Mental disorders (2023)

A mental disorder is characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation, or behaviour. It is usually associated with distress or impairment in important areas of functioning. There aremany different types of mental disorders. Mental disorders may also be referred to as mental health conditions. The latter is a broader term covering mental disorders, psychosocial disabilities and (other) mental states associated with significantdistress, impairment in functioning, or risk of self-harm. This fact sheet focuses on mental disorders as described by the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD-11).

In 2019, 1 in every 8 people, or 970 million people around the world were living with a mental disorder, with anxiety and depressive disorders the most common (1). In 2020, the number of people living with anxiety and depressive disorders rose significantlybecause of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initial estimates show a 26% and 28% increase respectively for anxiety and major depressive disorders in just one year (2). While effective prevention and treatment options exist, most people with mental disordersdo not have access to effective care. Many people also experience stigma, discrimination and violations of human rights.

Anxiety Disorders

In 2019, 301 million people were living with an anxiety disorder including 58 million children and adolescents (1). Anxiety disorders are characterised by excessive fear and worry and related behavioural disturbances. Symptoms are severe enoughto result in significant distress or significant impairment in functioning. There are several different kinds of anxiety disorders, such as: generalised anxiety disorder (characterised by excessive worry), panic disorder (characterised by panic attacks),social anxiety disorder (characterised by excessive fear and worry in social situations), separation anxiety disorder (characterised by excessive fear or anxiety about separation from those individuals to whom the person has a deep emotional bond),and others. Effective psychological treatment exists, and depending on the age and severity, medication may also be considered.


In 2019, 280 million people were living with depression, including 23 million children and adolescents (1). Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. During a depressiveepisode, the person experiences depressed mood (feeling sad, irritable, empty) or a loss of pleasure or interest in activities, for most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks. Several other symptoms are also present, which may includepoor concentration, feelings of excessive guilt or low self-worth, hopelessness about the future, thoughts about dying or suicide, disrupted sleep, changes in appetite or weight, and feeling especially tired or low in energy.People with depressionare at an increased risk of suicide. Yet, effective psychological treatment exists, and depending on the age and severity, medication may also be considered.

Bipolar Disorder

In 2019, 40 million people experienced bipolar disorder (1). People with bipolar disorder experience alternating depressive episodes with periods of manic symptoms. During a depressive episode, the person experiences depressed mood (feelingsad, irritable, empty) or a loss of pleasure or interest in activities, for most of the day, nearly every day. Manic symptoms may include euphoria or irritability, increased activity or energy, and other symptoms such as increased talkativeness,racing thoughts, increased self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, distractibility, and impulsive reckless behaviour.People with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of suicide. Yet effective treatment options exist including psychoeducation,reduction of stress and strengthening of social functioning, and medication.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The prevalence of PTSD and other mental disorders is high in conflict-affected settings (3). PTSD may develop following exposure to an extremely threatening or horrific event or series of events. It is characterised by all of the following: 1) re-experiencingthe traumatic event or events in the present (intrusive memories, flashbacks, or nightmares); 2) avoidance of thoughts and memories of the event(s), or avoidance of activities, situations, or people reminiscent of the event(s); and 3) persistent perceptionsof heightened current threat. These symptoms persist for at least several weeks and cause significant impairment in functioning. Effective psychological treatment exists.


Schizophrenia affects approximately 24 million people or 1 in 300 people worldwide (1).People with schizophrenia have a life expectancy 10-20 years below that of the general population (4). Schizophrenia is characterised by significantimpairments in perception and changes in behaviour. Symptoms may include persistent delusions, hallucinations, disorganised thinking, highly disorganised behaviour, or extreme agitation. People with schizophrenia may experience persistentdifficulties with their cognitive functioning. Yet, a range of effective treatment options exist, including medication, psychoeducation, family interventions, and psychosocial rehabilitation.

Eating Disorders

In 2019, 14 million people experienced eating disorders including almost 3 million children and adolescents (1). Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, involve abnormal eating and preoccupation with food as well as prominent bodyweight and shape concerns. The symptoms or behaviours result in significant risk or damage to health, significant distress, or significant impairment of functioning. Anorexia nervosa often has its onset during adolescence or early adulthood and isassociated with premature death due to medical complications or suicide. Individuals with bulimia nervosa are at a significantly increased risk for substance use, suicidality, and health complications. Effective treatment options exist, includingfamily-based treatment and cognitive-based therapy.

Disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders

40 million people, including children and adolescents, were living with conduct-dissocial disorder in 2019 (1). This disorder, also known as conduct disorder, is one of two disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders, the other is oppositional defiantdisorder. Disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders are characterised by persistent behaviour problems such as persistently defiant or disobedient to behaviours that persistently violate the basic rights of others or major age-appropriatesocietal norms, rules, or laws. Onset of disruptive and dissocial disorders, is commonly, though not always, during childhood. Effective psychological treatments exist, often involving parents, caregivers, and teachers, cognitive problem-solving orsocial skills training.

Neurodevelopmental disorders

Neurodevelopmental disorders are behavioural and cognitive disorders, that? arise during the developmental period, and involve significant difficulties in the acquisition and execution of specific intellectual, motor, language, or social functions.

Neurodevelopmental disorders include disorders of intellectual development, autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) amongst others. ADHD is characterised by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivitythat has a direct negative impact on academic, occupational, or social functioning. Disorders of intellectual development are characterised by significant limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour, which refers to difficultieswith everyday conceptual, social, and practical skills that are performed in daily life. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) constitutes a diverse group of conditions characterised by some degree of difficulty with social communicationand reciprocal social interaction, as well as persistent restricted, repetitive, and inflexible patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities.

Effective treatment options exist including psychosocial interventions, behavioural interventions, occupational and speech therapy. For certain diagnoses and age groups, medication may also be considered.

Who is at risk from developing a mental disorder?

At any one time, a diverse set of individual, family, community, and structural factors may combine to protect or undermine mental health. Although most people are resilient, people who are exposed to adverse circumstances – including poverty, violence,disability, and inequality – are at higher risk. Protective and risk factors include individual psychological and biological factors, such as emotional skills as well as genetics. Many of the risk and protective factors are influencedthrough changes in brain structure and/or function.

Health systems and social support

Health systems have not yet adequately responded to the needs of people with mental disorders and are significantly under resourced. The gap between the need for treatment and its provision is wide all over the world; and is often poor in qualitywhen delivered. For example, only 29% of people with psychosis (5) and only one third of people with depression receive formal mental health care (6).

People with mental disorders also require social support, including support in developing and maintaining personal, family, and social relationships. People with mental disorders may also need support for educational programmes, employment, housing,and participation in other meaningful activities.

WHO response

WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 recognizes the essential role of mental health in achieving health for all people. The plan includes 4 major objectives:

  • to strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health;
  • to provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings;
  • to implement of strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health; and
  • to strengthen information systems, evidence, and research for mental health.

WHO's Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) uses evidence-based technical guidance, tools and training packages to expand services in countries, especially in resource-poor settings. It focuses on a prioritized set of conditions, directing capacitybuilding towards non-specialized health-care providers in an integrated approach that promotes mental health at all levels of care. The WHO mhGAP Intervention Guide 2.0 is part of this Programme, and provides guidance for doctors, nurses, andother health workers in non-specialist health settings on assessment and management of mental disorders.


(1) Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx), (, accessed 14 May 2022).

(2) Mental Health and COVID-19: Early evidence of the pandemic’s impact.Geneva: World Health Organization; 2022.

(3) Charlson, F., van Ommeren, M., Flaxman, A., Cornett, J., Whiteford, H., & Saxena, S. New WHO prevalence estimates of mental disorders in conflict settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Lancet. 2019;394,240–248.

(4) Laursen TM, Nordentoft M, Mortensen PB. Excess early mortality in schizophrenia. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2014;10,425-438.

(5) Mental health atlas 2020.Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021

(6) Moitra M, Santomauro D, Collins PY, Vos T, Whiteford H, Saxena S, et al. The global gap in treatment coverage for major depressive disorder in 84 countries from 2000–2019: a systematic review and Bayesian meta-regression analysis. PLoS Med.2022;19(2):e1003901. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1003901.


Mental disorders? ›

A mental disorder is characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotional regulation, or behaviour. It is usually associated with distress or impairment in important areas of functioning. There are many different types of mental disorders.

What are the 20 types of mental disorders? ›

On this page
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Behavioural and emotional disorders in children.
  • Bipolar affective disorder.
  • Depression.
  • Dissociation and dissociative disorders.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • Paranoia.

What are 5 serious mental illness? ›

SMI includes major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder (VA).

What is the hardest mental illness to live with? ›

Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPDs) become overwhelmed and incapacitated by the intensity of their emotions, whether it is joy and elation or depression, anxiety, and rage. They are unable to manage these intense emotions.

What is the #1 most diagnosed mental disorder? ›

Depression. Impacting an estimated 300 million people, depression is the most-common mental disorder and generally affects women more often than men.

