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A Guide to Lesser-Known Mental Disorders

by Khushi Popat

Disclaimer: This article deals with sensitive mental health topics. If you need help, please contact a mental health professional.

Did you know that October 10th is celebrated as World Mental Health Awareness Day? When we talk about mental health, the two most common disorders that come to mind are anxiety and depression. However, those aren’t the only mental health disorders that people suffer from. Many other mental health illnesses need to be brought to light.

This is a guide to lesser-known mental disorders, symptoms of the disorders, and what you can do to help someone with them. This guide is not intended for self-diagnosis. If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health, please contact a mental health professional. Here are a few of the mental health disorders that aren’t as common:

Mood Disorder

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes an individual to undergo extreme mood swings, including emotional highs and lows. The disorder can affect sleep, energy levels, activity levels, judgment abilities, and rationality of thoughts. While these can seem intimidating, in most cases, medication can help manage bipolar disorder.

If you know someone going through a manic or depressive episode, be understanding and patient with them. You need to understand that the person undergoing the episode is not in control of their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

To reassure them, you can say things like, "I am here when you need me," or "I want to be there for you and support you through this."


Cyclothymia is a less intense form of bipolar disorder. When a person is diagnosed with cyclothymia, they can typically function in their daily lives. However, it can be hard to adapt to a routine because you never know when you experience a manic or depressive episode. Always be willing to listen and be understanding when you meet a person experiencing a high or low.

Psychotic Disorders

Psychotic disorders are severe mental health disorders that cause abnormal thinking and perception. People diagnosed with psychosis often lose touch with reality. The most common symptoms of psychotic disorders are delusions and hallucinations.


One of the most common forms of psychotic disorder is schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia can hear voices that aren't there. They can also believe that somebody is trying to hurt them when there is no evidence of it. More often than not, basic activities like communication with others become difficult for the people diagnosed with the disorder. In cases with severe schizophrenia, people are hospitalized because they are believed to be dangerous to themselves. Unfortunately, there is no cure for schizophrenia, but some medication can help control the disorder. Therapy can also help manage the symptoms to a great extent.

To help someone suffering from schizophrenia, be ready to listen even when you can’t relate to what they are experiencing. Don’t try to explain that they are experiencing something that isn’t actually happening because that will only make them feel invalidated and will result in them withdrawing from sharing their experience and feelings. When dealing with mental health disorders, people usually feel that asking questions will offend the other person. However, in most cases, this is untrue. People don’t mind answering questions about their situation, as long as the questions are asked politely. Always ask questions and attempt to understand what goes on in the other person’s mind. Keeping a person with schizophrenia engaged can help divert their mind for some time. Remember to check in with them regularly to make them feel included and loved.

Eating Disorders


Anorexia is an eating disorder in which an individual has an intense fear of gaining weight. People with anorexia will go to any limit to restrain themselves from gaining weight. They use harsh methods like starvation, restraining food intake, or obsessing over the calorie intake to prevent weight gain or to lose weight. Anorexic patients believe that they are not worthy unless they are extremely thin. Anorexia can be life-threatening, so if you suspect a person of being anorexic, try to get them some medical and psychological help as soon as possible. Always be mindful of your words around everyone because we never know what a person is going through and how our words can impact them.

Watching a loved one battle anorexia can be hard, but it is important to remember to be kind and careful of your words when you are expressing your concerns with them. Using language like, “You aren’t really fat,” or “You have nothing to worry about” can cause more harm than good. Instead of focusing on their physical features, complimenting their personality, intellectual capacity, and other features unrelated to their physical appearance can boost their self-esteem. Using positive reinforcement and building a healthy relationship around food by depicting that food is just a source of energy rather than an estimate of self-worth can potentially help a person with anorexia. For some people, talking to other people going through the same situation can help. You can suggest your loved one attend an eating disorder support group and offer to go with them if that makes them feel comfortable. Be patient and don’t rush because your loved one is healing from trauma and body image issues.


Bulimia is a condition where a person will eat large amounts of food with no control over their eating habits and then try to get rid of the extra calories in many unhealthy ways. People suffering from bulimia often try self-inducing vomit, misusing laxatives, and weight loss supplements. They also try fasting, restraining food intake, and obsessing over calorie intake. Bulimia patients often obsess over body image, and it can affect their health and negatively impact their lives. Getting someone living with bulimia immediate help can help save their lives and teach them to love themselves in every shape and size.

