Psychological Disorders – Part 1

“What health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”

– Glenn Close

Introduction

The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defines mental disorder as a syndrome characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognitive, emotion regulation, or behaviour that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental process underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities. Psychologists focus on behaviour rather than actions. Behaviour that is considered maladaptive and causes significant personal distress and interrupts daily functioning is mostly labelled as a disorder.

What is the DSM?

The DSM is a handbook that is used by health care professionals over the world as a guide to diagnosing mental disorders. It gives a list of descriptions and symptoms related to every recognized mental disorder. The way physicians have a list of symptoms to check for physical health issues to not diagnose things differently from other physicians, the DSM plays the same role for psychologists, it helps in keeping a common diagnosis to not create chaos and confusion.

MAJOR CATEGORIES OF DISORDERS IN DSM-5:

Neurodevelopmental Disorders

These consist of disorders that are usually diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence like Intellectual Disability, this developmental disorder is originally detected before 18 years of age. This includes limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviours. This disorder was formerly known as mental retardation. The test to check intellectual ability is the IQ test, if the IQ score is under 70, it points towards intellectual limitations. Limitations in adaptive behaviour can involve a lack of efficiency at everyday things such as self-care, social interaction, and other living skills.

Communication Disorders are related to difficulty in the ability to use, understand, or detect language and speech. The DSM-5 further divides this disorder into four parts – language disorder, speech sound disorder, childhood-onset fluency disorder (stuttering), and social communication disorder.

Autism Spectrum Disorder includes persistent deficits in social interaction and communication. The DSM says that the symptoms for this must be noticed in the early developmental period and these symptoms should interfere in the important parts of life which include social and occupational functioning.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) consists of a persistent pattern of hyperactivity-impulsivity and/or inattention which interferes in the normal working during the day. This can show up at home, school, work, and social situations.

Bipolar Disorders

This disorder consists of a shift in mood from extremely elevated moods to a depressive period. The elevated moods are called mania or hypomania. Mania is the mood when there is a period of elevated, expansive, and irritable mood with increased activity and energy. This period is usually accompanied by excessive confidence. During this period, people tend to engage in activities that can have a negative long-term impact such as buying a mansion without considering the finances.

Depressive Episodes consist of feelings of depression or sad mood with a lack of interest in activities. It also includes feelings of guilt, fatigue, and irritability. People going through this period can experience difficulty in sleeping and also have suicidal thoughts.

Conclusion

It is very important to understand the depression is different from being sad and similarly being very happy is also different from mania. It should be noted that before assuming a disorder and starting medication, you should consult a psychologist and follow the treatment recommended by them. It should also be understood that if a child is showing signs of a neurodevelopmental disorder, you should take them to a doctor or a psychologist and should not brush it off and scold them for it.

References

NOTE: this is just the Part 1 of the Psychological Disorders series.