Affective Disorders (Bipolar Disorder and Depression)
Affective disorders or mood disorders include depression and bipolar affective disorder (manic-depressive illness). These are common psychiatric problems and affect 5 percent of adults at any given time. The essential characteristic is a disturbance in mood.
Bipolar illness is characterized by cycles of depression and/or mania.
Manic symptoms may include:
· Boundless energy, enthusiasm and need for activity
· Rapid, loud, disorganized speech
· Short temper and argumentativeness
· Involvement in activities that have painful consequences such as shopping sprees, reckless driving and unwise business investments
· Delusional thinking
When depressed, a person may:
· Have difficulty sleeping (too much or too little)
· Lose interest in daily activities, lose his appetite
· Suffer feelings of worthlessness, guilt or hopelessness
· Exhibit feelings of sadness
· Be unable to concentrate
· Experience extreme irritability
Major depression (described above) should not be confused with reactive depression or “the blues.” Reactive depression, sometimes called situational affective disorder, is a temporary condition triggered by life problems. Should this condition persist, the affected individual should consult a doctor to find out if it is becoming a major depression.
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Anxiety disorders affect approximately 7 to 15 percent of the population. One particular form, panic disorder, is characterized by recurrent panic attacks. The person experiences dizziness, chest discomfort, choking and sweating. The attacks generally last from a few minutes to a few hours. Panic attacks are accompanied by a sense of looming danger and a strong desire to escape. Anticipation of an attack and the subsequent fear of helplessness often complicate the problem and increase anxiety. Other forms of anxiety include fear of specific objects (phobias) or fear of going out (agoraphobia).
For more information on anxiety and related disorders:
This is a spectrum of disorders causing people to be constantly troubled by persistent ideas and feelings (obsessions) that force them to carry out repetitive actions and rituals (compulsions). Patients consider these thoughts senseless and sometimes disagreeable, but are unable to ignore or resist them. One-sixth of the population shows mild obsessive symptoms. Obsessive compulsive disorder generally starts in adolescence and develops intermittently. More information and better treatment is becoming available for those with the disorder.
Common obsessions include:
· Violent thoughts
· Fear of being infected by germs or dust
· Perpetual doubts (is the front door locked?)
· Obsessive ruminations that oblige a return to the same word, sentence or insolvable problem
Common compulsions include:
· Checking repeatedly
· Washing continually
· Cleaning to avoid contamination
· Arranging things JUST RIGHT by size, colour, number
For more information on OCD:
This is a very broad category of disorders related to rigid and deeply rooted impaired patterns in relating to, perceiving, and thinking about the environment and oneself. It is evident in individuals who fail to adjust to socially acceptable norms of behavior in vocational and social settings and who are incapable of establishing adequate, stable relationships.
Some of these disorders are:
Antisocial personality disorder
- An individual who may be in continuous social or legal trouble and may appear to profit very little from parental or social discipline
Borderline personality disorder
- Marked changes in mood for brief periods of time
- Having unstable, intense interpersonal relationships
- Prone to unpredictable action which could be self-damaging (ie cutting)
- Unstable self-image
Paranoid personality disorder
- Characteristically behaving towards others with unwarranted suspicion, envy, jealousy and stubbornness
- Feelings of having been taken advantage of, even in the face of evidence to the contrary
Obsessive compulsive personality disorder
- Characterized by a pervasive pattern of perfectionism and inflexibility beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts that interfere with task completion (indecisiveness, over-conscientiousness)
- Preoccupation with details while losing sight of over-all goals
- Unreasonable insistence on a particular way of doing things
- Excessive devotion to work
- This disorder can also cause restricted expression of affection, lack of generosity, inability to discard worthless objects.
For more information on personality disorders:
Postpartum depression, which many people consider “baby blues,” is also a form of major depression, not just a mild, short-term feeling of sadness after a baby is born. Along with the symptoms of depression, mothers may also experience:
· Lack of interest in the baby, family or friends
· Fear of being a bad mother
· Fear that harm will come to the baby
· Thoughts of harming the baby or herself
Postpartum depression is a treatable medical illness and should not be considered a natural reaction to being a mother of a newborn baby.
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Some people have symptoms that place them at a point between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These disorders have not been very clearly defined or studied. Their symptoms include those of both schizophrenia and mood disorders, though not at the same time. Physicians often treat these disorders with a combination of antipsychotics or anti-depressants and mood stabilizers.
For more information on schizoaffective disorder:
Schizophrenia is a disorder of the brain that affects mental processes such as thinking and judgment, sensory perception and the ability to appropriately interpret and respond to situations. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a split personality.
A biological brain disorder, schizophrenia is no one’s fault. About one percent of the adult population has schizophrenia. The first symptoms usually appear between ages 17 and 24 and can be confused with other common adolescent behaviours.
Many clinicians find it useful to describe typical schizophrenia symptoms as either “positive” or “negative.”
Positive symptoms include:
· Hallucinations: hearing, feeling or seeing things that exist only in the individual’s mind
· Delusions: persistent false beliefs, suspicions
· Communication difficulties or incoherence
· Bizarre and disorganized behaviour
Negative symptoms include:
· Deficiency in flow of thought, speech
· Inability to experience pleasure
· Lack of emotion or flatness of emotion
· Little desire for social contact
· Lack of interest or persistence
Both types of symptoms are part of the illness, but each person affected may have more of the positive or negative types. While schizophrenia cannot be cured, its symptoms can be treated successfully through medication.
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