Chapter summary imageHow can we explain mental disorders?

WHAT ARE MENTAL DISORDERS?

  • A mental disorder is a disturbance that impairs a person’s ability to form social and occupational relationships, involves serious, prolonged distress, and is viewed by mental health professionals as harmful, deviant, and dysfunctional.
  • Mental disorders may vary across cultures. Culture-bound syndromes and cultural expectations affect the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses across cultures.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE CAUSES OF MENTAL DISORDERS?

  • Irreversible brain damage can cause psychological damage. Degenerative memory diseases such as Alzheimer’s occur because of neuron deterioration in the brain.
  • Predisposing factors such as genetics, birth defects, and toxins such as alcohol make individuals susceptible to particular psychological disorders.
  • Environmental influences can trigger mental disorders in individuals who are biologically predisposed to develop those disorders.

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR TYPES OF MENTAL DISORDERS, AND WHAT ARE THEIR CHARACTERISTICS?

  • Anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent, often unidentifiable feelings of anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all types of anxiety disorders.
  • Mood disorders come in two main forms: depressive disorders, characterized by long, extreme periods of depression, and bipolar disorders, characterized by alternating episodes of depression and mania. Major depressive disorder, dysthymia, and seasonal affective disorder are all types of clinical depression.
  • Schizophrenia is often characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized or catatonic behaviour.
  • Personality disorders are characterized by rigid, abnormal patterns of behaviour that affect normal social functioning. There are three types of personality disorders: odd/eccentric, dramatic/ erratic, and anxious/inhibited.
  • Dissociative disorders cause a sudden loss in memory or change of personality. Dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, and dissociative identity disorder are types of dissociative disorders.
  • Somatoform disorders, including somatization disorder, hypochondriasis, and conversion disorder, are characterized by physical symptoms without an identifiable cause.
  • Childhood disorders are characteristic of children or first evident in childhood. Prevalent childhood disorders include ADHD, autism, and Asperger syndrome.