Personality Disorders

Antisocial personality disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health disorder where a person shows no regard for what is right and wrong and consistently ignores the rights and feelings of others. They often tend to intimidate, threaten, and treat others harshly. Individuals with antisocial personality disorder often end up violating the law and have a higher tendency to display criminal behavior. They are likely to lie, behave violently, and be addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Therapy is one of the most effective ways to manage the intensity of the antisocial personality disorder. Treatment is also helpful if the symptoms aren’t severe or are diagnosed at an earlier stage in life. If your loved one is under 18 and refusing to get treatment, you can get treatment court-mandated for them. The legal procedures can take a while and are expensive, but it is important to know about the legalities of the mental disorder. Understanding that antisocial personality disorder isn’t just about the reluctance of an individual to take part in a social setting, but a much more serious condition with severe repercussions can help you navigate the disorder better. Consulting with a mental health professional and getting your loved one the help they need is the best support you can offer.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition where an individual has recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, and sensations (known as obsessions), and this leads to them doing a certain action repeatedly (known as compulsions). For individuals diagnosed with OCD, these thoughts are persistent and trouble them if they don’t act on it with a certain behavior. People with OCD often have difficulty distracting themselves from obsessive thoughts and stopping themselves from doing compulsive actions. Therapy and medication can help with mild cases of OCD. In the case of severe OCD, a neurosurgical treatment is also suggested. If you come across a person doing a compulsive action, don’t mock them. Instead of embarrassing them, be open with communication, ask questions if they don’t mind, and be willing to understand their point of view.

Mental health is a serious concern. With increasing awareness of anxiety and depression, the lives of thousands of individuals have been saved because people are aware, the symptoms, and they are able to get the right treatment at the right time. This article aims to bring the other mental health illnesses to light so that more people become aware of the disorders and are able to get either themselves or someone they know treated and save a life. This is also a gentle reminder to be mindful of your words and actions and to always be kind to everybody because we are all fighting our own battles silently. Be kind and get help if you need it!

Below are a few helpline numbers around the world for you and your loved ones to receive help from a mental health professional:

United States:

  1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - +1-800-273-8255

  2. Three-digit Suicide Prevention Hotline - 988

  3. Veteran/Military Crisis Line - +1-800-273-8255

United Kingdom:

  1. National Suicide Helpline UK - 0800 689 5652

  2. Calm (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a help and support group for men aged 15-35 struggling with depression and suicide - 0800 585858

  3. No Panic is an organization that offers telephonic support for individuals suffering from panic attacks, phobias, and OCDs. Their helpline is available from 10am-10pm - 0844 967 4848

  4. Refuge offers 24-hour support to women and children experiencing domestic abuse - 0808 2000 247

  5. Narcotics Anonymous offers help to anyone having a drug problem - 0300 999 1212

  6. Beat offers support to the people in the UK who have or are worried they have an eating disorder. This helpline is also for friends and family of the person suffering from an eating disorder - 0808 801 0677 (adult) and 0808 801 0711 (for under 18s)

  7. YoungMinds is a helpline for parents in the UK who are worried their children are undergoing emotional problems, behavioral, or mental health issues - 0808 802 5544


  1. Crisis Service Canada - 1.833.456.4566

  2. First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Helpline is an organization that offers 24-hour immediate help to all Indigenous people across Canada who are experiencing emotional distress - 1-855-242-3310

  3. Kids Help Phone offers free 24/7 professional counseling, text-based support to all the young people in Canada in both English and French - 1-800-668-6868

  4. Trans Lifeline offers 24-hour support to all the trans people in Canada who are in crisis or want somebody to talk to - 877-330-6366


  1. SNEHA offers 24-hour emotional support to anyone in India who is feeling distressed, depressed, or suicidal - 4424640050

  2. SAATH offers unconditional emotional support to people in India who are in need of help. You can reach SAATH through telephone, letter, email, or in-person between 1:00pm - 7:00pm - 0091 79 26305544


  1. SAPTEL provides crisis dialogue or treatment for anything related to mental health throughout Mexico - (55) 5259-8121

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