loss of contact with reality. Psychosis is usually marked by auditory or visual hallucinations and/or delusions, which is holding unusual beliefs not shared by other people. Psychosis is more a symptom than a diagnosed illness, as it can be found in individuals with sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, interactions with medications, drug abuse, or other medical conditions (eg. lupus, stroke, epilepsy).  However, it is most commonly associated with Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Paranoid Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Delusional Disorder, and Dementia.

Substance – Related Disorders

The user consumes, with compulsive regularity, a substance (alcohol, drugs) in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others; altering judgment, perception, attention, or physical control.

Illnesses Most Common in Childhood or Youth

Anxiety, eating and mood disorders, as well as schizophrenia can occur in adults as well as children, with greatest onset during youth, between the ages of 15 – 25. Behavioural and development disorders, elimination disorders, and learning and communication disorders, occur in childhood, but can continue into adulthood. It is not unusual for a child to have more than one disorder.

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