Definition: Defining the Meaning of Psychological Disorder
A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a mental or behavioral pattern or anomaly that causes either suffering or an impaired ability to function in ordinary life (disability), and which is not a developmental or social norm. The definition and classification of mental disorders are key issues for researchers as well as service providers and those who may be diagnosed. For a mental state to classify as a disorder, it generally needs to cause dysfunction.
There are many psychological disorders that people may experience in life, ranging from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to common phobias. Diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders is an objective procedure that involves prior research as well as experience on the part of the health care provider.
Knowledge of psychological disorders has been compiled into a large and comprehensive manual called the, 'DSM-IV,' which is used by health care providers today.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) is published by the American Psychiatric Association.
The book contains all of the known mental health and psychological disorders affecting both adults and children.
The DSM-IV lists the names and symptoms of psychological disorders, as well as potential causes, treatments, statistics and research that is being pursued related to these disorders.
The DSM-IV is sometimes referred to as the, 'Psychiatrists Bible,' because it enhances the understanding of persons with these disorders, their treatment options, and even third party insurance payers.
Psychological disorders in the DSM-IV are both classified and explained.
Within the DSM-IV there are five, 'Axes,' that cover psychological disorders.
- Axis 1: Presents Clinical Syndromes, also known as the diagnosis of the psychological disorder.
- Axis 2: Presents Developmental Disorders and Personality Disorders. Developmental disorders typically occur in childhood, and can affect physical, intellectual, and emotional development (e.g., autism, Down's syndrome). Personality disorders have long lasting symptoms that affect one's interaction in the world.
- Axis 3: Presents Physical Conditions, such as brain injuries or physical impairments. Some psychological disorders spring from physical aspects, others have unknown causes.
- Axis 4: Presents Severity of Psychosocial Stressors, including events in the patient's life; deaths, divorces, traumas, celebrations, new beginnings, etc. Lifestyle affects most psychological disorders.
- Axis 5: Presents Highest Level of Functioning - describes how well the person functions at present and within the last year, with the psychological disorder.
The DSM-IV is not necessarily used or involved in the diagnostic process or treatment of every psychological disorder.
Reference to and use of the DSM-IV depends on the Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or Counselor.
Whether or not the DSM-IV was used in the diagnostic process, it is important to get objective support regarding any psychological condition or disorder.
Counseling and Psychological Disorders
There has been an amount of social stigma associated with counseling and psychological disorders, or psychological disorders in general, causing unnecessary burden an people with disabilities, their family members and friends.
The counseling process can be trying enough without dealing with any stigmas associated with it. Insurance companies may not cover counseling easily as well.
Overcoming these hurdles related to seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist or a counselor can be extremely valuable to a person as a whole; not just their emotions and mind.
A person's physical health is intrinsically connected to their mind and soul; dealing with your mental well-being inevitably benefits your overall health.
As with any physical disease, a psychological disorder can affect any person at any time in their life; it does not matter how happy, wealthy, or seemingly well-adjusted they may be.
Types of Psychological Disorders
- Anxiety Disorders
- Acute Stress Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Agoraphobia without History of Panic Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Specific Phobia (formerly Simple Phobia)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Childhood Disorders
- Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Asperger's Disorder
- Autistic Disorder
- Conduct Disorder
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Tourette's Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Mood Disorders
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)
- Cyclothymic Disorder
- Dysthymic Disorder
- Cognitive Disorders (Delirium, Dementia, Amnestic Disorders)
- Multi-Infarct Dementia
- Dementia Associated With Alcoholism
- Dementia of the Alzheimer Type
- Personality Disorders
- Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Schizoid Personality Disorder
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Dependent Personality Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
- Schizophrenia & Other Psychotic Disorders
- Delusional Disorder
- Brief Psychotic Disorder
- Schizophreniform Disorder
- Schizoaffective Disorder
- Shared Psychotic Disorder
- Substance-Related Disorders
- Alcohol Dependence
- Amphetamine Dependence
- Cannabis Dependence
- Cocaine Dependence
- Hallucinogen Dependence
- Inhalant Dependence
- Nicotine Dependence
- Opioid Dependence
- Phencyclidine Dependence
- Sedative Dependence
Quick Facts: Psychological Disorder & Disability
Some disorders may be very limited in their functional effects, while others may involve substantial disability and support needs. The degree of ability or disability may vary over time and across different life domains. Furthermore, continued disability has been linked to institutionalization, discrimination and social exclusion as well as to the inherent effects of disorders. Alternatively, functioning may be affected by the stress of having to hide a condition in work or school etc., by adverse effects of medications or other substances, or by mismatches between illness-related variations and demands for regularity.
Statistics: U.S. Mental Disorder Statistics
- An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older or about one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.
- Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. In particular, depressive illnesses tend to co-occur with substance abuse and anxiety disorders.
- Approximately about 18% of people ages 18- 54 in a given year, have an anxiety disorder in a given year. Anxiety disorders include: panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and phobias (social phobia, agoraphobia, and specific phobia).
- Most people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder, most commonly a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder.