DEFINITION OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
There’s much “physical” in psychological disorders while at the same time, there is much psychological in “physical” disorders. The issues brought up by psychological disorders continue to be much clearer than their solutions and no meaning or description completely identifies precise limitations for the term “psychological disorder”. The idea of psychological disorder, like a number of other concepts in science and medicine, lacks a regular operational description or definition which covers every situation.
Psychological disorder is more or less better identified as a significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that happens with an individual which causes significant distress (for instance, an unpleasant symptom) or disability (that is, impairment in a number of important regions of functioning) or having a considerably elevated chance of suffering pain, death, discomfort, disability, or an essential lack of freedom. Additionally, this pattern or syndrome must not be an expected response to a particular event, for instance, when a loved one dies. Instead it’s a manifestation of mental, behavioral or biological disorder within the individual. Behavior that is deviant (e.g., religious, sexual or political) or conflicts which are mainly between the society and the individual are not psychological disorders, unless the conflict or deviance is really a characteristic of a disorder within the individual, as referred to above.
The Major Types of Psychological Disorders Are:
- Adjustment Disorders
- Anxiety Disorders
- Delirium, Dementia, and Amnestic and Other Cognitive Disorders
- Disorders Usually First Diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood, or Adolescence
- Dissociative Disorders
- Eating Disorders
- Factitious Disorders
- Impulse-Control Disorders
- Mental Disorders Due to a General Medical Condition
- Mood Disorders
- Other Conditions That May Be a Focus of Clinical Attention
- Personality Disorders
- Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders
- Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders
- Sleep Disorders
- Somatoform Disorders
- Substance-Related Disorders
Understanding Psychological Disorders
Psychological Disorders are widespread all over the world. In the United States, they affect adults, children & adolescents. Over 50% of adult population will experience some type of Psychological Disorder at some point in their life. Globally, Psychological Disorders rank second only to cardiovascular disease.
Psychological Disorders have been known to human kind at least for as long as human history had been recorded. Misunderstanding, stigma & discrimination have always followed alongside, and all of these are still present even in developed & educated societies. Information and education are the main means to reduce these. Even today, with all the research done by scientists, psychologists & psychiatrists in order to understand causes & improve treatments for psychological disorders, misunderstanding, stigma & mystery are still around the subject.
The definition and classification of psychological disorders are a key issue for effective treatment by providers of mental health services. Most international clinical documents use the term “mental disorder”. Surgeon General states that psychological disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior or some combination thereof, associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.
Psychological disorder is not a sign of weakness in individual’s character or lack of intelligence. It affects people of diverse groups that belong to all ages, genders, religions, occupational, economic & social circles. Psychological disorders may last a short period or many years or even a lifetime. Symptoms may occur from early childhood or develop later in life, with varying intensity, duration & consistency. The causes are often explained in terms of a diathesis-stress model or biopsychosocial model. In biological psychiatry, psychological disorders are conceptualized as disorders of brain circuits likely caused by developmental processes shaped by a complex interplay of genetics and life experiences, thus there are inborn, inherited & environmental factors.
A large percentage of people with psychological disorders remain untreated for various reasons. Some of the reasons are stigma, cost, unawareness & misunderstanding. Stigma can lead to mistreatment or discrimination towards mentally ill, which can affect person’s ability to have a functional social life or even ability to find a decent employment. The cost of treatment is generally expensive, in many cases the mentally ill have no means of affording these expenses, so many remain untreated because of this. For this reason mental health advocates are trying to push the treatment of the mentally ill to be more accessible through better insurance coverage & governmental health services, stating the financial, physical & psychological burden to the mentally ill, their families & society caused by psychological disorders. Unawareness by those who suffer & those around them can last for years causing a significant distress to their lives & relationships. Misunderstanding by families of the sufferers may also leave many untreated, which is more affecting children, teens & younger adults. Torrcy (1983, 1988) underlined the importance of families’ understanding the “inner world of mental madness”, the sympathy of family, friends & relatives is what makes the disorder bearable, where sympathy is the ability to put oneself in other person’s shoes, which is not as simple is it may sound.
Recently, there has been paid more attention to the influence of culture in person’s psychological distress. More psychologists & psychiatrists, practitioners as well as theorists, factor in culture for diagnosis & treatment. Cultural norms dictate whether a set of symptoms are considered “normal” or not. Culture can also make help for mental treatment more accessible or the other way around. Cultural concepts, values & beliefs can shape the way psychological disorders develop or are being treated, in many cases these values & beliefs can be the cause of the psychological disorder. Depending on culture symptoms may be expressed differently, public response to these expressions can greatly vary too, in many ways they are interconnected. Effective mental care can’t exist without taking the culture into the context. This can greatly affect diagnosis & coping strategies for the patient.