Understanding Mental Health

Anorexia Nervosa

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

The Signs To Look For:
Anorexia nervosa is a very serious, pathological loss of appetite and self induced limiting of food intake. Anorexia nervosa is better known as an eating disorder, characterised by refusal to eat and below the minimum body weight, considered normal for the person's age and height. It is typically associated with a tremendous amount of concern and misperception. People with anorexia see themselves as overweight, even though they are extremely thin and under the required weight benchmark. Unusual eating habits develop, such as avoiding what they perceive as high caloric food and meals, picking out a few foods and eating only these in small quantities, or carefully weighing and portioning food. People with anorexia may engage in other techniques to control their weight, such as intense and compulsive exercise or purging by means of vomiting and abuse of laxatives, enemas, and diuretics.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Symptoms of the disorder include distorted body image and an intense fear of weight gain, as well as repeated checks on body weight. Inadequate eating or excessive exercising that result in severe weight loss is seen. Eating disorders frequently develop during adolescence or early adulthood, but some reports indicate the onset can occur during childhood, or later in adulthood. Other symptoms include being physically underdeveloped, feeling weak and moving slowly, feeling very cold, concentration problems, hair thinning or falling out, loss of libido or sex drive, bone density problems, irregular menstruation.

How can Anorexia Nervosa be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • Psychological therapy such as Interpersonal therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), Focal psychodynamic therapy (FPT) and family intervention.
  • Supervised weight gain.

Adjustment Disorder

What is Adjustment Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Emotional and/or behavioral problems following a specific stressor, which significantly interferes with social, work, or school functioning - an unusually strong or long-lasting reaction to an upsetting event. The triggering event might be that of emotional upset, change or disappointment. A child or adult with the disorder will have a hard time coping with his/her emotions and may become depressed or anxious, exhibit hostility, show defiance, aggression and a general state of being unsettled.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
The inability to adjust to the stressful event can cause one or more severe psychological symptoms and sometimes even physical symptoms. The symptoms of an adjustment disorder begin within three months of the occurrence of the stressful event in one’s life. There are six types of adjustment disorders and each type is associated with distinct symptoms and signs. Adjustment disorders can affect both adults and children and present a host of emotional and behavioural problems such as hopelessness, anxiety, temper and coping issues. Diagnosis can be made if one is experiencing psychological or behavioral symptoms within three months of an identifiable stressor or stressors occurring in their life or experiencing more stress than would be ordinary in response to a specific stressor.

How can Adjustment Disorder be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • Psychotherapy
  • Crisis intervention
  • Family and group therapies
  • Support groups specific to the cause of the adjustment disorder
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT interpersonal psychotherapy, or IPT (short-term psychotherapy treatment)
Medication is used to lessen some of the symptoms of adjustment disorders include:
  • Benzodiazepines (such as lorazepam and alprazolam)
  • Nonbenzodiazepine Anxiolytic (such as gabapentin)
  • SSRI or SNRI (such as sertraline or venlafaxine)

Antisocial Personality Disorder

What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Antisocial Personality Disorder is a type of chronic mental condition in which a person's ways of thinking, perceiving situations and relating to others is dysfunctional and destructive. People with antisocial personality disorder typically have no regard for right and wrong, and often disregard the rights, wishes and feelings of others.

Those with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonise, manipulate or treat others either harshly or with callous indifference. They may often violate the law, landing in frequent trouble, yet they show no guilt or remorse. They may lie, behave violently or impulsively, and have problems with drug and alcohol use. These characteristics typically make people with antisocial personality disorder unable to fulfill responsibilities related to family, work or school.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others. They may have an inflated and arrogant self-appraisal (e.g. feel that ordinary work is beneath them or lack a realistic concern about their current problems or their future) and may be excessively opinionated, self-assured, or cocky. They may display a glib, superficial charm and can be quite voluble and verbally facile (e.g. using technical terms or jargon that might impress someone who is unfamiliar with the topic). Typically patients with this disorder are known to break the law and are irritable and aggressive, repeatedly engaging in physical fights or assaults. They feeling no remorse after harming others and have no regard for the safety of self or others. They also act impulsively and are irresponsible, failing to honour work or financial obligations.

How can Antisocial Personality Disorder be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • Psychotherapy
  • Antipsychotic, antidepressant or mood-stabilizing medications.

Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

The Signs To Look For:
People with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).

