What Is A Mental Health Condition?

A mental health condition is mental disorder, state, or disability that is associated with distress, risk of self-harm, or an impairment in functioning, according to the World Health Organization. These illnesses can impact your thinking, mood, and behavior and range in severity.

Common Mental Illnesses

Some common mental health conditions include:


The Anxiety & Depression Association of America found that Roughly 40 million Americans 18 and older are impacted by an anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental health condition.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the umbrella term used to classify different conditions, such as social anxiety, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some symptoms of GAD include excessive worry, irritability, and sleep issues.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Those with ADHD may struggle with overactivity, their ability to focus, or their inability to control various behaviors. These main symptoms distinguish which of the three categories of ADHD diagnosis is appropriate: inattentiveness, hyperactivity, or impulsivity.

Bipolar Disorder

A condition affecting mood regulation, individuals struggling with bipolar disorder experience intense shifts between manic highs and devastating lows. There are several types, with diagnosis depending on both the length and severity of the manic and depressive periods.

Body Dysmorphia (BDD)

Body dysmorphia is characterized by intrusive and incessant thoughts about one’s physical flaws, both real and perceived, and interferes with one’s ability to carry out daily functions.


Categorized by feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, despair, and decreased energy, depression can cause people to no longer enjoy life as they used to. At severe levels, it can also increase suicidal thoughts.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders stem from a place of internal distress around body image and food intake. Anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa are the most common eating disorders.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Caused by a devastating, dangerous, or otherwise traumatizing event, those living with PTSD (or related Complex-PTSD) experience physical, fear-based responses when faced with a triggering sound, word, or situation.


Due to a distorted perception of reality, schizophrenia is a mental health condition involving psychosis. Those suffering from schizophrenia experience hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, and jumbled thought processes.

Mental Health And Addiction

A substance use disorder (SUD) is classified as a brain disease characterized by a person’s inability to control their use of substances, such as drugs, alcohol, or medications, despite experiencing adverse consequences.

Many people diagnosed with an SUD also suffer from co-occurring mental health conditions.

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Early Warning Signs And Symptoms Of A Mental Health Condition

While each mental health condition has a specific set of symptoms associated with it, there are some general warning signs to look for if you are concerned a loved one may be struggling:

  • A marked change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Withdrawing from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb
  • Feeling helplessness or hopelessness
  • Smoking, drinking, or using substances more than usual
  • Changes in mood, such as being unusually confused, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Persistent and intrusive thoughts
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks

Causes And Risk Factors

Many different causes and factors raise your risk of experiencing a mental health condition. These include:

  • Childhood trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health conditions
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Easy access to substances
  • Biological factors such as genetics and brain chemistry

Many of the same risk factors exist for addiction as well. This is why many people with mental health conditions also have an addiction.

Mental Health Statistics



adults 18 and older qualified as having a mental health condition in 2022 (23% of adults in the US.)



of adults with a mental health condition are aged 18-25



adults are diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders

Why Is Mental Health Important For Overall Health?

Poor mental health can affect many aspects of our lives, leading to an overall decline in quality of life.

Sleep Problems – Approximately 50-80% of people with mental health conditions have a sleep disorder, with conditions like anxiety and depression often impacting sleep patterns. For example, anxiety can cause racing thoughts, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep, while depression disrupts neurotransmitter balance, often leading to insomnia and daytime drowsiness.

Chronic Diseases – Mental health conditions can create physiological changes, like hormonal imbalances, that can increase the risk of chronic diseases. For example, depression can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, while Schizophrenia has been shown to increase the risk for respiratory and heart diseases.

Mortality Rates – Mental health conditions can lead to a weakened immune system, making it harder for our bodies to fight off illnesses. Studies have found that the mortality rate from heart disease and cancer are both higher in those with depression and other mental health illnesses.

This direct link between our mental and physical health highlights the importance of seeking appropriate treatment to support and increase our quality of life.

Mental Health Treatment

Depending on both the illness itself and the severity, most mental health treatment involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a frequently utilized therapy because it helps the individual examine the root cause(s) of various behaviors and allows therapists to work with their clients to develop healthier and more conducive thought patterns.

Options like support groups can help those struggling feel less alone while still receiving support and encouragement from others with similar experiences.

In severe cases of distressed mental health, hospitalization might provide the right level of intensive care. There are different levels of hospitalized care, depending on your level of need:

  • Inpatient care means that you are staying in a hospital or treatment center for a length of time decided by healthcare professionals.
  • Intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization is a form of hospitalization where you do not stay overnight at the facility but you do attend multiple treatment sessions throughout the week, sometimes more than one per day.

Medications can help regulate the chemicals and synapses in the brain that may not be functioning as effectively as they should. Like therapy, there are many types of medication used to treat various illnesses. It’s important to consult and receive a prescription from a licensed mental health professional.

When Should I Seek Help For My Mental Health?

While sadness, fear, and stress are normal and healthy human responses, they can also overtake our thoughts and feelings, causing problems in our everyday lives. This is when seeking professional help can be extremely beneficial.

If you or someone you know is grappling with mental health concerns, online therapy can help you understand, address, and cope with the challenges that mental illness can bring. To learn more about your options, explore our online therapy directory today.