Most Common Psychological Disorders

Last Updated: Feb 24th 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

Most Common Psychological Disorders

Why does it make sense to discuss psychological disorders when talking about substance abuse? For starters, there’s a good chance that a mental illness may be one of the reasons for someone’s struggle with addiction. Secondly, the presence of mental health disorders can get worse during times of substance abuse. What conditions should you be aware of?

Stigma Leads to the Absence of a Diagnosis

Although mental illness is very common, it isn’t common for most people to admit that their is a problem. For various reasons, individuals who have psychological disorders or simply battle with their mental health, often they hesitate to come forward. They may not feel comfortable seeking out a diagnosis because no one really wants to admit that they may not be “normal”. As a result, they cannot adequately meet their mental health needs and more often than not, they person will begin self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol keeps unwelcome thoughts and feelings at bay, keeping the person in a vicious cycle of mental illness and substance abuse. 

Below is a list of the most common mental disorders that lead to dual diagnosis:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    • GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.
    • Women are twice as likely to be affected as men. GAD often co-occurs with major depression.
  • Bi-Polar Disorder (BPD)
    • It may affect as many as 60 million people worldwide.
    • More than half of all patients begin seeing symptoms between the ages of 15 and 25, but it can begin at any age.
    • There is no cure, but for many people state the symptoms can be controlled with treatment.
    • Bipolar Disorder is sometimes referred to as manic depression.
    • Some people may experience mood swings that are less extreme than a full manic episode, known as hypomania
    • People with Bi-Polar Disorder often also have other mental disorders.
  • Eating Disorders
    • 13 percent of women over the age of 50 have symptoms of an eating disorder.
    • The rate of children under 12 being admitted to a hospital for eating disorders rose 119 percent in less than a decade.
    • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, with nearly 1 person dying every hour as a direct result of an eating disorder.
    • Sufferers aren’t always underweight; about 35 percent of binge eating disorders and 30 percent of bulimia patients are medically obese.
    • Anorexia is the 3rd most common mental illness among adolescents, after asthma and obesity.
    • Over 70 percent of those who suffer with eating disorders will not seek treatment due to stigma, misconceptions, lack of education, diagnosis and lack of access to care.
  • Psychotic Disorder
    • Can include but are not limited to Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophreniform Disorder, Brief Psychotic Disorder, Delusional Disorder & Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder.
  • Panic Disorder (PD)
    • PD affects 6 million adults, or 2.7% of the U.S. population.
    • Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
    • SAD affects 15 million adults, or 6.8% of the U.S. population.
    • SAD is equally common among men and women and typically begins around the age of 13. According to a 2007 ADAA survey, 36% of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.
  • Specific Phobias
    • Specific phobias affect 19 million adults, or 8.7% of the U.S. population.
    • Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.
    • Symptoms typically begin in childhood; the average age-of-onset is 7 years old.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety disorders, which some may experience at the same time, along with depression.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    • OCD affects 2.2 million adults, or 1.0% of the U.S. population.
    • OCD is an equally psychological disorder common among men and women.
    • The average age of onset is 19, with 25 percent of cases occurring by age 14. One-third of affected adults first experienced mental illness symptoms in childhood.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • PTSD affects 7.7 million adults, or 3.5% of the U.S. population.
    • Women are more likely to be affected than men.
    • Rape is the most likely trigger of PTSD: 65% of men and 45.9% of women who are raped will develop this type of common mental disorder.
    • Childhood sexual abuse is a strong predictor of lifetime likelihood for developing PTSD.
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
    • The leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44 years.
    • MDD affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in any given year.
    • While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.5 years old.
    • More prevalent in women than in men.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) * formerly called dysthymia* is a form of depression that usually continues for at least two years.
    • Affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. (about 3.3 million American adults). Only 61.7% of adults with PDD are receiving treatment. The average age of onset is 31 years old.
  • Related & Common Mental Illnesses 
    • Many people with an anxiety disorder also have a co-occurring disorder or physical illness, which can make their symptoms worse and recovery more difficult. It’s essential to be treated for both psychological disorders and substance abuse.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety disorders, which some may experience at the same time, along with depression.

Most Common Co-Occurring Disorders (Dual Diagnosis)

  • Major Depression AND Stimulant Abuse/Addiction
  • cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription stimulants, like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta.
  • Panic Disorder AND Alcohol Abuse/Addiction
  • Wine and/or Spirits.
  • Schizophrenia AND Poly-Drug Abuse/Addiction and Alcohol Abuse/Addiction
  • Drugs Used in Conjunction with Methamphetamines:  Ecstasy, Cocaine, Dexamphetamine (Dexies) GHB (Liquid Ecstasy), Ketamine and/or LSD.
  • Wine and/or Spirits.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder with Episodic Poly-Drug Abuse/Addiction 
  • The Addict is in an Intoxicated State Without any Preference to a Particular Drug and/or Substance.

In a lot of cases, addiction and substance abuse appears to actually be the cause of common mental disorders, while in other cases, the opposite may occur.

Several common mental disorders come from similar factors such as addictive disorders; family history, brain chemistry and trauma in ones’ life. When it comes to recovery from co-occurring disorders and dual diagnosis, treatment must target both the mental illness AND the addictive disorder in order to produce effective, lasting and long term sobriety. 

Common Psychological Disorders Frequently Affect Substance Abuse Patients

In the absence of a mental health checkup, subsequent psychological disorder diagnosis, and eventual overall health treatment, individuals often feel helpless because they often confuse addiction as just that, addiction. In more cases than not, it’s a missed dual diagnosis of a mental illness or mental disorder that leads to the addiction or substance abuse.

They may know that something’s wrong but attempt to deal with the addiction or substance abuse on their own. Self-medication with drugs or alcohol is the most common result because of the stigma attached to psychological disorders. For this and the following reasons, a dual diagnosis treatment center can mean the difference between remaining an addict and long term mental health healing:

  • Comprehensive mental health evaluation pinpoints the primary psychological disorder and any secondary conditions.
  • Targeted therapies for mental disorders/mental illnesses management include talk therapy and prescribed medication use.
  • Development of coping skills, which take into account the effects of mental health disorders on daily life and activities.

Is it possible to undergo inpatient or outpatient treatment without a dual diagnosis? Although you could most certainly seek out this type of treatment, most would only only spot-fix the symptoms creating a much higher chance of relapse. While you might be able to give up the drug and/or alcohol for a little while, the underlying condition remains in place. Before long, there’s a high probability that you’ll return to using for self-medication and only increasing the severity of the psychological disorder and substance abuse.

The co-occurring condition (dual diagnosis) approach offers you a long-term way out of addiction and mental illness and helps pave the way to sobriety and sanity. Sure, there might still be setbacks along the way, but the therapies work to help you cope with REAL life. As you continue your mental health treatment and substance abuse counseling, you have a greater chance of remaining on track with rehabilitation aftercare which leads to long term sobriety and a healthier mind.

Is Mental Illness & Substance Abuse Adversely Affecting You?

It is possible that a mental disorder or illness is contributing to the substance abuse problem you may be experiencing right now, if you have the “not so” common ability to recognize that – then now is the time to seek REAL and lasting mental health treatment. Getting treatment for a common psychological disorder with dual diagnosis, will be stressful; but it doesn’t have to be difficult; let us show you how.

Consider this your first real step to taking back control by seeking only the best professional help, and get your life back!  One quick call to the qualified staff at 1st Step Behavioral Health can put you on the road to sobriety. Call (866) 319-6126 now or contact us here!

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.