Have you ever experienced any odd feelings or symptoms but unsure what they are? It can be very confusing and helpless when you’re unable to describe how you feel. It is also possible that you may be missing or overlooking certain signals that your body and mind are sending you. Many people may resort to self-diagnosing or seeking help from friends and family members who may or may not have some knowledge about mental health disorders, however, symptoms may vary according to individual. On top of that, people often receive faulty and inaccurate information from the internet and media. Most of the time, information that is found online can be biased or even exaggerated, hence, it can be distressing and overwhelming to process. This article will focus on the diagnoses for several mental health disorders that are common in the United States.

1. Depression

  • There are about 15 million Americans who suffer from Depression, it is also known as a complex condition as its symptoms may involve many systems of the body. People who suffer from depression have three times the risk of experiencing a cardiac event, which shows how depression can affect the entire body as it weakens the entire immune system.
  • According to the DSM-5, listed depressive disorders are disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), and more. Common features of all depressive disorders include presence of sadness, emptiness, or irritable mood which can affect one’s capacity to function.
  • Signs of depression include (and not limited to):
    • Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
    • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
    • Feelings of guilt
    • Worthlessness
    • Helplessness
    • Loss of interest in hobbies that were enjoyable
    • Decreased energy
    • Fatigue
    • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
    • Sleep disruptions (e.g., insomnia or oversleeping)
    • May or may not have thoughts of suicide
  • For more information:

2. Anxiety Disorders

  • Statistics have shown that around one-third of adults in the U.S. experience a sense of out-of-control anxiety in their lifetime. In many cases, depression is often accompanied with anxiety as both disorders share some similar symptoms.
  • As stated in the DSM-5, some anxiety disorders that are listed include separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, and more. In which, specific phobia and social anxiety disorder are more common among adults in the U.S. The common theme of anxiety disorders is fear, some may experience panic attacks when they respond to fear.
  • Signs of anxiety include (and not limited to):
    • Increased pulse rate
    • Dizziness
    • Muscle tension
    • Trembling or shaking
    • Dry mouth
    • Sweating
    • Stomachache
    • Headache
    • Short of breath
  • For more information:

3. Bipolar Disorder

  • A brain disorder that causes changes in one’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Individuals who experience bipolar disorders may go through intense emotional states, otherwise known as mood episodes, for days to weeks. In which, mood episodes are differentiated into two types, manic/hypomanic and depressive mood. Note that individuals who have this disorder may have times where they experience neutral mood as well. Bipolar disorder is categorized into three diagnoses, which are bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder.
  • Mania: an elevated state of mood and energy or activity. A manic episode includes inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, more talkative than usual, racing thoughts, and distractibility. More severe symptoms include delusions, paranoia, and violence erupt.
  • Hypomania: a condition which is like mania but milder. Symptoms are similar but they do not typically cause impairments in one’s work, school, or social interactions.
  • For more information:

Bipolar I

  • More severe than bipolar II. It includes features of all mood disorders; its symptoms come and go which make this disorder challenging to diagnose and treat.
  • Signs of bipolar I include (and not limited to):
    • Full-blown manic attacks
    • Severe depression and/or hypomanic episode

Bipolar II

  • Often known as the “soft bipolar” as it is less severe and milder compared to bipolar I.
  • Signs of bipolar II include (and not limited to):
    • Hypomanic episode
    • Depressive episode


  • Episodes of cyclothymia tend to be shorter, however some chronic cases may present for at least two years.
  • Signs of cyclothymia include (and not limited to):
    • Symptoms of hypomania
    • Symptoms of mild depression

Above are the diagnoses of some mental health disorders that are more common in the United States. If you or someone you know who may be experiencing such symptoms, do talk and seek professional help. Some symptoms may be manageable, but others may not be, therefore, it is necessary to seek treatment early on.

By, Jessica Lau, MHC Intern