These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger and can last a long time. You may avoid places or situations to prevent these feelings. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias and separation anxiety disorder. You can have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Generalized physiological symptoms include, feeling nervous, restless or tense, having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom, increased heart rate, breathing rapidly (hyperventilation), sweating, trembling and feeling weak or tired. Patients also have trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry, have trouble sleeping and experience gastrointestinal problems. Types of disorders include agoraphobia, anxiety disorder due to a medical condition, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, substance-induced anxiety disorder and other specified anxiety disorders. Psychological evaluation combined with a careful assessment of diagnostic criteria is necessary to render a well rounded diagnosis.

How can Anxiety be treated?

Treatment and therapy:
  • CBT
  • Anti-depressants, buspirone and benzodiazepine
  • Alternative medicine

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that exceeds the typical range for a child's age, and interferes significantly with his functioning. ADHD makes it unusually difficult to concentrate on tasks, to pay attention, to sit still, and to control impulsive behavior. While some children exhibit mostly inattentive behaviors and others predominantly hyperactive and impulsive, the majority of those with ADHD have a combination of both. ADHD always starts in early childhood, but in some cases it's not diagnosed until later in life. It was once thought that ADHD was limited to childhood. But symptoms frequently persist into adulthood. For some people, adult ADHD causes significant problems that improve with treatment.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
ADHD behaviors usually become apparent when a child is between 3 and 6 years of age. Hyperactive or impulsive behaviors, which are often noticed, include fidgeting, an inability to sit still, excess energy, verbal outbursts, extreme impatience, talking incessantly, and interrupting others. The inattentive behaviors often become noticeable only when a child enters school. These children or adults be easily distracted, have difficulty following instructions, be unusually forgetful, struggle with organizing tasks, avoid things that involve mental exertion, and appear oblivious to what’s going on around them. Because symptoms of ADHD can also reflect other disorders, such as anxiety, depression or trauma, a professional diagnosis must be made to carefully rule out other possible reasons.

How can Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder be treated?

Treatment and therapy:
  • Stimulants and medication such as methylphenidate (Concerta, Metadate, Ritalin, others), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), dextroamphetamine-amphetamine (Adderall XR), and lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), Atomoxetine (Strattera) and antidepressants such as bupropion (Wellbutrin).
  • CBT, martial and/or family counseling.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

What is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
People afflicted with avoidant personality disorder are often too sensitive to criticism or rejection, feel inadequate, inferior or unattractive and avoid work or activities that require interpersonal contact. They exhibit social inhibition, timidity and isolation, especially avoiding new activities or meeting new people. Their behaviour is characterized by extreme shyness in social situations and personal relationships as well as a fear of disapproval, embarrassment or ridicule. Individuals with Avoidant Personality Disorder often vigilantly appraise the movements and expressions of those with whom they come into contact. Their fearful and tense demeanor may elicit ridicule from others, which in turn confirms their self-doubts. The major problems associated with this disorder occur in social and occupational functioning. The low self-esteem and hypersensitivity to rejection are associated with restricted interpersonal contacts. These individuals may become relatively isolated and usually do not have a large social support network that can help them weather crises. They desire affection and acceptance and may fantasize about idealised relationships with others.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of feelings of inadequacy, extreme sensitivity to what other people think about them, and social inhibition. It typically manifests itself by early adulthood and includes a majority of symptoms such as avoidance of occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection, unwillingness to get involved with people unless certain of being liked, restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed, preoccupation with being criticized or rejected in social situations and a general feeling of low self esteem. A diagnosis for avoidant personality disorder is made by a mental health professional comparing your symptoms and life history.

How can Avoidant Personality Disorder be treated?

Treatment and therapy:
  • Psychotherapy
  • Anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotic drugs and anti-anxiety medication.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been redefined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a single disorder that includes disorders that were previously considered separate — autism, Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. The term ‘spectrum’ in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. There are multiple causes of ASD, although most are not yet known. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but they may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Symptoms of ASD in children include inability to respond to the name by 12 months of age, not point at objects to show interest by 14 months, avoidance in making eye contact, trouble understanding other people's feelings or talking about their own feelings, delayed speech and language skills, echolalia, responding with unrelated answers to questions, a state of upset by minor changes, obsessive interests and unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel. Because ASD varies widely in severity, making a diagnosis may be difficult. There isn't a specific medical test to determine the disorder. There isn't a specific medical test to determine the disorder. Instead, a specialist in ASD may observe the child and enquire of the child's social interactions; communication skills and behavior have developed and changed over time. The specialist may take tests covering speech, language, developmental level, and social skills. He or she may also include other specialists in determining a diagnosis as well as recommend genetic testing to identify whether the child has a genetic disorder such as fragile X syndrome.

