Categories of Disorders

Think about a time you felt like everything was going right for you, and you were incredibly happy. Now think about a time you were struggling, everything seemed to be going wrong, and you were incredibly sad or depressed. It's normal for our moods to change depending on the circumstances in our lives. How do we know if what we are experiencing is normal or if we could use some help dealing with it? 

Categories of Disorders Categories of Disorders

Create learning materials about Categories of Disorders with our free learning app!

  • Instand access to millions of learning materials
  • Flashcards, notes, mock-exams and more
  • Everything you need to ace your exams
Create a free account
Contents
Table of contents

    • What are mental illnesses or psychological disorders?
    • Who defines normal and abnormal in mental disorders?
    • How are the symptoms of each mental disorder determined?
    • What role does genetics play in mental disorders?
    • What are the 11 categories of mental disorders?

    Mental Illness or Psychological Disorders

    A mental disorder (or psychological disorder) is a diagnosable condition with a specific set of symptoms that cause significant problems or distress in one of the following areas: thoughts, feelings, or behavior. Those problems also have to impact either a biological, psychological, or developmental part of life.

    All mental disorders fit within a biopsychosocial framework of symptoms. They impact physical health (biology), mental health (psychology), and relational health (social). Even though each disorder has its unique symptoms, all the disorders can include biological, psychological, and social symptoms or consequences.

    Depression symptoms cover things like mood, motivation, weight fluctuations, sleep issues, motor movements, fatigue, specific feelings and thoughts, mental states like concentration or decision-making, and resulting distress in any important part of life.

    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) authored by the American Psychological Association is the guiding book for psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health professionals. The shorthand is DSM-5, and this book contains lists of symptoms, potential causes, and other data for every psychological disorder. Doctors typically use a book called the International Classification of Diseases (11th edition) to diagnose someone, but mental health professionals developed the DSM-5 as their official guide to mental disorders.

    It took 12 years for the DSM-5 to make it through editing and revising. The first edition was published in 1952. It took the combined efforts of more than 13 teams of professionals to write the DSM-5. The teams even released parts of the DSM-5 early for public feedback! In 2022, the DSM-5 got an update when a revised version was released.

    Mental Disorders and Abnormal Psychology

    Who gets to decide what kind of symptoms are considered normal or abnormal? Well, it’s way more complicated than you might think. Most of the time, psychology research is about normal human behaviors and mental processes. We want to better understand ourselves and how we relate to the world!

    Categories of Disorders, a laptop displaying the words "what is normal?" on the screen, StudySmarterAbnormal psychology, pixabay.com

    Abnormal psychology is the study of what happens when something goes wrong with human behavior and mental processes. In a general sense, abnormal behavior usually just means a mental disorder. Each culture (and every single person) has its way of defining what is considered abnormal or normal. From a scientific perspective, abnormal behavior is rare. Most problems fall under the normal category, and only certain more severe problems fall under the abnormal or mental disorder category.

    Related to abnormal behavior is the concept of insanity or being insane. This is a legal term used in court. Someone who is insane is unable to tell if what they do is right or wrong. In statistical terms, insanity is even rarer than abnormal behavior. Insanity pleas are hardly used in court at all, and they are very hard to prove.

    Symptoms of Mental Disorders

    How do psychologists figure out what problems are mental disorders and what the symptoms are for each disorder? Well, the whole point of defining mental disorders and their symptoms is so that mental health professionals can communicate with each other and bill insurance. The goal is not to label people or stigmatize them. It is helpful to have a guide to mental disorders for professionals that work in abnormal psychology professions.

    So, large groups of mental health professionals formed committees to determine what should be considered a mental disorder and what symptoms should go with each disorder. They based their decisions on research, clinical judgment, client reports, and statistical data. They pulled together all of the information they could on mental disorders to inform what eventually made it into the DSM-5. There are still more changes to come in the future!

    Categories of Disorders, the hands of a clinician in blue gloves holding an electronic tablet and taking notes on it, StudySmarterDiagnosing, pixabay.com

    Part of how the DSM-5 writers define mental disorder symptoms is that they have to be very unusual in a cultural or personally dysfunctional way. Holding odd or extremely rare social beliefs doesn’t automatically mean someone has a mental disorder. Every person is unique, so most behaviors can be explained through normal human variation.

    For most mental disorders, a person only has to experience some of the symptoms listed to receive a diagnosis. Even within a specific mental disorder, people experience it differently! Not everyone will have all the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder, for example. This helps make the lists of symptoms less strict and more adaptable to unique human beings.

    Ted and Lucy are former military officers diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Ted developed PTSD after witnessing the death of a close friend. Lucy developed PTSD after repeatedly encountering inhumane acts by another country’s military.

    Ted’s symptoms mainly happen at night: dreams, intense distress, avoiding going to sleep, believing he will never be able to sleep through the night ever again, and feeling like no one understands what he goes through each night. Lucy’s symptoms are mostly during the daytime: unwanted memories, flashbacks to specific scenes, avoiding anything that reminds her of what she saw, believing that she is somehow to blame for the things she saw, and constantly feeling angry or irritable.