What is the most painful mental illness? ›

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) has long been believed to be a disorder that produces the most intense emotional pain and distress in those who have this condition. Studies have shown that borderline patients experience chronic and significant emotional suffering and mental agony.

What are the 7 most common mental illnesses? ›

Seven common types of mental disorders include:
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorders social anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and phobias.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia.

What are the three biggest mental illness? ›

Of those, the three most common diagnoses are anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These three conditions make up around 30 percent of all diagnoses of mental illness in America.

What is the easiest mental disorder to treat? ›

Anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental illnesses, and they are also the most treatable. Unfortunately, only about one quarter of the victims ever seek treatment.

What is a common but serious mental disorder? ›

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.

What are the 5 mood disorders? ›

The most common types of mood disorders are major depression, dysthymia (dysthymic disorder), bipolar disorder, mood disorder due to a general medical condition, and substance-induced mood disorder. There is no clear cause of mood disorders.

What mental illnesses do most killers have? ›

As a psychoanalyst, Stone's specialty is personality disorders so it is not surprising that most of the mass murderers in his study were diagnosed with antisocial, psychopathic, narcissistic or paranoid personality disorder.

Which mental illness has the most deaths? ›

The anorexia death rate is the highest of all mental illnesses as it is a very complex and complicated disorder. It requires early diagnosis and access to care with close follow-up and often long-term treatment.

What mental illness gets worse with age? ›

Personality disorders that are susceptible to worsening with age include paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, obsessive compulsive, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, and dependent, Dr.

What is walking dead syndrome? ›

People with Cotard's syndrome (also called walking corpse syndrome or Cotard's delusion) believe that parts of their body are missing, or that they are dying, dead, or don't exist. They may think nothing exists. Cotard's syndrome is rare, with about 200 known cases worldwide.

How many mental illnesses can 1 person have? ›

Technically, according to DSM-5*, a person can receive more than one personality disorder diagnosis. People who are diagnosed with a personality disorder most often qualify for more than one diagnosis. A person with a severe personality disorder might meet the criteria for four, five or even more disorders!

What are 4 early warning signs of deteriorating mental health? ›

Adults and Adolescents
  • Excessive worrying or fear.
  • Feeling excessively sad or low.
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning.
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria.
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger.
  • Avoiding friends and social activities.

What is the most common mental disorder in America? ›

Anxiety disorders are considered the most common type of psychiatric disorders in the general population.

What is the hardest mental illness to diagnose? ›

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms of this disorder overlap with many other conditions, such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and even eating disorders.

Which is worse bipolar or BPD? ›

The intensity of symptoms can vary widely in both disorders, but the intensity of BPD symptoms can be more pervasive and potentially last longer than BD symptoms. Both diagnoses are associated with suicidal behavior, but people with BPD will often engage in self-harm without suicidal intentions.

What is a BPD Favourite person? ›

Another hallmark of borderline personality disorder is having a favorite person—usually a family member, romantic partner, or someone in a supportive role, such as a teacher or coach. For someone with this type of BPD relationship, a “favorite person” is someone they rely on for comfort, happiness, and validation.

What are the 10 most disabling mental illnesses? ›

Mood disorders (major depressive disorder, mania, and dysthymic disorder), anxiety disorders (post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, specific phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder), alcohol use disorder, illicit drug use disorder, intermittent ...

What are the four largest mental disorders? ›

Below are the five most common mental health disorders in America and their related symptoms:
  • Anxiety Disorders. The most common category of mental health disorders in America impacts approximately 40 million adults 18 and older. ...
  • Mood Disorders. ...
  • Psychotic Disorders. ...
  • Dementia. ...
  • Eating disorders.
Jan 30, 2020

What are the top 10 disabling disorders? ›

10 of the most common conditions that qualify for Social Security disability are Arthritis, Heart Disease, Degenerative Disc Disease, Respiratory Illness, Mental Illness, Cancer, Stroke, Nervous System Disorders, Diabetes, Immune System Disorders.

What geniuses were bipolar? ›

And even the genius of geniuses, Albert Einstein, was known to experience periods of extreme productivity and deep despair, which nowadays would most likely be diagnosed as bipolar.

What are 15 mental illnesses? ›

Many people also experience stigma, discrimination and violations of human rights.
  • Anxiety Disorders. ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Bipolar Disorder. ...
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Schizophrenia. ...
  • Eating Disorders. ...
  • Disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders. ...
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders.
Jun 8, 2022

Is Overthinking a mental disorder? ›

Overthinking is not a recognized mental disorder by itself. But research has found that it's often a symptom of other mental health conditions, including: Depression. Anxiety disorders.

