A psychiatric or psychological disorder is a disorder of psychological function severe enough to warrant treatment by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. Schizophrenia, emotional disorders, Anxiety and Tourette’s syndrome are all classified as psychiatric disorders. The distinguishing line between neuropsychological disorders and psychiatric disorders is quite thin. Though the two types of disorders are a result of a dysfunctional brain, the malfunctions which create psychiatric disorders remain undefined. Psychiatric disorders are often linked to environmental factors as well as dysfunction of the brain. As psychological research advances, treatments and a better understanding of psychiatric disorders comes to bear.
The term schizophrenia means a psychic break or “splitting of psychic function”. (Pinel, 2007). The NIH & National Library of Medicine web site defines schizophrenia as having five different categories: catatonic, disorganized, paranoid, residual, and undifferentiated. (NIH & National Library of Medicine, 2008). Each category of the disorder has a specific set of symptoms that is mostly unique to that category of the disorder, but schizophrenia in general creates a delusional picture of reality which disrupts the person’s behavior, logic and emotions. A good example of schizophrenia and the related dissociative disorders are the movie Sybil or the more recent film A Beautiful Mind, and another fine example is the television show United States of Tara. Both movies and the Showtime network’s series depict the lives of a person suffering with schizophrenia or dissociative disorders.
Neuroleptics and antipsychotic drugs are known to alleviate symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Clozapine is a type of neuroleptic that does not produce side effects like those associated with Parkinson’s disease. The medication is known to cause blood disorders. Neuroleptic medication is used to block the dopamine receptors though it takes time for the drug to lessen schizophrenic symptoms. Though neuroleptics help schizophrenics, only certain patients do benefit from the relief these drugs can offer. Schizophrenic patients suffering from hallucinations and incoherence react to the medication; however; schizophrenics suffering from cognitive defects are not affected. The NIH & National Library of Medicine web site mentioned atypical antipsychotics have proven to treat symptoms for schizophrenia with few side effects and is the best option for those suffering with schizophrenia. (NIH & National Library of Medicine, 2008).
A surgeon in the 1950’s and early 1960’s used a drug called chlorpromazine on patients to alleviate swelling prior to surgery. The doctor noticed that the medicine acted as a calming agent and recommended chlorpromazine to relax hard to control psychotic patients. Chlorpromazine did not assuage the symptoms of psychosis, but the medicine showed potential for easing some symptoms in schizophrenic patients. During the research process the side effects of chlorpromazine which are symptoms of Parkinson’s disease were evident. Researchers concluded that people suffering from Parkinson’s disease die from a minute level of dopamine. Schizophrenics display a high-level of dopamine. Therefore Parkinson’s and Schizophrenia seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. A breakthrough emerged in the dopamine theory with Carlsson and Lindqvist.
The duo studied the Chlorpromazine in relation to schizophrenia and revised the dopamine theory of schizophrenia. Chlorpromazine was found to block dopamine receptors instead of the original theory of reducing dopamine levels. Therefore, the duo concluded through research that schizophrenia was not due to high-levels of dopamine, but with over activity at the dopamine receptors. (Pinel, 2007).
Emotional disorders are another form of a psychiatric disorder. Emotional disorders include: bipolar disorder, depression, and mania. Depression is classified as a state of unbearable sadness. At some point in a person’s life one will encounter a period of depression due to a tragedy such as loss of a loved one, poor health, or a series of bad luck. However, most people will break through the grip of depression and return to a normal life. Those with depression have a hard time seeing anything in a positive light. Depression ruins relationships at work and in the home; the disease also takes over the person making it difficult to engage in a normal day-to-day routine.
Mania is the opposite of depression and is linked to high energy and impulse. A person suffering from mania appears to be full of energy or “hopped up” on energy drinks like Red-Bull and caffeine; they are filled with such enthusiasm, have boundless energy and talk fast. Though it sounds like an exceptional thing to be constantly in a good spirits there is a negative side to the disorder. Impulsiveness is a part of mania and many suffers act on impulse not thinking before they do anything. The end result is unfinished projects, bills that cannot be paid, and relationships ruined. A person who suffers from manic episodes and depression episodes is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
There are two theories created to explain the causes of emotional disorders. According to Pinel (2007), “The monoamine theory of depression holds that depression is associated with under-activity at serotonergic and noradrenergic synapses. It is based on the fact that monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, and selective norepinephrinereuptake inhibitors are all agonists of serotonin, norepinephrine, or both.” The second theory is Diathesis-Stress model. The second theory focuses on genetic predispositions of a person as well as environmental factors that influence the disorder. This means that people who have stress early on will overreact to stressful situations later in life in turn causing depression. (Pinel, 2007).
There are four types of medicine used to treat emotional disorders. Iproniazid is a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI) initially used to treat tuberculosis but failed. On the contrary the patients did not have as many depressive thoughts about the illness. Iproniazid has severe effects when combined with tyramine rich foods. Imipamine is a tricyclic antidepressant which has proven to be more effective than MAOI’s. The next medication is Lithium which was shown to alleviate symptoms of mania.
The discovery was made when a researcher tested guinea pigs and the results proved to calm them. Lithium is used as a mood stabilizer in bi-polar patients since it blocks the patient from transitioning between extreme highs and lows. The fourth medicine used more commonly in recent years is selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The most common of the SSRI’s are Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. The SSRI’s are reported to have few side effects and are able to treat multiple disorders. (Pinel, 2007).
“Anxiety is chronic fear that persists in the absence of any direct threat.” (Pinel, 2007). Anxiety is accompanied by rapid heartbeat, heavy or difficulty breathing and high blood pressure. There are five types of anxiety disorders including: general anxiety, phobias, obsessive compulsiveness, panic, and post traumatic stress disorder. Theories involving anxiety disorders presume the amygdala has a role in anxiety disorders. The brain’s involvement in anxiety is cloudy at best since each patient tested shows different results. (Pinel, 2007). Benzodiazepines and serotonin agonists are the most effective medications used to combat anxiety. Valium and Librium are two of the most commonly prescribed medications, though they tend to make the patient drowsy. The medicine is also known to be highly addictive and is recommended only for short-term usage.
Buspirone is a serotonin agonist which relaxes the body and causes sleepiness. (Pinel, 2007). Tourette’s syndrome is known for involuntary movements or sounds known as tics. The Cedars-Sinai web site notes that the tics can vary from body movements and vocal tics. The tics can be a little as involuntary eye blinking or more noticeable yelling of obscene words or phrases. Little is known as to the cause of Tourette’s, however there is speculation that the limbic cortex, association cortex and thalamus are connected to the disorder. (Pinel, 2007). With the cause still a mystery there is no cure for Tourette’s, but though counseling, relaxation therapy and hypnosis healthcare professionals can help treat the disorder. (Cedars-Sinai. 2008).
Psychiatric disorders vary in many ways. Schizophrenia affects the brain and causes hallucinations, emotional disorders affect a person’s mood in extreme ways, and anxiety causes fear and health issues, while Tourette’s causes tics ranging from subtle to severe. Over time psychological advances in research and treatment have been made allowing professionals in the field to effectively treat each disorder.
CEDARS-SINAI. (2008). Tourette’s syndrome. Retrieved June 10, 2009, from http://www.csmc.edu/5540.html
NIH & National Library of Medicine. (2008). Medical Encyclopedia: Schizophrenia. Retrieved June 9, 2009, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000928.htm
Pinel, J. P. J. (2007). Basics of Biopsychology. Boston, MA. Allyn and Bacon.