A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a diagnosis by a mental health professional of a behavioral or mental pattern that may cause suffering or a poor ability to function in life. Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitting, or occur as a single episode. Many disorders have been described, with signs and symptoms that vary widely between specific disorders.
The causes of mental disorders are often unclear. Theories may incorporate findings from a range of fields. Mental disorders are usually defined by a combination of how a person behaves, feels, perceives, or thinks. This may be associated with particular regions or functions of the brain, often in a social context. A mental disorder is one aspect of mental health. Cultural and religious beliefs, as well as social norms, should be taken into account when making a diagnosis.
Services are based in psychiatric hospitals or in the community, and assessments are carried out by psychiatrists, psychologists, and clinical social workers, using various methods but often relying on observation and questioning. Treatments are provided by various mental health professionals. Psychotherapy and psychiatric medication are two major treatment options. Other treatments include social interventions, peer support, and self-help. In a minority of cases there might be involuntary detention or treatment. Prevention programs have been shown to reduce depression.
Common mental disorders include depression, which affects about 400 million, dementia which affects about 35 million, and schizophrenia, which affects about 21 million people globally. Stigma and discrimination can add to the suffering and disability associated with mental disorders, leading to various social movements attempting to increase understanding and challenge social exclusion.