“The biological approach looks for its roots of mental disorders in the brain’s circuitry.” (Kowalski, R., & Westen, D.) When using the biological approach the mental health professional is looking for problem with how a person brain is functioning. It is their belief that it is more of a medical cause for a person’s problems. The brain is studied to see if it is functioning proper and if it is not what the possible causes may be. It is known that different portions of the brain are responsible for different actions and reactions from the mind and body. If something in the brain is not functioning properly then there is a good chance that could be the cause for the person’s mental issues.
Neural circuits are responsible for the brains functions and if one or more are not working properly a mental disorder could arise. There have been studies done with the use of neural imaging to prove that certain parts of the brain react differently to different types of stimulus. Even though it can be shown on images how the brain works not everything can be seen on a screen. “A biological marker is a measurable indicator of a disease which may or may not be causal.” (Buchsbaum, M. S., & Haier, R. J.) These biological markers are what researchers look for when examining the brain. The biological researcher may look for one of four types of markers etiological indicators, challenge markers, disease markers and linkage markers. A person could have one or more of these markers. Many of these markers are inherited from a person’s parents which is why medical professional need to have a good detailed medical history from the patient.
This is also why family history is important when attempting to diagnose an illness. Whether it be a physical or mental illness a person’s genes have a great deal to do with whom they are and how they act. The biological approach also looks to family history as it is now believed that many mental disorders have some genetic influences as well. It has been well documented that many illnesses can have genetic roots. For example bipolar disorder is strongly believed to have genetic roots. Many times there is a family history of the disorder, rarely is a person the first in their family with it.
When a biological researcher is looking into the case of a person’s problems the first thing they may look at is if certain portions of the brain are functioning properly. And they may check certain areas of the brain to see if the problem lies there. Because some disorders affect different portions of the brain. They may then look at neurotransmitters to see if any are dysfunctional and which ones they are because they are responsible for different functions. If a biological researcher can determine where the problem is located in the brain it may make treatment easier for the patient. It can also go a long way in easing a patients mind when they know there is a reason for their feelings and actions. And that it is not just that they are “crazy.”
The biological approach is used to diagnose many different disorders one of which is bipolar disorder. Biology has been determined to be a large factor when it comes to bipolar disorder. A person with a family history of the disorder is at much higher risk for developing it than a person without. “Bipolar disorder a psychological disorder marked by extreme mood swings; also called manic depression.” (Kowalski, R., & Westen, D.) A person that suffers from bipolar disorder suffers from depression but also suffers from manic episodes which are when a person has an almost “high on life” kind of feeling. When a person is in a manic phase they may feel invincible and need little sleep but will also have rambling thoughts they are unable to control.
The flip side to bipolar disorder is the depression. Suffers can have major depressive episodes where they are unable to get out of bed, even to eat. They can have suicidal feeling as well. Some of the other symptoms may be hearing voices or hallucinations. When a person is suffering from depression they may have helpless or worthless feelings as well. This is why treatment is so important. A biological treatment for bipolar disorder would be prescription medications. This and talk therapy are the most widely used to treat bipolar disorder and the most successful. Person with bipolar disorder are able to control most of their symptoms with medication but staying on the medication is key.
A person with bipolar disorder may really like the feeling of the manic phase so once they have “cured” the depression with the medicine they may quit taking it to regain the manic feelings. It is hard to explain to someone that does not suffer any type of mental illness to understand how a person can hurt themselves by not taking pills. I know this from my own battles with this disorder. It is my personal belief that biology has a great deal to do with mental illness. I inherited mine from my mother and I watch her battle this same issue for thirty years. It is my personal belief that biology has a great deal to do with mental illness. I inherited mine from my mother and her from hers. References
Buchsbaum, M. S., & Haier, R. J. (1983). Psychopathology: Biological approaches. Annual Review Of Psychology, 34401-430. doi:10.1146/annurev.ps.34.020183.002153 Corner, R.J. (2005) Fundamentals of abnormal psychology (4th Ed.). New York, NY:Worth Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.