With the new DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) coming out in 2013, I thought I’d write on a few of the zillion diagnoses out there, ones I’ve posted about in the past. Since this blog goes to various sites, some of you may know more than I (and you can skip everything), if not, the summary may be useful. But first, I’d like to clarify what I think is an important point. Just like with a physical illness, e.g., diabetes, people with an identical mental illness, e.g., bipolar, may seem very different from each other. There are folks living relatively normal lives even with schizophrenia, which is considered the most serious of the mental illnesses. Yes, there are doctors and lawyers with this condition. Of course, there are others who need constant supervision, and many at various places within the two extremes, such as my son.
Without getting too technical, schizophrenia is considered a thought disorder. Symptoms fall into three categories: positive ones are those that are there, but shouldn’t be, e.g. hallucinations and delusions; negative ones are those that are not there but should be, e.g. appropriate emotions; cognitive symptoms involve problems with thinking rationally, e.g. logical connection between sentences.
Depression is a mood disorder. It involves episodes of extreme sadness which last longer than two weeks and interfere with ordinary functioning.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder falls within the anxiety spectrum. The obsessive part is characterized by intrusive thoughts. The compulsive part involves repetitive actions. Many people envision hand washing when they think of OCD. In my case, I had to repeat nonsense words ad nauseam.
Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) involves extreme shifts in mood from depression to mania (abnormally elated mood).
Schizoaffective disorder involves some symptoms of schizophrenia and some of a mood disorder, e.g. depression or mania or a combination of both.
You can, of course, get more information from a psych 101 textbook than the information I’ve provided, but if you’re really interested check out the DSM IV published in 1992 by the American Psychiatric Association. I suggest the library since the book is huge and expensive. It gets bigger with each edition so the fifth should be massive.
Seems like there are so many conditions that everyone is guaranteed to have at least one.