How can Autism Spectrum Disorder be treated?

Treatment and therapy:
  • Educational therapies
  • Behaviour and communication therapies
  • Family therapies
  • Medications such antidepressants and antipsychotics to control symptoms

Binge Eating Disorder

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Binge eating disorder is characterized by compulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control. The signs of binge eating disorder usually begin in late adolescence or early adulthood, often after a major diet. A binge-eating episode typically lasts around two hours, but some people binge on and off all day long. Binge eaters often eat even when they’re not hungry and continue eating long after they’re full. They may also gorge themselves as fast as they can while barely registering what they’re eating or tasting. The key features of binge eating disorder are frequent episodes of uncontrollable binge eating and feeling extremely distressed or upset during or after bingeing. People with binge eating disorder often struggle with feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression. Unlike bulimia, there are no regular attempts to ‘make up’ for the binges through vomiting, fasting, or over-exercising.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Most people with binge-eating disorder are overweight or obese, but you may be at a normal weight. Behavioural and emotional signs and symptoms of binge-eating disorder include, eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a 2-hour period. People suffering from this disorder tend to feel that their eating behavior is out of control, eat rapidly even when feeling full and frequently eat alone, causing them to feel depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about eating. These individuals usually take to dieting, possibly without weight loss. A diagnosis can be made, when one experiences recurrent episodes of eating an abnormally large amount of food characterized by a lack of control during bingeing as well as binge eating that's associated with at least three of these factors: eating rapidly; eating until you're uncomfortably full; eating large amounts when you're not hungry; eating alone out of embarrassment; or feeling disgusted, depressed or guilty after eating. To be diagnosed a disorder, binge eating must occur at least once a week for at least three months, amongst other factors.

How can Binge Eating Disorder be treated?

Treatment and therapy:
  • Psychotherapy such as CBT, interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavior therapy
  • Lisdexamfetaminedimesylate (Vyvanse), anticonvulsant topiramate, antidepressants

Bipolar Disorder

What is Bipolar Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives. Bipolar disorder often appears in the late teens or early adult years. At least half of all cases start before age 25. Some people have their first symptoms during childhood, while others may develop symptoms late in life. People with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called ‘mood episodes’. Each mood episode represents a drastic change from a person's usual mood and behavior. An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Sometimes, a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression. This is called a mixed state.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
People with bipolar disorder also may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode. Extreme changes in energy, activity, sleep, and behavior go along with these changes in mood. There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. For each type, the exact symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary from person to person. Bipolar I and bipolar II disorders also have additional specific features that can be added to the diagnosis based on the particular signs and symptoms. The primary symptoms of bipolar disorder are dramatic and unpredictable mood swings. Mania symptoms may include excessive happiness, excitement, irritability, restlessness, increased energy, less need for sleep, racing thoughts, high sex drive, and a tendency to make grand and unattainable plans. Depression symptoms may include sadness, anxiety, irritability, loss of energy, uncontrollable crying, change in appetite causing weight loss or gain, increased need for sleep, difficulty making decisions, and thoughts of death or suicide. Diagnosing bipolar disorder requires a physical and psychological evaluation as well as mood charting in addition to a comparison of symptoms with the criteria for bipolar and related disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Bipolar symptoms in children and teens often have different patterns than they do in adults and may not fit neatly into the categories used for diagnosis.

How can Bipolar Disorder be treated?

Treatments and therapy:
  • Psychotherapy, CBT
  • Medication such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antidepressant-antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a distinct mental disorder in which a person has symptoms of a medical illness, but the symptoms cannot be fully explained by an actual physical disorder. People with BDD are preoccupied with an imagined physical defect or a minor defect that others often cannot see. As a result, people with this disorder see themselves as "ugly" and often avoid social exposure to others or turn to plastic surgery to try to improve their appearance. The most common areas of concern for people with BDD include skin imperfections such as wrinkles, scars, acne, and blemishes, head or body hair or the lack of hair, preoccupation with the size and shape of facial features such as the nose and most commonly, body weight — patients may obsess about their weight or muscle tone.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Signs and symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder include preoccupation with one’s physical appearance and extreme self-consciousness, characterized by a strong belief that one has an abnormality or defect in appearance. Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way, avoidance of social situations, a need to seek reassurance about one’s appearance from others, resorting to cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction, Excessive grooming, such as hair plucking or skin picking, or excessive exercise in an unsuccessful effort to improve the perceived flaw/ the need to grow a beard or wear excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws, reluctance to appear in pictures. People may also obsess over multiple body parts. Most experts agree that many cases of BDD go unrecognized, as people with the disorder often are embarrassed and reluctant to talk about their concerns. One red flag to doctors is when patients repeatedly seek plastic surgery for the same or multiple perceived physical defects. The psychiatrist or psychologist then makes a diagnosis based on his or her assessment of the person's attitude, behavior, and symptoms.