    What Ted and Lucy have in common is that their symptoms started over a month ago, both are struggling to get through their daily tasks, and neither are taking any drugs or medications that could cause their symptoms.

    Genetics and Mental Disorders

    Several mental disorders are linked to a genetic factor. Sometimes genetics play a huge role in the risk for a disorder, and sometimes they only play a small part in whether you have a mental disorder. Some disorders with a particularly strong genetic component are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    Even the genetic connections in these disorders, though, don’t mean that you will develop the disorder. Just because your parents or grandparents had a mental disorder, you still may not ever experience that disorder. Genetics is only one piece of the whole puzzle when it comes to what causes a mental disorder.

    Usually, the causes of a disorder are biopsychosocial. Genetics are included under biological, but they are only one of the factors in play. Other causes include hormones, physical health, brain damage, trauma, stress, role models, societal expectations, and cultural influences.

    Categories of Disorders, an unfinished jigsaw puzzle of an image of blue DNA strands, StudySmarterGenetics puzzle, pixabay.com

    Categories of Mental Disorders

    You can probably name several mental disorders off the top of your head: depression, anxiety, bipolar, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, etc. Did you know there are over 13 major categories of mental disorders? Most of the disorders you likely have never heard of before! Here are 13 categories of mental disorders from the DSM-5:

    1. Neurodevelopmental Disorders

    2. Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders

    3. Bipolar and Related Disorders

    4. Depressive Disorders

    5. Anxiety Disorders

    6. Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders

    7. Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders

    8. Dissociative Disorders

    9. Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders

    10. Feeding and Eating Disorders

    11. Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders

    12. Neurocognitive Disorders

    13. Personality Disorders

    The order of the categories is intentional. The DSM-5 uses a developmental approach to sort these categories. The first few listed usually develop early in life and have a strong genetic component. As you go down the list, the ones toward the end usually develop later in life, like in adulthood. These are only some of the categories in the DSM-5, and each category has several disorders within it.

    What about mood disorders?

    Depression and bipolar disorders use to be categorized as mood disorders. Now, they each have their category. The term mood disorders can refer to depression, bipolar, or anxiety disorders because the main symptoms are about a person’s general mood. The important thing to remember is that the DSM-5 will one day be replaced by the DSM-6. Some disorders and symptoms may look very different or not be included at all in future editions. As more research is conducted, professionals change the diagnostic guide to reflect the best scientific information we have available.

    Categories of Disorders - Key Takeaways

    • A mental disorder (or psychological disorder) is a diagnosable condition with a specific set of symptoms that cause significant problems or distress in one of the following areas: thoughts, feelings, or behavior.
    • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) authored by the American Psychological Association is the guiding book for psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health professionals.
    • Abnormal psychology is the study of what happens when something goes wrong with human behavior and mental processes.
    • The DSM-5 helps mental health professionals communicate with each other and bill insurance, and the contents are based on research, clinical judgment, client reports, and statistical data.
    • Some disorders with a particularly strong genetic component are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
    Frequently Asked Questions about Categories of Disorders

    What is a personality disorder with examples?

    A personality disorder is a mental health disorder that seriously impacts a person's typical manner of thinking, behaving, and feeling; one example is Borderline Personality Disorder.

    What is a mood disorder with examples?

    A mood disorder is a mental health disorder that causes a persistent, intense mood disturbance; one example is major depressive disorder.

    What are the 11 types of mental disorders?

    The 11 types of mental disorders are anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, trauma and stressor-related disorders, somatic symptom and related disorders, dissociative disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar and related disorders, schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, personality disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, and organic/neurocognitive disorders.

    How do genetic disorders occur?

    Genetic disorders occur through inheriting specific genes and/or through epigenetic activation.

    What causes personality disorders?

    Personality disorders are caused by a combination of psychological, environmental, biological, and genetic factors. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    What is not a speculated cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

    Which one is not a primary symptom of schizophrenia?

    Chromosomal variations, familial clustering, and duplications or deletions of genetic material are all examples of which cause of schizophrenia? 

    Next
    1
    About StudySmarter

    StudySmarter is a globally recognized educational technology company, offering a holistic learning platform designed for students of all ages and educational levels. Our platform provides learning support for a wide range of subjects, including STEM, Social Sciences, and Languages and also helps students to successfully master various tests and exams worldwide, such as GCSE, A Level, SAT, ACT, Abitur, and more. We offer an extensive library of learning materials, including interactive flashcards, comprehensive textbook solutions, and detailed explanations. The cutting-edge technology and tools we provide help students create their own learning materials. StudySmarter’s content is not only expert-verified but also regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevance.

    Learn more
    StudySmarter Editorial Team

    Team Categories of Disorders Teachers

    • 9 minutes reading time
    • Checked by StudySmarter Editorial Team
    Save Explanation

    Study anywhere. Anytime.Across all devices.

    Sign-up for free

    Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App

    The first learning app that truly has everything you need to ace your exams in one place

    • Flashcards & Quizzes
    • AI Study Assistant
    • Study Planner
    • Mock-Exams
    • Smart Note-Taking
    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App