COUNSELLING BLOG

Posts tagged abnormal behaviour

17 notes

Diagnosing Abnormal Behaviour

The following are considered by professionals when categorising normal and abnormal behaviour:

·         Statistical infrequency

·         Violation of norms

·         Personal distress

·         Disability or dysfunction, and

·         Unexpectedness

Statistical Infrequency

Abnormal behaviour is noticeable because it occurs infrequently. A case in point is schizophrenia which affects one per cent of the general population. However, infrequency alone does not constitute a reason for a diagnosis. For example, very few people are top athletes but we do not think of them as being abnormal.

Violation of norms

Abnormal behaviours contravene social norms (Although we need to consider the person’s culture, too.)

For example, when a person says a voice inside their head is telling them to kill themselves or other people, this is clearly unusual and a cause for concern. However, if a young person sleeps on the streets for a week to try and understand what it is like to be homeless - this is viewed as being different, but not as being abnormal.

Personal distress

People who experience intense distress will usually need some help to function normally. For example, someone who is suffering from extreme anxiety may benefit from having prescription medication.

 However, experiencing distress in the midst of a trauma is something we expect – so this is not “abnormal”.

Disability or dysfunction

This is where a person cannot function in a way that allows them to continue with their everyday life, or fulfil their normal responsibilities. For example, a person who is suffering from agoraphobia may not be able to work, or take their kids to school. However, if you’re short and you want to make the basketball team, then your height’s a disadvantge, not a disability.

Unexpectedness

There are certain events that cause a person to react in extreme, unusual or disturbing ways. For example, screaming and crying uncontrollably when you hear that your brother has been killed in a crash. However, the reacting in this way when you miss the bus to work would be viewed as extreme, and irrational. That is, we need to consider what is happening at the time when assessing what is normal and abnormal behaviour.       

Filed under counselling therapy psychology abnormal behaviour mental illness mental health online counselling college

31 notes

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

This disorder is characterised by having an inflated sense of one’s own importance, and a deep desire for admiration. The person has little regard for the wishes, needs or feelings of other people and believes that they are genuinely superior to the people in their life. However, behind the haughty and confident mask is a very fragile self-esteem that crumbles at the slightest criticism.

To be diagnosed with this particular disorder, the person must exhibit at least five of the following traits:

·         Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates their talents and achievements; expects to be viewed as superior to others).

·         Is preoccupied with fantasies related to their personal success, power, brilliance, beauty, or love. Believes that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people.

·         Has a sense of entitlement (expects special treatment from others, and also expects other people to comply with their wishes and demands).

·         Uses others for their own ends; lacks empathy; refuses to recognise or accept the feelings and needs of others.

·         Is envious of others - and at the same time believes that other people are envious of them.

·         Displays arrogant and haughty attitudes.

The cause of the disorder is unknown. It could be due to extremes in child rearing practices. For example, where the parents need their child to be “special” in some way - in order to bolster their own self-esteem. Alternatively, it may be a response to neglect, abuse or trauma inflicted by authority figures in their childhood. Psychotherapy or counselling is usually recommended – but success rates are generally very poor. There are no recommended drug treatments.

Filed under Narcissistic Personality Disorder counselling psychology therapy psychiatry abnormal behaviour social work relationships mental illness self help online counselling college DSM psychological disorders

19 notes

Antisocial Personality Disorder

This personality disorder is characterised by deceit and lying, manipulation, persistent disregard for the rights of others, and criminal behaviour. It is evident in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.  Sociopathic personality disorder is a severe form of antisocial personality disorder.

To receive a diagnosis the person must exhibit at least 3 of the following symptoms:

·         Repeatedly engaging in criminal behaviour.

·         Deceptive behaviours such as chronic lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.

·         Impulsivity – do not think about the consequences of their actions.

·         Reactivity and aggressiveness that causes the person to get into fights

·         Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others

·         Consistent irresponsibility (for example, doesn’t turn up for work or honour financial obligations)

·         Lacks remorse; indifferent to the pain and harm they cause others

With respect to causes, it has been suggested that some individuals may inherit a genetic vulnerability to the disorder. This is then triggered by life situations, such as excessive stress. There may also be a link between an early lack of empathy and later onset of antisocial personality disorder. However, according to the Mayo clinic, “antisocial personality disorder is notoriously difficult to treat. People with this disorder may not even want treatment or think they need treatment. But because antisocial personality disorder is essentially a way of being, rather than a curable condition, affected people are likely to need close, long-term care and follow-up”. Possible treatment options include: counselling (especially CBT); anger management skills training; prescription drugs for conditions associated with the disorder (such as antipsychotic drugs); and hospitalization or residential programmes for those whose symptoms are very severe.

