Over the last century, the way that psychologists treat abnormal psychology disorders has changed drastically. People are no longer locked up in insane asylums for disabilities and mental health issues. Instead, new and more humane treatment options are available for patients with abnormal psychology disorders. The term abnormal psychology refers to a broad range of disorders that produce abnormal behaviors, from obsessive-compulsive disorders to schizophrenia and personality disorders. Treatment for each disorder will be varied from patient to patient. However, there are treatment options for everyone.
What Are Abnormal Psychology Disorders?
Abnormal Psychology is the study of mental disorders. Mental disorders are defined as psychological disorders that cause a person to act outside of the norm. Psychologists use the DSM, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to diagnose abnormal psychology disorders. There are 12 categories of mental disorders recognized by the DSM and several specific disorders listed under each.
Neurodevelopmental disorders are usually diagnosed during early childhood and impair how a brain develops or works with the neurological systems in the body. Some examples of Neurodevelopmental disorders are:
Neurodevelopmental Abnormal psychology disorders are usually treated with therapy services such as speech, occupational, developmental, socio-emotional therapies, and sometimes medication. Some neurodevelopmental disorders have been linked to genetic abnormalities. The National Center for Biotechnology Information, NCBI, has reported that some abnormalities can be reversed through genetic manipulation to treat these disorders in adulthood.
Bipolar And Mood Disorders
Bipolar and mood disorders affect a person’s mood and general activity, and energy levels. Bipolar specifically relates to an abnormal shift between feelings of mania and depression-highs and lows. These moods are usually pronounced, and when experiencing these moods, people can become easily agitated, anxious, and disruptive.
People who experience mania feel very excited or happy, sometimes even showing hyperactivity. People experiencing mania are often described as being arrogant or overly confident. Mania also causes people to engage in impulsive behaviors that can often harm themselves or others. Patients with mania may also gamble and spend exuberant amounts of money while shopping, not thinking about the long-term consequences.
Depressive episodes are marked by periods of extreme sadness, irritability, and fatigue. People may feel experience feelings of guilt, isolation, and abandonment that are not based on reality. People with bipolar when in a depressive state, will not participate in activities, may not leave the bed or go to work, will not uphold their responsibilities, and be easy to anger.
Other mood disorders include:
Mood disorders can be treated with therapy and medication. Because a chemical imbalance generally causes mood disorders in the brain, medications can help the brain produce and regulate the correct hormones and chemicals in the brain.
People with anxiety disorder often experience constant and persistent worry or fear over real or perceived threats. This fear creates an emotional response that can make it hard for people with anxiety to complete everyday tasks in difficult situations may hinder their social health and can cause disruptions to the lives of people around them. There are several types of anxiety disorders:
Treating anxiety disorders is most often done through cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, Dialectical behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy.
Four major classes of medications are used to treat anxiety disorders: SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor), a tricyclic antidepressant, and benzodiazepine. There are also alternative treatments for anxiety, including EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and deep brain stimulation.
Trauma and stress can induce disorders similar to anxiety disorders. Trauma disorders are categorized separately now, however, because the patient must have experienced a trauma or significant stressor event to be diagnosed with trauma disorders, whereas anxiety disorders need no event.
Trauma-related disorders are treated with psycho and family therapy and medications such as antidepressants.
Dissociative Disorders are severe abnormal psychology disorders because they deal with an interruption in a person’s consciousness. These interruptions can cause issues with identity, memory, and safety.
Treatments for dissociative disorders revolve around helping the patient recall and process the repressed memories causing the dissociation from reality so that therapy can treat the past trauma. There are no medications that are specifically slated for dissociative disorders. However, there are some medications to help relieve the symptoms produced by these disorders.
Somatic Symptom Disorder
Somatic Symptom Disorder occurs when people have prominent physical symptoms with no biological medicine determined cause. These symptoms cause the patient to obsess over the symptoms, resulting in emotional distress and disruptions to their daily life. Other related illnesses include:
The treatment plan for somatic symptom disorders focuses on improving daily functioning rather than treating the disorder. Reducing stress, counseling, and cognitive behavioral therapy are the best treatment options for people dealing with these disorders.
Feeding And Eating Disorders
Abnormal psychology disorders that involve food and eating fall into this category. The most commonly known include anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. However, a few other disorders involve eating or food that are categorized here as well.