How is Body Dysmorphic Disorder treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • CBT
  • Medication that includes serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Faverin), paroxetine (Seroxat), escitalopram (Cipralex) and sertraline (Lustral).

Borderline Personality Disorder

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes a pattern of unstable intense relationships, distorted self-image, extreme emotions and impulsiveness. One has an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and difficulty being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have loving and lasting relationships. Self-image, goals, likes and dislikes may change frequently in ways that feel confusing and unclear. Borderline personality disorder usually begins by early adulthood. The condition seems to be worse in young adulthood and may gradually get better with age.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
The key symptoms include fear of abandonment, unstable relationships, unclear self-image, impulsive and destructive behaviours, suicidal threats, self-harm, extreme mood swings, chronic feelings of emptiness, anger and temper problems, feelings of suspicion or loss of touch with reality. Personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder, are diagnosed based on a detailed interview with the doctor or mental health provider by way of a psychological evaluation that may include completing questionnaires, medical history and examination and a review of signs and symptoms. A diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is usually made in adults, not in children or teenagers because what appear to symptoms of borderline personality disorder may go away as children get older and become more mature.

How can Borderline Personality Disorder be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • Psychotherapy that includes Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), Schema-focused therapy, Mentalisation-based therapy (MBT), Systems training for emotional predictability and problem-solving (STEPPS), Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT).
  • There is no drug specifically licensed to treat BPD, but psychiatric medication may help treat some of the problems because of – or as well as – BPD. These include antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilisers.

Bulimia Nervosa

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

The Signs To Look For:
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating, followed by frantic efforts to avoid gaining weight. It affects women and men of all ages. When one is struggling with bulimia, life is a constant battle between the desire to lose weight or stay thin, and the overwhelming compulsion to binge eat.
The individual doesn’t want to binge, and is aware that they’ll feel guilty and ashamed afterwards, but time and again, they give in. During an average binge, an individual may consume from 3,000 to 5,000 calories in one short hour.

Bulimia can be categorized in two ways:

  • Purging Bulimia, characterized by self-induced vomiting or misusing laxatives, diuretics or enemas after eating.
  • Non-purging Bulimia to get rid of calories and prevent weight gain, such as fasting, strict dieting or excessive exercise.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Signs and symptoms of Bulimia center on the preoccupation with weight and body shape. Guilt and shame are core symptoms of Bulimia. Someone who is Bulimic, like a person suffering from anorexia and other eating disorders, judges him- or herself harshly for any perceived flaw. While most people are occasionally self-critical without suffering major consequences, men and women with Bulimia Nervosa develop serious mental and emotional distortions. Despite a Bulimic’s efforts to conceal the symptoms of an eating disorder, certain warning signs of bulimia are typically visible — depression, anxiety, social isolation, having a distorted and excessively negative body image, preoccupation with body shape and weight. In a man or woman with signs of Bulimia, symptoms of increasing physical damage from the disease may include, abnormal bowel functioning, bloating, dehydration, fainting, seizures, fatigue, dry skin, irregular heartbeat, menstrual irregularities or loss of menstruation (amenorrhea), tingling in the hands or feet and muscle cramps. Diagnosis involves recurrent episodes of eating an abnormally large amount of food, a lack of control during bingeing, methods to get rid of the extra calories from bingeing to avoid weight gain by vomiting, excessive exercise, fasting, or misuse of laxatives, diuretics or other medications and the act of bingeing and purging at least once a week for at least three months. Further, one’s body shape and weight influence feelings of self-worth.

How can Bulimia Nervosa be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • CBT, family based therapy, inter personal family therapy.
  • The only antidepressant specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat bulimia is fluoxetine (Prozac), a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
  • Alternative therapy.

