What are psychological disorders?

Psychological disorders, also referred to as mental disorders, are abnormalities of the mind that result in persistent behavior patterns that can seriously affect your day-to-day function and life. Many different psychological disorders have been identified and classified, including eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa; mood disorders, such as depression; personality disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder; psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia; sexual disorders, such as sexual dysfunction; and others. Multiple psychological disorders may exist in one person.

The specific causes of psychological disorders are not known, but contributing factors may include chemical imbalances in the brain, childhood experiences, heredity, illnesses, prenatal exposures, and stress. Some disorders, such as borderline personality and depression, occur more frequently in women. Others, such as intermittent explosive disorder and substance abuse, are more common in men. Still other disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, affect men and women in roughly equal proportions.

When a person experiences mood or cognitive problems or behavioral issues for a long time, a psychological evaluation may be beneficial, and a diagnosis of a psychological disorder may follow. Treatment frequently involves psychotherapy to work on behaviors, skill development, and thought process. A person may be hospitalized for coexisting medical problems, serious complications, severe disorders, or substance abuse. Medications can be quite helpful for some psychological disorders.

Properly treated, people who have psychological disorders often improve; however, relapses are possible. Left untreated, some psychological problems can lead to academic, legal, social and work problems. Alcohol poisoning, drug overdose, suicide, and violent behavior are other potential complications.

Psychological disorders can have serious, even life-threating, complications. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for inability to care for one’s basic needs (food, water, shelter) or threatening, irrational or suicidal behavior.

Seek prompt medical care if you think you might have a psychological disorder or are being treated for one but symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of psychological disorders?

Symptoms of psychological disorders vary based on the specific disorder, but mood and behavioral symptoms are common. Symptoms can be chronic and relapsing. They can interfere with your ability to interact in society. Some psychological disorders can also cause physical symptoms. For example, panic attacks associated with anxiety disorders may have symptoms that look and feel like a Read more about psychological disorderssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes psychological disorders?

The causes of psychological disorders are not known, but a number of factors are thought to influence their development. These factors include chemical imbalances in the brain, childhood experiences, heredity, illnesses, prenatal exposures, and stress. Gender plays a role in some, but not all, psychological disorders.

What are the risk factors for psychological disorders?

... Read more about psychological disorderscauses

TREATMENTS

How are psychological disorders treated?

The first step in the treatment of psychological disorders is recognizing that a problem exists. Often, people who have psychological disorders deny their problem and do not seek medical care for their symptoms. Regular medical care can be helpful because it allows a health care professional to provide early screening tests. Regular medical care also provides an opportunity for your health care... Read more about psychological disorderstreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mental Health and Behavior