Ch 11: Psychological Disorders and Health

About This Chapter

Take a look at how psychological disorders are diagnosed; learn about the symptoms and causes of all the major disorders including depression, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder. Consider the unique challenges of diagnosing mental disorders compared to physical disorders.

Introductory Psychology: Psychological Disorders and Health

Though many psychologists study the workings of the healthy mind, there are some who devote themselves to studying and treating patients suffering from disordered patterns of thinking and feeling. These psychologists are known as clinical psychologists. Along with psychiatrists, social workers and therapists, psychologists discover and implement the best ways to diagnose and treat psychological disorders.

We begin by defining disorders and the evolution of the diagnostic process. These are important frames for understanding the disorders we cover in detail in subsequent videos. A disorder is defined as a pattern of abnormal thought or behavior or as the mind's normal mechanisms gone wrong. These disorders often result in stress, and can sometimes even prevent normal functioning in everyday life.

Clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) to take down their patients' symptoms and reach a diagnosis. The DSM is a work in progress, updated periodically to reflect changes in classification of disorders. Regardless of the disorder, the DSM doesn't give any recommendations for treatment; it's purely intended to aid in diagnosis.

Psychological disorders can have many causes, so treatment often depends on a variety of factors. The majority of the lessons in this topic outline the major classes of disorders and their potential causes. Some lessons cover disorders that might be familiar to you. In one video, we'll cover depression and other mood disorders, and in another we'll cover the psychotic disorder schizophrenia. Other lessons may seem less familiar, like the one on somatoform disorders, in which serious physical symptoms are produced entirely by the brain. You might be surprised to find videos on substance abuse and eating disorders listed under psychological disorders. But if we look back to our definition of disorder, we can see why all of these are grouped together: they're all characterized by negative patterns of thought or behavior.

With this series of video lessons and quizzes, we aim to demystify the subject of mental health. We hope you come away with a better understanding of the causes and symptoms of psychological disorders, but also of the unique difficulties involved in diagnosing them.

10 Lessons in Chapter 11: Psychological Disorders and Health
Definition of Disorders

1. Definition of Disorders

How are psychological disorders related to perception and learning? What type of psychologist helps treat these disorders? From imaginary voices to an intense fear of birds, this video will introduce you to the nature of disorders.

Classification and Diagnosis

2. Classification and Diagnosis

How do you diagnose something that you can't see? That's the problem faced by psychologists. This lesson will show you the tool they use to help diagnose their patients.

Anxiety Disorders

3. Anxiety Disorders

When do we cross the boundary between natural worry and the debilitating types of anxiety associated with disorders? In this lesson, you'll explore some common anxiety disorders and their potential causes.

Mood Disorders

4. Mood Disorders

Does feeling sad automatically mean someone is depressed? Are there different kinds of depression? What are mood disorders? This lesson will take a look at the answers to those questions.

Dissociative Disorders

5. Dissociative Disorders

There are times when the human brain can actually separate its different parts, sometimes as a defense mechanism. These are known as dissociative disorders. This lesson takes a closer look at these kinds of disorders and how they impact the mind.

Somatoform Disorders

6. Somatoform Disorders

What's the mind's relationship with the body? In this lesson we'll examine how some physical symptoms could actually be caused by psychological factors.

Substance Related Disorders

7. Substance Related Disorders

Many people have a drink now and then, but how do you know if you have a substance-related disorder? This lesson will help you learn the difference between just having a drink and having an actual problem.


8. Schizophrenia

Our perception of schizophrenia is largely shaped by what we see in the movies. Is schizophrenia more than just a 'hallucination' disease? Check out this lesson to find out about the different types of schizophrenia.

Eating Disorders

9. Eating Disorders

Many of us have something about our appearance that we'd like to change, but for some people these desires can develop into actual disorders. How are body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders related? This lesson gives you a closer look at these disorders and the impact they can have on people.

Personality Disorders

10. Personality Disorders

Will the Personality Disorder Crime Force make it out of the office today? In this lesson, you'll learn about each superhero's personality disorder as a late delivery of donuts sets off some of their common behaviors.

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