In adults, symptoms of mental disorders vary, depending on the type and severity of the condition.

Some general symptoms that may suggest a mental illness include:

  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Confused thinking
  • Delusions or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there)
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety
  • Extremely high and low moods
  • Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability
  • Many unexplained physical problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Thoughts of suicide

There are many different conditions that are recognized as adult mental illnesses.

The more common types include:


Abuse is an attempt to control the behaviour of another person. It is a misuse of power which manipulates the bonds of intimacy, trust and dependency to make the abused individual vulnerable. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, or a combination of any or all of these.

Adjustment disorder:

Adjustment disorder occurs when a person develops emotional or behavioural symptoms in response to a stressful event or situation. The stressors may include natural disasters, such as an earthquake; events or crises, such as a car accident or the diagnosis of a major illness; or interpersonal problems, such as a divorce, death of a loved one, and/or the loss of a job.

Affective (Mood) disorders:

hese disorders involve persistent feelings of sadness or periods of feeling excessively happy, or fluctuations from extreme happiness to extreme sadness. The most common mood disorders are depressionmania, and bipolar disorder.

Anxiety disorders:

Adults with anxiety disorders respond to certain objects or situations with fear and dread, as well as with physical signs of anxiety or nervousness, such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating. An anxiety disorder is diagnosed if the person’s response is not appropriate for the situation, or if the anxiety interferes with normal functioning. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.

Complicated Grief:

Complicated grief is an intense and long-lasting form of grief that takes over a person’s life. People with complicated grief know their loved one is gone, but they still cannot accept the loss no matter how much time has passed. They find it hard to imagine that life without the deceased person has purpose or meaning and may have strong feelings of bitterness or anger related to the death.

Eating disorders:

Eating disorders involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviours involving weight and food. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the most common eating disorders.

Personality disorders:

People with personality disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits that are distressing to the person and/or cause problems in work, school, or social relationships. In addition, the person’s patterns of thinking and behaviour significantly differ from the expectations of society and are so rigid that they interfere with the person’s normal functioning. Examples include antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder.

Psychotic disorders:

Psychotic disorders involve distorted awareness and thinking. Two of the most common symptoms of psychotic disorders are hallucinations — the experience of images or sounds that are not real, such as hearing voices — and delusions, which are false fixed beliefs that the ill person accepts as true, despite evidence to the contrary. Schizophrenia is an example of a psychotic disorder.

Somatoform disorders:

An adult with a somatoform disorder, formerly known as psychosomatic disorder, experiences physical symptoms of an illness, even though a doctor can find no medical cause for the symptoms.

Suicidal thoughts/ attempts:

Suicidal thoughts/attempts are generally associated with depression; however, it seems to have associations with other mental disorders (E.g. Borderline personality disorder and Substance abuse), traumatic life events and family events, all of which may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts/attempts. Suicide and suicidal behaviour are never normal responses to stress. A suicide attempt or suicidal thoughts must always be taken seriously. Without intervention and proper treatment, a person who has attempted suicide before or is thinking about attempting suicide, is at a greater risk of harming themselves.

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided on this page is not meant to replace a licensed mental health professionals diagnosis, advice and care. Please keep in mind, that just because a person displays certain symptoms of a disorder, it does not necessarily mean that the individual has the disorder. Certain symptoms can be associated with any number of disorders, therefore only a trained licensed mental health care professional can make that diagnosis and assessment. If you have any questions regarding mental health symptoms, I suggest you contact me for further clarification. Remember, the above mentioned symptoms list is strictly intended as an educational tool and its use for any other purpose is strictly prohibited. Also, keep in mind, this list is brief and does not cover every psychological disorder that is in existence; instead it focuses on the various common child and adolescent disorders and is meant to provide insight on them. Sourced from: WebMD Medical Reference