The 10 Most Common Adult Behavioral Disorders

Let me start with this –

“Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population age 18 and older every year. (National Institute of Mental Health)” –

Bipolar disorder affects a lot of people, and my research shows how many of these same people are living with other co-occurring disorders. Today, I’ll be going through the Top 10 Common Adult Behavioral Disorders and how (if applicable) they affect those living with bipolar disorder.

1) Behavioral Addiction

This is the most common behavioral disorder among adults and can have a negative impact on your mind, overall health, and progress. The severity depends on the type addiction you have, for example, if your addicted to shopping, drugs or alcohol. To define “behavioral addiction” we must understand it’s based on a reward. People engage in a behavioral pattern repeatedly even if it is causing them long-term harm so their brain can feel rewarded each time. This makes the addiction increasingly more difficult to overcome.

For many years after being diagnosed in 2000 with bipolar disorder, I suffered from alcohol abuse. It was a way for me to self-medicate and avoid the negative feelings I was having internally.

2) Schizophrenia

Those living with schizophrenia suffer hallucinations, delusions, and sometimes problems with their physiology. There is a strong connection between bipolar and schizophrenia. Research shows how the two disorders have a significant overlap of symptoms and share similar treatment strategies.

S.A Meda published a study in Biological Psychiatry comparing 5 regions within the brain. They mapped these regions to learn more about the connection between bipolar and schizophrenia. They discovered two shared regions in the brain that showed diminished interactions in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder when compared to the controlled patients. These were the same two areas affected in people living with both bipolar and schizophrenia. The extent to which someone experiences hallucinations and delusions depends on the severity of the condition.

“How do these 5 networks interact in persons with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder compared to healthy controls? It turns out that patients with schizophrenia had a diminished interaction between two of these specific networks when compared to either controls or persons with bipolar disorder. Patients with bipolar disorder demonstrated increased interactions between a different pair of networks when compared to patients with schizophrenia or controls. However, there were two networks that showed diminished interactions in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder when compared to controls.”-

3) Anxiety

Over the years, I’ve had to seek help for my anxiety issues. When referring to anxiety, we are not talking about slight worries, or concerns. Anxiety disorder is defined as the following –

“Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.” –

Anxiety develops during periods of extreme stress within your life. People living with bipolar disorder will develop anxiety disorder way before they are diagnosed. I was feeling the symptoms of bipolar two years before being diagnosed and this did take a toll on me mentally. Next,

Bipolar and anxiety share the same brain chemistry changes. They both are caused by a serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine imbalance.


This disorder makes it very hard for you to concentrate and sit still. Your ability to stay focused slowly decreases depending on the severity of your ADHD/ADD. Research has shown, there is a connection between bipolar and ADHD/ADD. For example, one study revealed – “In adults, the two disorders commonly occur together. Recent estimates find that 15 to 17 percent of persons with BMD also have ADHD. Conversely, 6 to 7 percent of people with ADHD also have BMD (10 times the prevalence found in the general population).”-

5) Depression

This is the fifth most common behavioral disorder among adults. I’m surprised it’s number five because depression affects millions of people.

If you’re living with depression, you know how it can suck the joy out of life. Just the term “bipolar” means to have two opposites. You’ll experience intense highs (mania) and then intense lows (depression). When experiencing depression, you sleep a lot, feel hopeless, change your eating habits, even lose your ability to stay focused on work.

6) OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

People joke about OCD, and some people have even said I’m suffering from OCD because I’m very precise in the way I do things. But, having OCD is no joke and should not be taken lightly. By definition, OCD is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. But, is there a connection between OCD and bipolar disorder?

“It has been estimated that between 10 to 35% of people with bipolar disorder also have OCD, with most reporting that their OCD symptoms started first.” –

A study even found that those living with bipolar disorder are 2-5 times more likely to develop OCD than other people with a major depressive disorder.

7) Eating Disorders

Many people even joke about eating disorders especially when someone is picky or selective in what they consume. But, having an eating disorder can disrupt your entire life. You’ll  spend a lot of time-consuming food and/or some will not even eat at all. This can have a negative impact on your health and well-being. It doesn’t help that several bipolar medications cause you to put on weight as a side effect.

Throughout my 17+ years of living with bipolar, I had to deal with an eating disorder phase, especially, during my depressive state.

8) Panic Disorder

To learn the difference between an anxiety disorder and panic disorder, read this article. There is a connection between bipolar disorder and panic disorder. Studies show roughly 1 in every 5 people with bipolar disorder also experiences panic disorder.

9) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD

A mental health disorder that people develop after going through a life-threatening event. Many who were in serious car accidents, natural disasters, or were in the army live with PTSD. Studies have found anywhere between 11% to 39% of bipolar patients also meet criteria for PTSD.

This is not surprising since people with bipolar disorder put themselves in high-risk situations while in a manic phase. They take risks, drive under the influence, and make impulsive decisions. But, PTSD can be the reason for some people to develop bipolar disorder. For example, a traumatic event during their childhood which led to depression i.e. sexual abuse, accident, physical abuse.

Having PTSD can reduce the quality of your life. It will leave you scared to try different things. Over time, it will also worsen your bipolar disorder if you don’t seek help right away. Not enjoying life and being alone for hours can worsen depression or even cause other mental disorders.

10) Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

I don’t know much about seasonal affective disorder, and it’s interesting to be reading about it now. It’s shocking how the season can affect your mental state. Seasonal affective disorder, by definition, is a type of depression related to seasonal changes. It starts and ends at the same time each year.

It’s the number ten most common behavioral disorder in adults affecting 5% of the US population each year. Wow.

The connection between bipolar and SAD is not clear. Some say the summer and spring can trigger mania, while winter and fall increase the onset of depression. I know for myself, a rainy day during the winter does put me in a depressed mood, but I’m sure it has nothing to do with SAD.

Final Thoughts

This is the first time I’m reading about the top 10 behavioral disorders in adults. I have certain blogs I visit daily, and found this content to be interesting. I didn’t know how those people living with bipolar also have one or more of the behavioral disorders above. I’m bipolar and have been diagnosed with ADHD too. But, I’m happy to have found a combination of medication that’s working well for me. Anyways, I hope this information was as insightful for you as it was for me.:)

What’s the main thing I learned?

The chemicals affected (serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) in the brain which causes bipolar are the same ones affected by some of the behavioral disorders above. This is why a misdiagnosis happens, and an effective treatment takes years to implement. Next, many symptoms are the same, and some doctors, think you have concurrent disorders. This is why I’m a big fan of asking a lot of questions and taking control of my own treatment.

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below 🙂

Helping others beat bipolar disorder. After living with Bipolar for over 16 years, I have self-educated myself to come up with creative ways to live a normal productive life. It`s time to give back by helping others transform!