The terms “mental illness” and “mental disorder” are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two. A mental illness is a medical condition that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. A mental disorder is a broader term that can also include conditions that are not considered medical illnesses, such as personality disorders.

Here is a sheet table on the article:

TermDefinitionExamples
Mental illnessA medical condition that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder
Mental disorderA broader term that can also include conditions that are not considered medical illnesses, such as personality disorders.Personality disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), eating disorders, substance use disorders, sleep disorders
DifferenceA mental illness is a medical condition, while a mental disorder is a broader term that can include conditions that are not considered medical illnesses.
TreatmentMental illnesses are typically treated with medication or therapy, while mental disorders may be treated with a variety of approaches, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Which term to useThere is no right or wrong answer to the question of whether to use the term “mental illness” or “mental disorder.” Both terms are used by mental health professionals, and the choice of which term to use may depend on the context.
ResourcesThe National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

What is a Mental Illness?

A mental illness is a medical condition that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Changes in mood
  • Changes in thinking
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in physical health

Mental illnesses can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental factors. They can also be triggered by stressful life events.

What is a Mental Disorder?

A mental disorder is a broader term than mental illness. It can include conditions that are not considered medical illnesses, such as personality disorders. Personality disorders are long-term patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that cause significant problems in a person’s life.

Other examples of mental disorders include:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Sleep disorders

The Difference Between Mental Illness and Mental Disorder

The main difference between mental illness and mental disorder is that a mental illness is a medical condition, while a mental disorder is a broader term that can include conditions that are not considered medical illnesses.

Another difference is that mental illnesses are typically treated with medication or therapy, while mental disorders may be treated with a variety of approaches, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Which Term Should I Use?

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of whether to use the term “mental illness” or “mental disorder.” Both terms are used by mental health professionals, and the choice of which term to use may depend on the context.

In general, the term “mental illness” is more commonly used to refer to conditions that are considered medical illnesses. The term “mental disorder” is more commonly used to refer to conditions that are not considered medical illnesses, such as personality disorders.

It is important to remember that both mental illness and mental disorder are serious conditions that can have a significant impact on a person’s life. If you are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness or mental disorder, it is important to seek professional help.

FAQs:

What is the difference between mental illness and mental disorder?

A mental illness is a medical condition that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
A mental disorder is a broader term that can also include conditions that are not considered medical illnesses, such as personality disorders.

What are some examples of mental illnesses?

Depression
Anxiety
Schizophrenia
Bipolar disorder
Eating disorders
Substance use disorders
Sleep disorders

What are some examples of mental disorders?

Personality disorders
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Which term should I use, mental illness or mental disorder?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Both terms are used by mental health professionals, and the choice of which term to use may depend on the context.