A Collegiette's Guide to Common Mental Health Disorders

What exactly is mental health? People throw around terms all the time, diagnosing what they have or what the doctors claim that they have. Half the time, when these terms are labeled onto us, we don’t exactly know what they mean. To help you out, here are some basic definitions of what mental diagnoses there are and a website to help you find out more about them.

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder):

“Syndrome of disordered learning and disruptive behavior that is not caused by any serious underlying physical or mental disorder.”

Symptoms may include trouble staying motivated, lack of engagement, and explosive behavior.

ADHD (Attention Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder):

“Out of the normal range for a person's age and development. a problem of not being able to focus, being overactive, not being able control behavior, or a combination of these.”

Symptoms may include absent-mindedness, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.

Both ADD and ADHD information was obtained from:


Alcohol and Drug Abuse:

“A long-term, pathological use of alcohol or drugs. Which is characterized by daily intoxication, inability to reduce consumption, and impairment in social or occupational functioning.” Symptoms may include: not being able to perform daily functions, lack of interest, and irritable behavior.

Obtained from:



“Feelings of anxiety and fear about events and may cause physical symptoms.”

Symptoms may include racing thoughts, excessive worry, and restlessness.

Obtained from:


Bipolar Disorder:

“A brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function.”

Symptoms may include mood swings, irritable behavior, and body fatigue.

Obtained from:



“A mood disorder causing a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.”

Symptoms may include loss of interest, isolation, and lack of personal care.

Obtained from:


Eating Disorders:

“Disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder – include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males.”

Symptoms may vary. For binge eating, one may be hoarding and hiding food. For anorexia, one sign may be skipping meals.

Obtained from:


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

“A disorder of the brain and behavior. Causes severe anxiety dealing with obsessions and compulsions.”

Symptoms may include compulsive behavior, anxiety, and compulsive hoarding.

Obtained from:


PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder):

“A mental health conditions triggered by experiencing or seeing a terrifying event.”

Symptoms may include having flashbacks, emotional detachment, insomnia, or nightmares.

Obtained from: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp

While this is only a brief, compiled list of disorders, there are multiple other ones that people deal with on a daily basis. Each disorder affects individuals differently, so these definitions simply cannot cover the wide ranges of how everyone is affected by them. If you have questions or concerns about you or someone else you know, seek help; the campus has multiple resources to assist you, such as the counseling center.