Specific Disorders and
Three most commonly diagnosed
psychological disorders
Anxiety Disorders / Substance Abuse / Depression
Psychological disorders are behaviors or mental processes
that are connected with various kinds of distress or disability.
Lifetime prevalence of psychological disorders
Anxiety Disorders
 is fear and caution in the face of potential hazards
 is an appropriate response to a real threat
 is considered pathological when it interferes with daily
Anxiety has psychological and physical features.
 Psychological features such as worrying, fear of losing
control, inability to relax
 Physical features such as pounding heart, faintness, trembling
A combination of vulnerability and stress may produce psychological problems.
The top bar shows low vulnerability and low stress. The result? No problem.
The same is true of the second bar, where low vulnerability is combined with moderate stress.
Even high vulnerability (third bar) may not lead to problems if stress levels remain low.
However, when high vulnerability combines with moderate or high stress (bottom two bars) the
person “crosses the line” and suffers from psychopathology.
Types of disorders
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the experience of
almost constant and exaggerated worry.
There is no basis for the worries but the person is tense, irritable and tired.
About 5% of the general population will experience GAD.
Panic disorder (PD) is an abrupt attack of acute anxiety that
is not triggered by a specific object or situation.
They involve rapid breathing (hyperventilation), increased heart rate, chest
pains, and sweating
Sometimes the person’s subjective interpretation of the symptoms of
hyperventilation can cause an increase in panic.
Phobia are excessive, irrational fears of specific objects or
situations, such as snakes or heights.
Prevalence = About 11% of U.S. adults suffer from a phobia at
some point in their lives. About 5-6% are experiencing a
phobia at any given time.
Some common phobias include:
Agoraphobia = open spaces
Claustrophobia = closed spaces
Acrophobia = heights
Misophobia = germs
Acquiring Phobias
Some fears are innate but many are learned.
Some phobias can be traced to a specific event.
Therapy for Phobias
Behavior therapy for phobias
Systematic desensitization – reduces fear by gradually exposing
people to the object under controlled conditions. Virtual reality is now
being employed for this kind of therapy.
Flooding or implosion – a sudden and large-scale exposure to the
object under controlled conditions.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=3ppm2lhpkXs (1:50)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=CjvbFb3QW64 (1:21)
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by feelings of
anxiety and helplessness that are caused by a traumatic experience.
The traumatic event is revisited in the form of intrusive memories,
recurrent dreams, and flashbacks.
Substance Abuse
Individuals who find it difficult or impossible
to quit a dangerous habit are said to have an
addiction to it or a dependence on it.
There are two symptoms involved in the
development of a drug addiction.
Tolerance – decreased effects of a given dose.
Withdrawal – unpleasant sensations when the
drug is not used
Substance Abuse
Alcoholism is defined as the habitual overuse of
Both genetics and culture have an influence on
Treatment includes Detoxification programs,
Alcoholic Anonymous (AA)
Only 10-20% are successful and relapses are very
Mood Disorders
Characterized by long periods of sadness, little interest in anything
including food and sex, sleep abnormalities, feelings of worthlessness
Events that precipitate depression including severe losses in life,
lack of social support, FYI - It is not just the event but also the
person’s interpretation of the event’s significance that influences the
degree of depression.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Most people feel slightly better during the summer (when the sun is out most of the
day) than during the winter (when there are fewer hours of sunlight). Seasonal
affective disorder is commonest in far northern locations where the summer days are
very long and bright and the winter days are very short and dark. The disorder is
unheard-of in tropical locations such as Hawaii, where the amount of sunlight per day
varies only slightly between summer and winter.