Filed under counselling psychology psychiatry therapy abnormal behaviour psychological disorders mental illness antisocial personality disorder online counselling college

24 notes

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder is a type of chronic mental illness in which you can’t stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance — a flaw that is either minor or imagined. But to you, your appearance seems so shameful that you don’t want to be seen by anyone. Body dysmorphic disorder has sometimes been called “imagined ugliness.”

When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, often for many hours a day. You may seek out numerous cosmetic procedures to try to “fix” your perceived flaws, but never will be satisfied. Body dysmorphic disorder is also known as dysmorphophobia, the fear of having a deformity.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include:

·         Preoccupation with your physical appearance

·         Strong belief that you have an abnormality or defect in your appearance that makes you ugly

·         Frequent examination of yourself in the mirror or, conversely, avoidance of mirrors altogether

·         Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way

·         The need to seek reassurance about your appearance from others

·         Frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction

·         Excessive grooming, such as hair plucking

·         Extreme self-consciousness

·         Refusal to appear in pictures

·         Skin picking

·         Comparison of your appearance with that of others

·         Avoidance of social situations

·         The need to wear excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws

You may obsess over any part of your body, but common features people may obsess about include nose, hair, skin, complexion, wrinkles, acne and blemishes, baldness, breast size, muscle size and genitalia. The body feature you focus on may change over time. You may be so convinced about your perceived flaws that you become delusional, imagining something about your body that’s not true, no matter how much someone tries to convince you otherwise.

When to see a doctor
Shame and embarrassment about your appearance may keep you from seeking treatment for body dysmorphic disorder. But if you have any signs or symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, see your doctor, mental health provider or other health professional. Body dysmorphic disorder usually doesn’t get better on its own, and if untreated, it may get worse over time and lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior.

Causes

It’s not known specifically what causes body dysmorphic disorder. Like many other mental illnesses, body dysmorphic disorder may result from a combination of causes:

·         Brain chemical differences. Some evidence suggests that naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are linked to mood, may play a role in causing body dysmorphic disorder.

·         Structural brain differences. In people who have body dysmorphic disorder, certain areas of the brain may not have developed properly.

·         Genes. Some studies show that body dysmorphic disorder is more common in people whose biological family members also have the condition, indicating that there may be a gene or genes associated with this disorder.

·         Environment. Your environment, life experiences and culture may contribute to body dysmorphic disorder, especially if they involve negative experiences about your body or self-image.

Risk Factors

Although the precise cause of body dysmorphic disorder isn’t known, certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering the condition, including:

·         Having biological relatives with body dysmorphic disorder

·         Childhood teasing

·         Low self-esteem

·         Societal pressure or expectations of beauty

·         Having another psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety or depression

Body dysmorphic disorder usually starts in adolescence. It affects men and women in similar numbers.

Complications

Complications that body dysmorphic disorder may cause or be associated with include:

·         Suicidal thoughts or behavior

·         Repeated hospitalizations

·         Depression and other mood disorders

·         Anxiety disorders

·         Obsessive-compulsive disorder

·         Eating disorders

·         Social phobia

·         Substance abuse

·         Low self-esteem

·         Social isolation

·         Difficulty attending work or school

·         Lack of close relationships

·         Unnecessary medical procedures, especially cosmetic surgery

·         The need to stay housebound

Treatment

Treatment of body dysmorphic disorder can be difficult, especially if you aren’t a willing and active participant in your care. But effective treatment can be successful. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on teaching you healthy behaviors, such as being social and avoiding obsessive behaviors, such as mirror checking. Therapy can help you learn about your condition and your feelings, thoughts, mood and behavior. Using the insights and knowledge you gain in psychotherapy, you can learn to stop automatic negative thoughts and to see yourself in a more realistic and positive way. You can also learn healthy ways to handle urges or rituals, such as mirror checking or skin picking. You and your therapist can talk about which type of therapy is right for you, your goals for therapy, and other issues, such as the number of sessions and the length of treatment.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/body-dysmorphic-disorder/DS00559

 

Filed under Body Dysmorphic Disorder Psyhology counselling therapy abnormal behaviour psychiatry psychotherapy CBT psychological disorders mental health mental illness

198 notes

Borderline Personality Disorder

The main feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and emotions. People with borderline personality disorder are also usually very impulsive.

