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What Are the Different Types of Psychological Disorders?

By Lumara Lee
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Psychological disorders are divided into many different categories. These categories include mood, anxiety, and eating disorders. Some psychological disorders are caused by an imbalance of chemical neurotransmitters in the brain, and some are the result of environmental factors such as trauma. Genetic factors often contribute to the manifestation of psychological disorders, since parents with a mental illness may pass it on to their offspring.

Clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and bipolar disorder are common mood disorders. Everyone suffers from an occasional bout of depression, but a person experiencing clinical depression stays depressed for more than two weeks and exhibits other symptoms, such as sleeping too much and the inability to feel pleasure. SAD is caused by the decreased hours of natural sunlight when the days grow shorter in the fall and winter, and is characterized by depression. The mood of a person whose SAD isn’t accompanied by any other psychological disorders will typically improve when the hours of natural daylight increase.

A person with bipolar disorder, on the other hand, exhibits extreme mood swings. One moment, he may be severely depressed, and then the next, he may switch to a state of mania. During a manic state, the person may be filled with energy and unable to sleep. Thoughts may be racing through his head, and he may become irrational. With a combination of psychological counseling and medication, many people with a mood disorder are able to manage their symptoms and live a productive life.

Some common anxiety disorders are obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Once known as battle fatigue and shell shock, PTSD sometimes develops after a life-threatening trauma. The person with PTSD may suffer feelings of extreme fear or guilt, and may have nightmares or keep reliving the traumatic events in his mind. In order for PTSD to be diagnosed, the person must display the symptoms for more than a month and be unable to function normally. Psychological therapy is generally recommended for someone experiencing PTSD and is sometimes combined with drug treatment.

OCD is characterized by repeated, unwanted thoughts and behaviors that make it difficult to function normally. People with OCD often establish rituals or routines. For example, a person obsessed about germs might repeatedly wash his hands, while one obsessed about safety might keep checking to see if all doors and windows are locked. OCD causes a great amount of anxiety, and like other psychological disorders, is most often treated with medication and psychological therapy.

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Discussion Comments

By Rotergirl — On Jun 25, 2014

I guess what gets me is that people who have known, documented psychological disorders, especially ones that can cause violent behavior, cannot be medicated unless they've shown a tendency to harm self or others. Most of them don't harm anyone if they're properly medicated, but when they go off their meds, the symptoms start showing up again.

Mental health care in the USA is an utter disaster. So many people don't take it seriously, so states cut funding and close long term care hospitals, where many of these people need to be so they can get the kind of care they need. Residential treatment or group homes aren't appropriate for every person. Sometimes they need long term care and all too often, it isn't available.

By Pippinwhite — On Jun 24, 2014

The DSM-IV is the definitive resource on various psychological disorders. It classifies them as disorders that affect the personality, mood, sexual responses, sleep, etc. My sister is a mental health therapist, so I've heard a lot about this.

For instance, schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder, while bipolar is a personality disorder and clinical depression is a mood disorder. Insomnia, is, obviously a sleep disorder.

Some of these disorders have a functional or physiological cause. That is, something is wrong within the brain's actual structure, or function. It might be missing a piece of a crucial part (like the frontal lobe), or may not be producing a particular chemical in the correct proportions. Some disorders don't necessarily have a physical cause, or one has not been discovered yet. Treatment is by managing symptoms.

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