Because eating disorders can cause death and severe illness, many people with severe bulimia and anorexia may require inpatient hospital treatment. Intensive treatment is provided for those who have stopped eating completely, are depressed or mentally unstable, and have developed other medical conditions such as diabetes due to the eating disorder. Residential treatment requires no intensive medical intervention; however, the patient may be impaired or unable to respond to outpatient treatment options.
For patients who do not require intensive intervention or residential services, partial hospitalization is available when they are medically stable. Still, the assessment is needed to determine the risk of medical injury. Outpatient therapy is also available, and medical marijuana is now often prescribed for those suffering from eating disorders to stimulate the appetite.
When people have trouble sleeping, they may have a sleep disorder. To have a disorder, the sleeping troubles must disrupt your daytime functioning and lead to distress. One night of insomnia does not qualify someone for a sleep disorder. The sleep-related issues must be persistent and ongoing.
There are many different treatment options for sleep disorders. Because sleep disorders can have many causes, it is important to have a sleep study to determine where the issues lie. After a sleep study and diagnosis, treatment options may include sleeping pills, natural supplements like melatonin, medication for other health issues, breathing devices, and dental guards for sleep teeth grinding. Iron has also been shown to help reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, especially in children.
Along with medical treatment, people with sleep disorders need to commit to lifestyle adjustments and sleeping schedules.
Some abnormal psychology disorders can greatly impact a person’s behavior in ways that may make that person dangerous. Behavior disorders are sometimes called impulse control disorders and cause a person to not be in conscious control of their feelings, emotions, and impulses. They often cannot regulate their behavior, and the behaviors can often lead to violence, aggression, and destruction.
Behavior disorders have no known cure and, many times, no known cause. Cognitive Behavior therapy is usually prescribed for these disorders and mood stabilizers and other medications to help manage the symptoms. For patients with extreme behavior disorders that cause danger or threat of danger to themselves or others, inpatient and residential treatment facilities are available. There are also luxury facilities for patients with the means to procure treatment in a nontraditional environment.
Substance Abuse And Addiction
The DSM categorizes addiction as a mental health issue that needs and can be treated. There are specific disorders for the type of addiction, from alcohol abuse to stimulants, tobacco, and even gambling, among many others.
Substance abuse and addiction are treated with psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. Therapy focuses on treating the underlying mental and emotional disorders that lead to addiction and substance abuse. Medical detox is also available for those who wish to get and stay clean.
Neurocognitive disorders are deficits in neurological functioning that are acquired, not natural. These disorders are characterized by a decline in cognitive ability, memory, attention, language, perception, and learning ability. These conditions can be caused by other biological, medical conditions such as Parkinson’s or vascular disease.
Delirium is a very serious neurocognitive disorder that can cause confusion and safety risks for the patient. Delirium happens over a short period and can also cause disturbances in awareness, reality, and attention.
Treating neurocognitive disorders begins with seeing a neuropsychologist, and for seniors, a geriatric psychologist. Antidepressant medications are usually prescribed as well as medications that can help memory function. Psychotherapy and psychosocial therapy can both be used for managing these disorders, which are often degenerative.
Personality disorders are the most commonly thought of mental disorders when referring to abnormal psychology. Personality disorders can cause major life disruptions for both the patient and those around them. These abnormal psychology disorders can make relationships difficult to maintain.
Treatment for personality disorders will vary depending on the diagnosis. Most treatments involve a team approach to ensure that social, physical, and mental needs are treated. Treatment for personality disorders must be ongoing to be effective and may include social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurses. For severe cases, residential and inpatient programs are offered.
Finding Help For Abnormal Psychology Disorders
If you or a loved one are suffering from an abnormal psychology disorder or symptoms, you should seek medical help. If you have thoughts of harming yourself or others, you should call 911. If you are ready to start your therapy journey and begin talking to someone today, CLICK HERE to get connected with an online therapist!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are abnormal psychology disorders?
The psychological disorders list is quite lengthy and is constantly being tweaked to reflect the latest research into abnormal psychology. Abnormal mental health, i.e., a psychological disorder, is when the patient exhibits the behavior, thought patterns, and emotional conditions outside the norm and disrupts their life. The field of abnormal psychology focuses on researching and treating these conditions within the general psychiatry and clinical psychology framework.
