Difference Between Disorder and Disability | Disorder vs Disability

Disorder vs Disability

To know and understand the difference between disorder and disability, you need to understand both the terms disorder and disability in detail. You should know what disorder is and what disability is. A person can understand both the terms, and then can easily make the difference.  So let’s move forward and try to know about both disorder and disability, and then their main differences.

Difference between Disorder and Disability

The terms disorder and disability can be very confusing, as they are often used in place of each other. Although, there is a big difference between disorder and disability. In day to day conversation, you may have heard people talking about various disabilities and disorders such as eating disorder, bipolar disorder, panic episodes, learning disability, intellectual and developmental disabilities, physical ailments, etc. So, it is important to known, what exactly is the difference between these two and how does a disorder differ from a disability?


A disorder refers to a disease that disrupts the proper functioning of the patient. In its primary stages, a disorder can be difficult to identify as it usually shows its symptoms a long time after it starts affecting. It is a long period of time after which the clear symptoms can be observed. This is why a specific time frame is explained before diagnosis. For example, a person is clinically diagnosed with PTSD or different Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, if the symptoms remain for over a month.

The term disorder is mainly associated with psychological disorders. A psychological disorder is a mental illness that influences the functioning of an individual. In other words, the individual has trouble completing his/her tasks of the daily life. Mental disorders can be caused due to various reasons ranging from incidents to genetics. These can be treated using restorative methods as well as medication. Some examples of disorders would be the panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, hypomania, delusional disorder, schizophrenia, lack of sleep disorder, etc.


A disability is a physical or mental condition that limits an individual’s movements, senses, and activities. This denotes that the individual loses the ability to perform the function of a particular part of the body, completely or partially. Disabilities can happen from illnesses, accidents, or even genetics. It can minimize a person’s ability to talk, learn, communicate and even affects movements. Several disabilities are obvious to others while some aren’t. Simultaneously, some disabilities are just for a short time while others are there for quite a long time, or may even be permanent.

There are various types of disabilities such as physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, learning afflictions, physical disfigurement, sensory problems, mental illnesses, neurological ailments, etc. In this world, in every society, there are people with ailments. This, however, should not be viewed from a negative point of view but must be embraced as a form of diversity.


  1. Descriptions of Disorder and Handicap:

Disorder: A disorder usually refers to a disease that disturbs the proper functioning.

Handicap: A disability is a physical or mental condition that limits the subject’s movements, senses, and activities.

  1. Characteristics of Disorder and Disability:
  • Treatment:

Disorder: Almost all of the disorders can be cured with medication, remedy and can be healed.

Disability: While some problems can be cured, but some cannot be cured although they can be reduced through the use of medication.

  • Examples:

Disorder: Panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, hypomania, delusional disorder, schizophrenia and going to bed disorder are some illustrations of disorders.

Disability: Physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, physical disfigurement, physical disabilities, mental illnesses and neurological disabilities couple of types of disabilities.

Now after reading these above main differences between disorder and disability, it should be in clear to what is disorder is and what is disability and what are their main differences. Also, I hope, this post will be very useful for you.