This disorder occurs in most by early adulthood. The unstable pattern of interacting with others has persisted for years and is usually closely related to the person’s self-image and early social interactions. The pattern is present in a variety of settings (e.g., not just at work or home) and often is accompanied by a similar lability (fluctuating back and forth, sometimes in a quick manner) in a person’s emotions and feelings. Relationships and the person’s emotion may often be characterized as being shallow. A person with this disorder will also often exhibit impulsive behaviors and have a majority of the following symptoms:

·         Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

·         A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation

·         Identity disturbance, such as a significant and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self

·         Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)

·         Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

·         Emotional instability due to significant reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

·         Chronic feelings of emptiness

·         Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

·         Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms

As with all personality disorders, the person must be at least 18 years old before they can be diagnosed with it. Borderline personality disorder is more prevalent in females (75 percent of diagnoses made are in females). It is thought that borderline personality disorder affects approximately 2 percent of the general population. Like most personality disorders, borderline personality disorder typically will decrease in intensity with age, with many people experiencing few of the most extreme symptoms by the time they are in the 40s or 50s.

Details about Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms

1.    Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment: The perception of impending separation or rejection, or the loss of external structure, can lead to profound changes in self-image, emotion, thinking and behavior. Someone with borderline personality disorder will be very sensitive to things happening around them in their environment. They experience intense abandonment fears and inappropriate anger, even when faced with a realistic separation or when there are unavoidable changes in plans. For instance, becoming very angry with someone for being a few minutes late or having to cancel a lunch date. People with borderline personality disorder may believe that this abandonment implies that they are “bad.” These abandonment fears are related to an intolerance of being alone and a need to have other people with them. Their frantic efforts to avoid abandonment may include impulsive actions such as self-mutilating or suicidal behaviors.

2.    Unstable and intense relationships: People with borderline personality disorder may idealize potential caregivers or lovers at the first or second meeting, demand to spend a lot of time together, and share the most intimate details early in a relationship. However, they may switch quickly from idealizing other people to devaluing them, feeling that the other person does not care enough, does not give enough, is not “there” enough. These individuals can empathize with and nurture other people, but only with the expectation that the other person will “be there” in return to meet their own needs on demand. These individuals are prone to sudden and dramatic shifts in their view of others, who may alternately be seen as beneficient supports or as cruelly punitive. Such shifts other reflect disillusionment with a caregiver whose nurturing qualities had been idealized or whose rejection or abandonment is expected.

3.    Identity disturbance: There are sudden and dramatic shifts in self-image, characterized by shifting goals, values and vocational aspirations. There may be sudden changes in opinions and plans about career, sexual identity, values and types of friends. These individuals may suddenly change from the role of a needy supplicant for help to a righteous avenger of past mistreatment. Although they usually have a self-image that is based on being bad or evil, individuals with borderline personality disorder may at times have feelings that they do not exist at all. Such experiences usually occur in situations in which the individual feels a lack of a meaningful relationship, nurturing and support. These individuals may show worse performance in unstructured work or school situations.

How is Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

Personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder are typically diagnosed by a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Family physicians and general practitioners are generally not trained or well-equipped to make this type of psychological diagnosis. So while you can initially consult a family physician about this problem, they should refer you to a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment. There are no laboratory, blood or genetic tests that are used to diagnose borderline personality disorder.

Many people with borderline personality disorder don’t seek out treatment. People with personality disorders, in general, do not often seek out treatment until the disorder starts to significantly interfere or otherwise impact a person’s life. This most often happens when a person’s coping resources are stretched too thin to deal with stress or other life events.

A diagnosis for borderline personality disorder is made by a mental health professional comparing your symptoms and life history with those listed here. They will make a determination whether your symptoms meet the criteria necessary for a personality disorder diagnosis.

Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

Researchers today don’t know what causes borderline personality disorder. There are many theories, however, about the possible causes of borderline personality disorder. Most professionals subscribe to a biopsychosocial model of causation — that is, the causes of are likely due to biological and genetic factors, social factors (such as how a person interacts in their early development with their family and friends and other children), and psychological factors (the individual’s personality and temperament, shaped by their environment and learned coping skills to deal with stress). This suggests that no single factor is responsible — rather, it is the complex and likely intertwined nature of all three factors that are important. If a person has this personality disorder, research suggests that there is a slightly increased risk for this disorder to be “passed down” to their children.

Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder

Treatment of borderline personality disorder typically involves long-term psychotherapy with a therapist that has experience in treating this kind of personality disorder. Medications may also be prescribed to help with specific troubling and debilitating symptoms.

Source: http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/symptoms-of-borderline-personality-disorder/

Filed under Borderline Personality Disorder personality personality disorders psychology therapy psychological disorders counselling abnormal behaviour mental illness mental health online counselling college

1,979 notes

Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative disorders involve a breakdown in memory, awareness, identity and/or perception. The four main types are:

·         Dissociative amnesia: Here, the person can’t remember important personal information surrounding a traumatic experience. This creates gaps in their personal history.

·         Dissociative fugue: This is where the person impulsively wanders or disappears from their home - and can’t remember who they are, or anything about their past. Thus, they feel confused with no consistent identity. Usually, they move to a new location immediately after a stressful event. To others who do not know the individual, they appear to be functioning normally. The condition is usually diagnosed when family members find their lost relative

·         Dissociative identity disorder: Previously known as “multiple personality disorder”, this is where a person switches between two or more identities. Each has control of the person at different times. Also, each identity has its own name, history and personality. The person only remembers a selection of personal information - depending on which identity is currently controlling them

·         Depersonalization disorder: Key symptoms are a feeling of detachment or estrangement from the self. The person feels as if they are living in a dream, detached and looking down at their body, or watching themselves on a movie screen. Thus, they feel as if they’re “losing their mind”.

Dissociative disorders are thought to be a way of coping with trauma. They are most commonly seen in individuals who have experienced chronic childhood physic, sexual or emotional abuse. It may also be associated with growing up in a home which is frightening, chaotic or highly unpredictable. For example, Kluft (1987) reviewed the issues involved in multiple personality disorder and found that in 97% of the cases the person had experienced child abuse, and usually this was sexual abuse.

 

The following factors are believed to predispose a person to developing dissociative disorder:

·         The child is dissociation-prone (That is, they have high hypnotisability)

·         The child was molested or seriously abused

·         He or she was unable to escape the abuse

·         The child dissociated to psychically escape from the trauma

·         This mode of coping was used to deal with less traumatic events in the future

CBT is the primary treatment for dissociative disorders as it is important to teach the clients new ways to cope with stress. Hypnosis is another popular technique as it provides a way for the person to work through traumatic experiences. Some therapists use art therapy as way of dealing with the memories. Although no specific medications are prescribed, sometimes a doctor will suggest tranquilizers, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication.

Filed under dissociative disorders multiple personality disorder DID abnormal behaviour abnormal psycholgy psychology psychotherapy psychiatry medicine counselling mental illness life psychopathy

5 notes

Exploring Panic Disorder (Panic Attacks)

This a very frightening disorder where the person fears they are losing control, going mad, or may even die. Symptoms are usually unexpected and often seem inexplicable. Occasionally they are triggered by specific situations - and this is then called a cued panic attack. Over time the person who is battling this disorder may come to fear having a panic attacks!  Symptoms of panic disorder include:

·         Nausea and/ or upset stomach

·         Sweating or chills

·         Numbness or tingling in the face, hands or feet

·         Pounding or racing heart

·         Feeling as if they are choking

·         Shortness of breath, chest pains or heart palpitations

·         Feeling faint or dizzy

·         Trembling or shaking

·         Fear that they are dying

·         Fear of losing control

·         Fear of impending doom

·         Feeling detached from reality.

Currently, the cause remains unknown, although genetics are thought to play a role. For example, twin studies have shown that where one identical twin is diagnosed with the disorder, then there is a 40% chance that the other twin will develop it, too. However, many sufferers have no family history. It is diagnosed more often in women than men. The most effective form of treatment is a combination of medication and CBT. Prescribed medication is usually a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) such as Prozac or Paxil, an antidepressants such as Valium or, in severe cases, an antiseizure drug. In terms of counselling and psychotherapy, CBT helps the person to recognize, challenge and replace panic-causing thoughts. This, therefore, decreases their sense of helplessness. Relaxation exercises can help manage the stress, and reduce the symptoms, too.

