Education: Psychological Disorders
Psychological disorders are also known as psychiatric disorders or psychiatric conditions. They refer to any abnormal changes in the mind that cause impairment in everyday functioning. There are hundreds of psychological disorders each with their own symptoms and diagnostic criteria that allow mental health professionals to accurately diagnose and treat individuals.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook used by healthcare professionals around the world to guide the diagnosis of psychological disorders. The current manual, DSM 5, lists hundreds of disorders and serves as a common language among practitioners to establish consistent and reliable diagnoses. These consistent diagnoses also serve to provide information for research pursuits and serves the mental health professional in developing plans for treatment. The DSM is revised periodically as new research about disorders becomes available.
The disorders are classified according to the nature of the disorder. For example, there are sections on eating disorders, mood disorders such as depression, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, sexual disorders, and anxiety disorders. Each of these have specific criteria that one must meet in order to be diagnosed with that disorder.
The causes of these disorders are not entirely known but environmental and genetic factors can play a role in the development of any of the disorders listed. These factors can include childhood trauma, stress, illness, or heredity. All psychological disorders have symptoms dependent on the type of disorder and most symptoms must be present for a period of time (i.e., two weeks) for a diagnosis to be given.
Symptoms are typically recurring and impair a person’s ability to function properly in all areas such as work, home, or school. It is important that the mental health professional obtain as much information as possible because some symptoms can overlap between disorders. It is also important for the mental health professional to not diagnose too quickly. Many disorders such as depression can manifest in different ways and according to an individual’s explanation of the symptoms.
Diagnosing of a disorder includes five axes which covers unique aspects of a disorder and the mental health professional will these axes as a guide to diagnose and properly treat the disorder.
It is important to remember that not everyone who exhibits symptoms, has a psychological disorder. There is much that goes into diagnosing a psychological disorder; therefore, should be left to the mental health professional.
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