Comparison of 4 Major Psychological Disorders

Topics: Mental disorder, Abnormal psychology, Psychology Pages: 11 (3058 words) Published: March 4, 2007

The Oxford dictionary defines psychology as "Science of the nature, function and phenomena of human soul or mind: mental characteristics." (1980). The normal mental characteristics of the human mind are very difficult to categorize; so when looking at the disorders of the mind a number of factors have been identified that "attempt to define" (Meteyard, 2007, p. 49) what is abnormal or psychopathological. For this assignment I will be looking at four disorders that come under different major categories defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-1V). They are: •Mood Disorder (or Affective Disorder) – Major Depression •Anxiety Disorder – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

•Eating Disorder – Bulimia Nervosa
•Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – Overlaps into Dissociative Disorders. (Barker, 2006, p.10) MAJOR DEPRESSION:
"Depressive disorders are among the most common psychological diagnoses, involving not just sadness but also negative views of the self and the future and physical and behavioural changes that impede enjoyment and activity". (Kendall, 1998, p. 121). The issues leading to depression can include medical problems e.g. low thyroid function, injuries, life threatening diseases, hormonal imbalances, chronic pain, etc. as well as stresses of life including family conflict, work and personality issues, death of close friends, relatives and even pets. Smoking, drugs and alcohol can all contribute to a depressive illness. (Beyond Blue, 2006) Or be caused be internal factors.

Symptoms of Depression: (can be emotional, behavioural, and physical) as cited in Management of Mental Disorders (2000); 1.Markedly depressed mood
2.Loss of interest or enjoyment
3.Reduced self-esteem and self-confidence
4.Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
5.Bleak and pessimistic views of the future
6.Ideas or acts of self-harm or suicide
7.Disturbed sleep
8.Disturbed appetite
9.Decreased libido
10.Reduced energy leading to fatigue and diminished activity
11. Reduced concentration and attention (p. 163)

Once depression has been diagnosed and any biological / medical abnormality has been treated or resolved, ("there is significant evidence as to the validity of a biological explanation for depression") (Meteyard, 2007, p.56) then other avenues of intervention can be looked at. Depression often requires medication with anti-depressant medication, as well as some form of psychotherapy. Exercise can also help overcome some aspects of depression.

Cognitive Therapy includes techniques that "are designed to identify, reality-test, and correct distorted conceptualizations and the dysfunctional beliefs (schemas) underlying [those with depression]. The cognitive therapist actively collaborates with the patient in exploring his psychological experiences, setting up schedules of activities, and making homework assignment." (Beck, Rush, Shaw, Emery, 1979, p.4). Interpersonal Therapy focuses on "interpersonal rather than cognitive aspects of depression;" it uses the approach that depression is a medical illness happening in a social context. Thus this mode of therapy places emphasis on the relational and communication aspects of individual experience. (Ravitz, 2003, p.15) This therapy includes Non-directive person centred therapy.

Other areas of counselling include the Psychoanalytic (Psychodynamic) Therapy that focuses on past experiences, and childhood recollections to explain the present problems. Behavioural Therapy focuses on "the way people have been conditioned to act or respond to certain situations or stimuli" (Meteyard, 2007, p.57) and thus help them take initiative to change the way they respond to situations. The depressive person's responses to various situations are because they have ‘faulty information processing': Behavioural Therapy therefore would not address the ‘incorrect inferences'...

References: American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (4th ed.). Text Revision. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Barker, G. A. (2006) The effects of Trauma on Attachment. Retrieved 4 January, 2007, from
Beck, A., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F. and Emery. G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New
York: Guilford
Bulimia Nervosa. Eating Disorders Foundation. (2006) Retrieved 2 January, 2007, from
Clinton, T
Herman, J. L. (1992) Trauma and recovery: From domestic abuse to political terror. Oakland, CA: New Harbringer
Kalat, J.W
Kendall, P. & Hammen, C. (1998) Abnormal psychology: Understanding human problems. (2nd ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Management of Mental Disorders
Maxfield, L. (2000) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: A review of the efficacy of EMDR in the treatment of PTSD. Retrieved from
Meteyard, J
Osborn, I. (1998). Tormenting thoughts and secret rituals. New York: Pantheon.
Ravitz, P
Wever, C. (2006) Child Psychiatry for the Non Child Psychiatrist. Workbook. Mermaid Waters, Queensland: Unpublished Workbook.
What causes depression? (2006) Retrieved 8 January, 2007 from

Yancy, P. (1990) Where is God when it hurts? Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing
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