Mental health refers to one’s cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being, and is all about how one thinks, feels, and behaves. The term “mental health” is often used to express the absence of a mental disorder.

Mental health can affect one’s day-to-day life, actual relationships, and even physical wellness. Mental health also includes one’s ability to:

  • live life happily
  • balance routine activities such as work and home
  • handle stress
  • achieve psychological resilience during hardships


Mental Health - Definition

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), mental health is referred as follows, “...a state of well-being, in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stress of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

The WHO also stresses that mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder.

Causes Of Mental Health Disorders

Though there is no single cause that results in mental health disorders, the key causes shall be classified into three groups:

  • Biological factors
  • Psychological factors
  • Environmental factors

Only a certified mental health professional can accurately diagnose the causes of any mental health disorder. Some examples of such causes are listed below:

  • Certain biological factors such as having a family history of mental health disorder, make people more prone to developing one at some point in their life.
  • Psychological and environmental factors such as changes in brain chemistry caused by substance abuse and changes in diet shall also cause mental disorders.
  • Environmental and psychological factors such as, social exposure and upbringing shall form the foundations of harmful thought patterns that are associated with mental health disorders.

Certain risk factors may cause mental health problems. Some of the risk factors are illustrated in the picture.

Types Of Mental Illness

There are plenty of conditions, which are recognized as mental illnesses. Some of the more common mental illnesses and the less common ones are explained here.

More Common Types Of Mental Illness

The more common types of mental illnesses are:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Mood disorder
  • Psychotic disorder
  • Impulse control disorder
  • Addictions
  • Personality disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person

  • Responds to certain situations or objects inappropriately with fear and dread. The response includes physical signs of anxiety such as sweating and rapid heartbeat.
  • Cannot control the response to the situation or object
  • Cannot function normally as the anxiety interferes

Some of the common anxiety disorders are Panic disorder, Generalized anxiety disorder, specific Phobias, and Social anxiety disorder.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorder or Affective disorder or Depressive disorder is diagnosed when a person

  • Persistently feels sad
  • Periodically feels overly happy
  • Experiences fluctuating feelings of extreme sadness and extreme happiness

Some of the common mood disorders are Bipolar disorder, major Depression, Persistent depressive disorder, Cyclothymic disorder, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Psychotic Disorder

Psychotic disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences distorted awareness and thinking such as,

  • Hallucinations: Seeing images and hearing voices that are not real
  • Delusions: Accepting false fixed beliefs as true, and rejecting the evidence of truth.

The most common psychotic disorder is Schizophrenia.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorder is diagnosed when a person is experiencing extreme emotions, attitudes, and also behaviors involving body weight and food consumption. Some of the most common eating disorders are Binge eating disorder, Bulimia nervosa, and Anorexia nervosa.

Impulse Control And Addiction Disorders

Impulse control and addiction disorder is diagnosed when a person

  • Is unable to resist urges or impulses
  • Performs harmful acts inflicting themselves and/or others
  • Is too involved with the object of addiction or impulse and often forget their responsibilities and ignore the relationship with others

Some of the most common impulse disorders are Kleptomania (stealing), Pyromania (starting fires), and compulsive gambling. Some of the most common addictions are alcohol consumption and using drugs.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorder is diagnosed when a person

  • Has unreasonable and obstinate personality traits
  • Has indifferent pattern of thinking
  • Extreme and inflexible behavior
  • Cause problems to others in their social circle and environment and interfere with others’ functioning

Some of the most common personality disorders are Paranoid personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is diagnosed when a person is plagued by constant fear or thought, which forces him/her to perform certain actions as rituals or routines. The fear or thought is called the Obsession while the routine or ritual is called the Compulsion. A classic example of OCD is persons with an extreme fear of germs (and infection) who repetitively keep washing their hands.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is diagnosed when a person

  • Has lasting and frightening memories or thoughts of a traumatic and/or terrifying incident that they had either undergone or witnessed such as, sexual assault, physical abuse, sudden death of a loved one, or a natural catastrophe
  • Tend to be number after the trauma

Less Common Types Of Mental Illness

Some of the less common types of mental illnesses are:

  • Stress response syndrome
  • Dissociative disorder
  • Factitious disorder
  • Sexual and gender disorder
  • Somatic symptom disorder
  • Tic disorder

Stress Response Syndromes

Stress response syndrome, formerly known as Adjustment disorder, is diagnosed when a person

  • Develops emotional or behavioral symptoms after experience a stressful event or situation, shall be referred as Stressors
  • Develops the above-mentioned symptoms within 3 months of the occurrence of the event or situation

Some examples of stressors are natural disasters such as a tornado, traumatic events such as an accident, crises such as losing a job, and interpersonal problem such as a divorce. Usually, stress response syndromes end within 6 months when the stressor either stops or is eliminated.

Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative disorder is diagnosed when a person

  • Suffers from severe disturbances and fluctuations in their identity, consciousness, memory, and awareness about self and surroundings
  • Experiencing overwhelming stress as a result of experiencing or witnessing trauma, natural disaster, or a loss.

Some of the most common dissociative disorders are Depersonalization disorder or Dissociative identity disorder or Multiple personality disorder or Split personality.

Factitious Disorders

Factitious disorder is diagnosed when a person intentionally and deliberately

  • Makes up physical and/or emotional symptoms
  • Complains of these symptoms to get attention as if he/she is either patient or a person in dire need of help.

Sexual And Gender Disorders

Sexual and gender disorders are diagnosed when a person’s sexual desire, behavior, and performance are affected. Some of the common sexual and gender disorders are Sexual dysfunction, Paraphilia, and Gender identity disorder.

Somatic Symptom Disorders

Somatic symptom disorder, also known as psychosomatic disorder and formerly known as somatoform disorder, is diagnosed when a person experiences

  • Physical symptoms of either an illness or a pain
  • Severe and disproportionate distress
  • The above-mentioned symptoms and distress with or without any actual medical cause

Tic Disorders

Tic disorder is diagnosed when a person repeatedly displays uncontrollable, quick, and sudden vocal or body movements without any purpose. An example of tic disorder is Tourette’s syndrome.

Other Mental Illnesses

Some of the sleep-related disorders and some forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease are also considered as mental illnesses as they are associated with brain conditions.

Early Signs Of Mental Health Problems

Though there is no accurate measure to predict whether one will develop a mental health disorder, there are certain indicators, which may give clue about the same. The most common symptoms of people who are susceptible to mental health problems are:

  • Isolating themselves from society
  • Withdrawing from activities which they would usually enjoy
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Feeling like nothing really matters
  • Constantly feeling worn out
  • Excessively using drugs and succumbing to addictions
  • Feeling emotional
  • Feeling confused
  • Unable to perform routine tasks
  • Thinking of hurting themselves or others
  • Delusions
  • Hearing voices

Effects Of Mental Health Instability

Mental health problem has both short-term and long-term impact on the affected person. Apparently, mental health problems result in unappealing personalities or behaviors. Consequently,

  • In short-term, this causes isolation from their peers and social circle, anger, sadness, fear, helplessness as the affected persons are unable to comprehend what is happening
  • In long-term, it may even drive them crazy to commit suicide.

Treating Mental Health Problems

Treatment for mental health problems differs from one person to another. There are different types treatments available and a medical practitioner may prescribe different combinations of these treatments to different people to cure the illness. In addition, even for the same person, the treatment strategy will vary from time to time, which is based on the progress he or she is showing.

Types of mental health treatments include:


Also known as the talking therapy, psychotherapy, as the name suggests, approaches the problems psychologically.  Some of the examples are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Exposure Therapy.


Medications are generally used to help patients manage the symptoms of their illness. However, it cannot cure the problem.


Patients shall encourage themselves by making some lifestyle changes such as dealing with their addictions, such as not consuming alcohol, eating appropriate food and in the right quantity, and managing their sleep patterns and improving the sleep quality.

Seeking help is the first and foremost thing if you fear that you or your loved one may be suffering from a mental health issue. It is important to rule out the possibility of any physical illness, hence consult a doctor right away to schedule a physical check-up. In the event of lack of any physical illness, your doctor may recommend consulting a mental health professional. Usually, the appointment with a specialist consists of an individual interview. The symptoms are analyzed, evaluated, and the type of severity of the mental health problem is determined. Contact Shanghai SKY Clinic if you need any further assistance in this regard.