Filed under panic disorder panic attacks medicine psychology psychiatry psychotherapy social work anxiety disorders mental health mental illness Abnormal Psychology abnormal behaviour online counselling college

2 notes

Exploring Panic Disorder

This a very frightening disorder where the person fears they are losing control, going mad or about to die. Symptoms are unexpected and seem inexplicable. Occasionally they are triggered by specific situations.  (This is called a cued panic attack.) Over time the person who is battling this disorder may come to fear having panic attacks!  

Symptoms of panic disorder include:

·         Nausea and/ or upset stomach

·         Sweating or chills

·         Numbness or tingling in the face, hands or feet

·         Pounding or racing heart

·         Feeling as if they are choking

·         Shortness of breath, chest pains or heart palpitations

·         Feeling faint or dizzy

·         Trembling or shaking

·         Fear that they are dying

·         Fear of losing control

·         Fear of impending doom

·         Feeling detached from reality.

The causes of the disorder are unknown. Genetics are thought to play a role. For example, studies indicate that where one identical twin is diagnosed with a panic disorder, then 40% of the other twins will develop the disorder, too. However, many sufferers have no family history. As with other anxiety disorders, panic disorders occur more frequently in women than men. However, it is rarely diagnosed in children.

In terms of treatment, the most effective approach appears to be a combination of medication and CBT. 

Prescribed medication is usually a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor such as Prozac or Paxil; an antidepressants such as Valium; or, in severe cases, an antiseizure drug. CBT helps the person to recognize, challenge and replace their panic-causing thoughts – which then decreases their sense of helplessness. Relaxation exercises can reduce the symptoms, too.

Filed under abnormal behaviour abnormal psycholgy anxiety disorders counselling medicine mental health mental illness online counselling college panic disorders psychiatry psychology psychotherapy social work health mind

4 notes

Exploring Phobias

A phobia is a persistent and irrational fear that causes a person to avoid something specific - despite the awareness that it is not dangerous. It is extremely common, especially amongst women.

Some common phobias include the following:

·         Acrophobia – a fear of heights

·         Agoraphobia – a fear of places where escape is impossible/ help is unavailable

·         Arachnophobia - a fear of spiders

·         Aviatophobia - a fear of flying

·         Claustrophobia - a fear of having no escape and being closed in

·         Cynophobia - a fear of dogs.

Some less common phobias include the following:

·         Barophobia a fear of gravity

·         Blennophobia – a fear of slime

·         Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia - a fear of long words

·         Omphalophobia - a fear of bellybuttons.

Phobias result in extreme distress, and they impair the individual’s ability to function at work, or in a social context. Psychological symptoms can include: feelings of fear, panic, dread, or terror that are out of proportion to the real danger posed. Physical and mental symptoms can include shaking, trembling, dizziness, sweating; difficulties with thinking, concentrating and remembering; feelings of nausea, thinking you are going to vomit; racing heart, palpitations, sweating, breathing difficulties and fainting

The DSM-IV distinguishes between two types of phobia: specific and social phobias. The former are described as being “unwarranted fears caused by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation”. They are categorised according to the source of the fear:

·         Blood, injuries, and injections

·         Situations (e.g., planes, elevators, enclosed spaces)

·         Animals

·         The natural environment (e.g., heights, water).

Social phobias are described as being “persistent, irrational fears linked to the presence of other people”. Thus, those with this disorder will try to avoid particular situations in which they might be evaluated ( For example, public speaking or performances, eating in a group or using public toilets.)

In some situations, mild phobias are viewed as being understandable and relatively normal. For instance, there are many children who’re afraid of the dark, of scary monsters or of people like clowns. Although this is normal, and usually just “a stage”, if they persist over time or are incapacitating, then the person can develop a true phobia. Phobias also develop in response to a trauma, such as being bitten by a dog as a child. However, in other situations, there is no apparent trigger so the fear seems completely irrational.

In terms of treatment, the most popular approach is taking medication (anti-depressant or anti-anxiety agents), especially when combined with CBT. In addition to this, behavioural therapy (systematic desensitisation) is also effective when treating phobias. Here, the person is gradually exposed to the feared object or situation while also being trained in how to manage the resultant anxiety.

Filed under abnormal behaviour abnormal psycholgy anxiety disorders counselling mental health mental illness online counselling college phobias psychiatry psychology psychotherapy social work medicine health mind

17 notes

Diagnosing Abnormal Behaviour

The following are considered by professionals when categorising normal and abnormal behaviour:

·         Statistical infrequency

·         Violation of norms

·         Personal distress

·         Disability or dysfunction, and

·         Unexpectedness

Statistical Infrequency

Abnormal behaviour is noticeable because it occurs infrequently. A case in point is schizophrenia which affects one per cent of the general population. However, infrequency alone does not constitute a reason for a diagnosis. For example, very few people are top athletes but we do not think of them as being abnormal.