What are the 5 most common mental disorders?
Psychological disorders come in five primary types: anxiety disorders, mood disorders (which can be subdivided into depression and bipolar), personality disorders, trauma disorders, and eating disorders. Each type comprises several distinctive psychiatric disorders as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association APA.
However, modern cognitive psychology allows for a flexible approach to abnormal psychology. Abnormal conditions are treated as a health problem, not a character flaw or a singular condition. Rather, abnormal psychology focuses on creating a supportive clinical psychology environment, treating each patient individually. Psychology students holistically learn about psychology.
What are the top 10 mental illnesses?
For American psychiatry patients, the most common psychological disorders are Substance Abuse Disorder (8.3%), Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (8.1%), Social Anxiety Disorder (6.8%), Major Depressive Disorder (6.7%), and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (3.1%). A close runner-up is a bipolar disorder (2.7%). Despite media claims to the contrary, trauma disorders, personality disorders, and autism spectrum disorder are much rarer. Well-known conditions such as PTSD, borderline personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are slightly more common but still have lifetime prevalence rates of only 1-1.5 percent.
These conditions may be comorbid (occurring together in the same patient), but it is also important to note that many conditions have similar symptoms. Many patients, especially adolescents and women, are misdiagnosed with the wrong psychological disorder, preventing effective treatment. For example, many people with bipolar disorder are initially misdiagnosed with related psychological disorders, e.g., major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, or borderline personality disorder.
The only reliable way to diagnose someone is to consult with an expert in abnormal psychology. Abnormal symptoms need to be weighed against diagnostic standards set forth by the American Psychiatric Association APA. Abnormal psychology focuses on helping a counseling psychiatrist create treatment plans for people experiencing a potential psychological disorder. When psychology students learn about psychology, they see how various symptoms fit together.
What is the rarest mental disorder?
Many psychological disorders thought to be relatively common, such as anorexia, antisocial personality disorder, and schizophrenia, actually have low lifetime occurrence rates. But the rarest disorder (not including peculiar conditions that may be a symptom of a more common condition) is likely anything from the list of psychological disorders encompassing dissociation. These disorders include dissociative amnesia, dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder), and dissociative PTSD. Due to these psychological disorders, it has been challenging to get accurate numbers outside of an inpatient population. Still, some estimates place the prevalence of DID as low as 0.4 percent. Dissociative amnesia, in which the patient forgets who they are, and dissociative PTSD are also very rare.
How do you identify abnormal behavior?
Abnormal behavior in a psychiatric context is anything that disrupts the patient’s life and/or the lives of those around them. The American Psychiatric Association created the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to help a psychiatrist or counseling psychologist objectively assess a patient’s symptoms and compare it to the average population. For example, everyone experiences anxiety; it’s a normal part of life. But people with anxiety disorders experience anxiety that is unfounded, persistent, and severe to the point that it keeps them from living a healthy life. Abnormal psychology focuses on identifying these problems, diagnosing psychological disorders, and creating a treatment plan.
What is an abnormal personality?
An abnormal personality or psychological disorder is any mental illness in which a person has thought patterns, behaviors, and moods that disrupt their socializing, empathy, and relationships. It’s important not to confuse an abnormal personality with one affected by trauma or depression.
Many people have different forms of social interaction due to their upbringing and culture, but not necessarily a personality disorder. Development psychology explores how those attitudes emerge. Meanwhile, abnormal psychology focuses on separating cultural influences from disorders. To diagnose abnormal psychological disorders, mental health professionals will look at the overall ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and activities of a person to see how they relate to the world.
What is abnormal thinking?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, abnormal thought patterns include any thinking or cognitive activity that does not match one’s reality, social environment, or goals. For example, someone with an anxiety disorder may catastrophize a situation or fly into a panic based on a faulty assumption. A patient with a personality disorder may regard someone else as inherently flawed and treat them without empathy. Abnormal thinking can take many forms as psychiatric disorders. When this type of thinking becomes pervasive and consistent enough to disrupt one’s life (e.g., when someone is so fearful of rejection that they avoid social interaction), it becomes a sign of a mental illness. Abnormal psychology focuses on identifying these psychological disorders and mapping out treatment options.