What Type of Mental Disorder Do I Have: How to Determine if You Are Mentally Ill

what mental disorder do i haveIt can be hard to determine if you have a mental disorder or not.  Some days you might wake up feeling depressed, tired, or angry, while others days you might go about feeling happy, energized, and excited about life.  However, if you find yourself feeling sad and confused on a regular basis, you might begin to ask yourself, “What mental disorder do I have?”

The good thing to know is that you are not alone.  Today, approximately 61.5 million Americans, or one in four adults, experience signs and symptoms of a mental illness.  Around 13.6 million, or one in seventeen adults, live with a mental disorder.  If you are wondering if you fall into one of these categories, let’s take a look at the symptoms of some major mental disorders to help you answer your question of, “what mental disorder do I have?”

12 Strategies to support family and friends with “mild” forms of mental illness can be found here.

Major Mental Illnesses

There are many different types of mental disorders and the signs and symptoms vary from one person to the next.  The make it a little more simple for you, we are first going to focus on the signs and symptoms of some more major mental illnesses.

Depression:  There is no doubt that people feel sad from time to time, but if you suffer from the symptoms of depression for at least two weeks in such a way that it affects your emotions, thinking, behavior, and physical well-being, then you might be clinically depressed.  Let’s take a look at the various types of symptoms associated with clinical depression:

  • Emotional Symptoms:  Sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, mood swings, lack of emotional responsiveness, helplessness, and hopelessness.
  • Psychological Symptoms: Frequent self-criticism, self-blame, pessimism, impaired memory and concentration, indecisiveness and confusion, tendency to believe others see you in a negative light, and thoughts of death and suicide.
  • Behavioral Symptoms:  Crying spells, withdrawal from others, worrying, neglect of responsibilities, loss of interest in personal appearance, loss of motivation, and drug or alcohol use.
  • Physical Symptoms: Chronic fatigue, lack of energy, sleeping too much or too little, overeating or loss of appetite, constipation, weight loss or gain, irregular menstrual cycle, loss of sexual desire, and unexplained aches and pains.

Anxiety:  If you have a high-stress job, a child, or deal with long commute hours, you probably feel stressed or anxious rather often.  However, an anxiety disorder is different normal stress and anxiety that people feel from day to day.  An anxiety disorder tends to be more severe, long-lasting, and will disrupt or interfere with your daily activities, such as work, relaxing, or your relationships.  There are different types of anxiety disorders, and they include: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Phobia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Obsessive or Compulsive Disorder.  Here are some of the symptoms that you may notice if you are suffering from an anxiety disorder:

  • Physical Symptoms:  Heart palpitations, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, flushing, hyperventilation, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, sweating, tingling and numbness, choking, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, restlessness, and tremors or shaking.
  • Psychological Symptoms: Unrealistic and/or excessive fear and worry, mind racing or going blank, decrease concentration and memory, indecisiveness, irritability, impatience, anger, confusion, restlessness or feeling “on edge” or nervousness, tiredness, sleep disturbance, and vivid dreams.
  • Behavioral Symptoms:  Avoidance of situations, obsessive or compulsive behavior, distress in social situations, and phobic behavior.

Bi-Polar Disorder:  If anyone experiences mood swings often, it would be women (during that time of the month).  While a bi-polar disorder is also characterized by mood swings, these are much more severe.  An individual who suffers from bi-polar disorder will have long-lasting periods of depression and mania, and then go back to their “normal” mood.  However, symptoms of both depression and mania must be exhibited in order for them to be diagnosed as bi-polar (Bi-polar disorder used to be refered to as Manic-depressive disorder).  You will notice that the symptoms that characterize bi-polar disorder are associated with depression and mania.

  • Depressive Symptoms:  Sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, lack of emotional responsiveness, helplessness, hopelessness, self-criticism, self-blame, pessimism, impaired memory and concentration, indecisiveness and confusion, thoughts of death and suicide, crying spells, withdrawal from others, worrying, neglect of responsibilities, loss of interest in personal appearance, loss of motivation, chronic fatigue, lack of energy, overeating or loss of appetite, constipation, weight loss or gain, and a loss of sexual desire.
  • Manic Symptoms:  Increased energy and over-activity, elated mood, needing less sleep than usual, rapid thinking and speech, lack of inhibitions, grandiose delusions, and lack of insight.

Psychotic Disorder:  A person is diagnosed with a psychotic disorder when they seem to have lost touch or contact with reality.  The problem with diagnosing yourself with a psychotic disorder is that most people who suffer from these disorders do not feel out of touch whatsoever.  However, they can be more easily diagnosed by a professional, who will note things such as: disturbances in thinking, as well as disturbances in a person’s emotions or overall behavior.  Generally psychotic disorders are not as common as things mental disorders such as depression or anxiety, as they affect only 1% of the population today.  Some psychotic disorders can include: Schizophrenia, Psychotic Mania, Psychotic Depression, Schizo-affective Disorder and Drug-Induced Psychosis.  Let’s go over some of the signs and symptoms that are present in an individual suffering from a psychotic disorder.

  • Changes in Emotion and Motivation Symptoms:  Depression, anxiety, irritability, suspicion, blunted, flat or inappropriate emotion, change in appetite, reduced energy and motivation.
  • Changes in Thinking and Perception Symptoms:  Difficulties with concentration or attention, sense of alteration of self, others or the outside world (e.g. feeling that self or others have changed or are acting different in some way), strange ideas, unusual perceptual experiences (such as a reduction or greater intensity of smell, sound or color), delusions, hallucinations.
  • Changes in Behavior Symptoms:  Sleep disturbance, social isolation or withdrawal, reduced ability to carry out work or other roles.

Some other types of common mental disorders include:

  • Eating disorders:  Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder which are characterized by an extreme preoccupation with food.
  • Impulse and addiction disorders:  Where individuals are unable to resist urges and act impulsively in ways that can result in harm for themselves and others.
  • Personality disorders:  Exhibiting extreme or inflexible personality traits that can cause problems in work, school, relationships and overall daily lifestyle.

Other Things to Consider

whatmentaldisorderdoihaveIn determining if you suffer from a mental disorder, there are other things that you should consider before you self-diagnose.

  1. Determine how drastic your symptoms are.  Many of the symptoms that were mentioned above could appear when you are responding to regular day to day events.  For instance, you may not be suffering from an anxiety disorder if you feel a lack of motivation in a situation where you might be dealing with problems at work with a boss or co-workers.  However, you should take note if any of the above symptoms do not go away after an extend amount of time, or if they hinder your ability to properly function in your day-to-day activities.
  2. Figure out the cause:  If you are diagnosed with a mental illness, it is important to figure out the cause so that you can go about treating it properly and getting the help that you need.  For instance, a mental illness could be cause by inherited traits, biological factors, or in response to difficult life experiences.  Ask yourself questions and determine if anyone in your family is mentally ill, if you have been exposed to certain viruses or toxins, or if you have recently experienced a traumatic event.

Check Your Signs and Symptoms

Determining if you have a mental disorder is not easily done alone.  For further assistance, consult with your doctor or medical professional to discuss your symptoms and determine if you need more assistance or care.  If you want to look into decreasing or managing some mental disorder signs or symptoms, check out this course here to set you on the road towards health and healing.