Violation of norms

Abnormal behaviours contravene social norms (Although we need to consider the person’s culture, too.)

For example, when a person says a voice inside their head is telling them to kill themselves or other people, this is clearly unusual and a cause for concern. However, if a young person sleeps on the streets for a week to try and understand what it is like to be homeless - this is viewed as being different, but not as being abnormal.

Personal distress

People who experience intense distress will usually need some help to function normally. For example, someone who is suffering from extreme anxiety may benefit from having prescription medication.

 However, experiencing distress in the midst of a trauma is something we expect – so this is not “abnormal”.

Disability or dysfunction

This is where a person cannot function in a way that allows them to continue with their everyday life, or fulfil their normal responsibilities. For example, a person who is suffering from agoraphobia may not be able to work, or take their kids to school. However, if you’re short and you want to make the basketball team, then your height’s a disadvantge, not a disability.

Unexpectedness

There are certain events that cause a person to react in extreme, unusual or disturbing ways. For example, screaming and crying uncontrollably when you hear that your brother has been killed in a crash. However, the reacting in this way when you miss the bus to work would be viewed as extreme, and irrational. That is, we need to consider what is happening at the time when assessing what is normal and abnormal behaviour.       

Filed under counselling psychotherapy psychology psychiatry diagnosis abnormal behaviour abnormal psycholgy mental health mentoring mental disorders online counselling college

14 notes

The Low-Down on Schizophrenia

Symptoms

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder characterized by major disturbances in thought, emotion, and behaviour. It usually manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions and disorganized speech. Hallucinations can be tactile, auditory, visual, olfactory or gustatory (taste). Often they include audible thoughts, voices arguing, and voices telling the patient what to do. Delusions are frequently bizarre or persecutory. Disorganised thinking and speech may be revealed through simply losing their train of thought, through speaking in disconnected sentences, or through something called word salad (completely unconnected, nonsensical speech). Onset of symptoms is usually late adolescence or early adulthood.

Behavioural symptoms of schizophrenia include withdrawal, social isolation, low motivation, unkempt appearance, poor personal hygiene and bizarre behaviours (such as hoarding food or garbage). Socially and emotionally, there is a lack of responsiveness to other people and their needs. Typically, the sufferer has blunted emotions, cannot experience pleasure, and has no desire for relationships with others. They lack social awareness – and their unusual behaviours make others feel uncomfortable around the individual.

Causes

It is believed that genes, biochemistry and environmental factors interact together to trigger the symptoms of schizophrenia.

In terms of genes, hereditary factors play a strong role in predisposing a person to schizophrenia. There also appears to be significant overlap in the genetics associated with schizophrenia and those associated with bipolar disorder.

In terms of biochemistry, fMRI and PET scans show differences in the frontal lobes, hippocampus and temporal lobes of people suffering from schizophrenia. There also appears to be a reduction in brain volume in areas of the frontal cortex and temporal lobes. Furthermore, new evidence suggests that a viral infection occurring during the mid trimester of fetal development may be responsible for this brain damage.

In terms of environmental factors, environmental stressors that may act as triggers include the person’s home and family life (factors such as poverty, social isolation, racial discrimination, being immigrants); growing up in an urban environment; drug use and prenatal stressors. Also, it appears there may be a link between childhood trauma (such as abuse) and being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Treatment

Previous treatments of schizophrenia included prefrontal lobotomy and ECT. However, today treatment takes the form of antipsychotic medications, accompanied by psychological and social support. Unfortunately, many of the drugs have unpleasant side effects, and some of these can be serious (such as impaired immune system functioning). Psychotherapy and counselling have little effect (although it’s generally useful for the family).

Well-Known Sufferers

Famous people with schizophrenia include: John Nash (mathematician/ Nobel prize winner), Peter Green (guitarist for Fleetwood Mac), Syd Barrett (from Pink Floyd), Mary Todd Lincoln (wife of Abraham Lincoln) and Lionel Alridge (Super Bowl winner).

Filed under schizophrenia mental illness abnormal psycholgy abnormal behaviour psychology psychiatry counselling psychological disorders DSM online counselling college psychotic therapy mental health hallucinations paranoid hearing voices