What is 1 type of mental disorder? ›

There are many different types of mental disorders. Some common ones include: Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias. Depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders.

Which mental disorder is least likely to be treated? ›

By contrast, teens suffering from phobias or anxiety disorders were the least likely to be treated.

What is considered mentally unstable? ›

An inability to cope with problems or daily activities. Feeling of disconnection or withdrawal from normal activities. Unusual or "magical" thinking. Excessive anxiety.

What mental illness has anger symptoms? ›

Overview. Intermittent explosive disorder involves repeated, sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts in which you react grossly out of proportion to the situation.

What mental illness causes excessive talking? ›

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): People with ADHD may talk excessively and interrupt frequently.

What mood disorder causes anger? ›

Individuals with Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) experience sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts that are out of proportion to the situation. Road rage, domestic abuse or throwing and breaking things can be signs of this disorder.

Why do mentally ill people go to jail? ›

The factors most commonly cited as causes of mentally ill persons' being placed in the criminal justice system are deinstitutionalization and the unavailability of long-term hospitalization in state hospitals for persons with chronic and severe mental illness, more formal and rigid criteria for civil commitment, the ...

What serial killers had BPD? ›

Borderline personality disorder
  • Aileen Wuornos, the woman who inspired the 2003 film “Monster” starring Charlize Theron, confessed to seven murders in Florida. ...
  • Jeffrey Dahmer, also known as the “Milwaukee Cannibal,” killed seventeen boys and men between 1978 and 1991. ...
  • Kristen H.

What serial killers have schizophrenia? ›

Schizophrenia and Antisocial Personality Disorder are the most common diagnoses amongst serial killers. While some people, like Son of Sam, Cosmo DiNardo, and Ted Bundy act upon their disorders, there are an abundance of people in the world who have these illnesses and do not do anything with regards to harming others.

Is OCD the worst mental illness? ›

OCD is chronic disorder in 60 to 70 percent of cases. When considering lowered quality of life and loss of income, OCD was once one of the top 10 debilitating illnesses worldwide, and anxiety disorders in general remain among the top 10.

How bad is BPD? ›

Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that severely impacts a person's ability to manage their emotions. This loss of emotional control can increase impulsivity, affect how a person feels about themselves, and negatively impact their relationships with others.

What mental disorders cause psychosis? ›

Psychosis may be a symptom of a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression. However, a person can experience psychosis and never be diagnosed with schizophrenia or any other disorder.

What is end stage bipolar? ›

Although there is no official classification for end stage bipolar disorder, mild structural changes in the brain that lead to cognitive dysfunction can severely reduce someone's quality of life, especially toward the end of life.

What age does bipolar start? ›

Bipolar disorder can occur at any age, although it often develops between the ages of 15 and 19 and rarely develops after 40. Men and women from all backgrounds are equally likely to develop bipolar disorder. The pattern of mood swings in bipolar disorder varies widely between people.

What personality disorder is fearful? ›

Cluster C personality disorders are characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior. They include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

What are the 7 major mental disorders? ›

Many people also experience stigma, discrimination and violations of human rights.
  • Anxiety Disorders. ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Bipolar Disorder. ...
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Schizophrenia. ...
  • Eating Disorders. ...
  • Disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders. ...
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders.
Jun 8, 2022

What is 72 mental illness? ›

A 72-hour hold (also known as a 5150 or 5585) is a specific code that refers to involuntary mental health hospitalization. During this hold, a specialized team evaluates patients for safety and reviews the appropriate steps for securing stabilization.

What's the worst disorder you can have? ›

Anorexia nervosa is linked to the highest mortality rate of all, and sadly, one in five individuals with anorexia who die take their own life, according to findings in Archives of General Psychiatry.

What mental illness doesn't care? ›

Feeling as if you don't care about anything anymore may be related to anhedonia or apathy. Anhedonia is a mental state in which people have an inability to feel pleasure. It is often a symptom of mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and substance use.

What are 4 common mental disorders? ›

Therefore, Kessler and colleagues (2005a) concluded that interventions aimed at prevention or early treatment needed to focus on young people.
  • Depression. ...
  • Generalised anxiety disorder. ...
  • Panic disorder. ...
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder. ...
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.

What are the 4 types of mental illness? ›

mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder) anxiety disorders. personality disorders. psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)

What is the deadliest disorder in DSM? ›

According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the diagnostic criteria for Anorexia Nervosa are: Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements, leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health.

What is the most treatable disorder? ›

Depression is among the most treatable of mental disorders. Between 80% and 90% percent of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment.

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