Conduct Disorder

What is Conduct Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Conduct disorder is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in children and adolescents in which the rights of others or basic social rules are violated. The child or adolescent usually exhibits these behavior patterns in a variety of settings—at home, at school, and in social situations—and they cause significant impairment in his or her social, academic, and family functioning. Behaviors characteristic of conduct disorder include, aggressive behavior that causes or threatens harm to other people or animals, such as bullying or intimidating others, often initiating physical fights, or being physically cruel to animals. Signs of conduct disorder also include non-aggressive conduct that causes property loss or damage, such as fire-setting or the deliberate destruction of others’ property. Deceitfulness or theft, such as breaking into someone’s house or car, or lying or ‘conning ’others are also categorized as conduct disorder out breaks, along with serious rule violations, such as staying out at night when prohibited, running away from home overnight, or often being truant from school.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Symptoms of conduct disorder vary depending on the age of the child and whether the disorder is mild, moderate, or severe. In general, symptoms of conduct disorder fall into four general categories. i] Aggressive behavior: These are behaviours that threaten or cause physical harm and may include fighting, bullying, being cruel to others or animals, using weapons, and forcing another into sexual activity. ii] Destructive behavior: This involves intentional destruction of property such as arson (deliberate fire-setting) and vandalism (harming another person's property). iii] Deceitful behavior: This may include repeated lying, shoplifting, or breaking into homes or cars in order to steal. iv] Violation of rules: This involves going against accepted rules of society or engaging in behavior that is not appropriate for the person's age. These behaviors may include running away, skipping school, playing pranks, or being sexually active at a very young age. The mental health practitioner will ask the parent and child questions about their behavioural patterns to make a diagnosis. For a conduct disorder diagnosis to be made, the child must have a pattern of displaying at least three behaviors that are common to conduct disorder. The child must also have shown at least one of the behaviors within the past six months. The behavioural problems must also significantly impair the child socially or at school.

How can Conduct Disorder be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • CBT, PMT (parent management training)
  • Medication for distressing symptoms such as ADHD or depression

Dissociative Disorders

What are Dissociative Disorders?

The Signs To Look For:
Dissociative disorders cause problems with functioning in everyday life. Someone with a dissociative disorder escapes reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy. The person with a dissociative disorder experiences a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity. The symptoms of dissociative disorders, ranging from amnesia to alternate identities depend in part on the type one may have. Symptoms usually develop as a reaction to trauma and help keep difficult memories at bay. Times of stress can temporarily worsen symptoms, making them more obvious. Dissociative Disorders are characterized by a disruption in the normal functioning of consciousness, identity, memory, or the world around the patient. Dissociative disorders can be acute or chronic.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Several questionnaires can be used to assess whether you have a dissociative disorder. Clinicians who use these assessment tools should have specialist training and a good understanding of dissociative disorders. Clinicians who have extensive knowledge and experience of working with dissociative disorders may be able to recognise a dissociative disorder, using clinical judgment alone. Symptoms of dissociative disorders include: memory loss (amnesia) of certain time periods, events and people, mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and attempts, a sense of being detached from yourself, a perception of the people and things around you as distorted and unreal, a blurred sense of identity, significant stress or problems in relationships, work or other important areas of life. There are three major dissociative disorders defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association – dissociative amnesia, dissociative identity disorder, depersonalisation-derealisation. All of the dissociative disorders are thought to stem from trauma experienced by the individual with this disorder. The dissociative aspect is thought to be a coping mechanism -- the person literally dissociates himself from a situation or experience too traumatic to integrate with his conscious self. Symptoms of these disorders, or even one or more of the disorders themselves, are also seen in a number of other mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. There are quite low rates of diagnosis for dissociative disorders.

How can Dissociative Disorders be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • Talk therapy or psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and adjunctive therapies such as art or movement therapy.
  • Medication for co-existing disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

What is Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD), is a condition in which a child is chronically irritable and experiences frequent, severe temper outbursts that seem grossly out of proportion to the situation at hand. It manifests as chronic, severe and persistent irritability in children that often includes frequent temper outbursts that are inconsistent with the child's developmental age. These children do not experience the episodic mania or hypomania characteristic of bipolar disorder, and they do not typically develop adult bipolar disorder, although they are at elevated risk for depression and anxiety as adults. Unlike pediatric bipolar disorder, DMDD is thought to occur more often in boys than girls. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is characterized by temper outbursts that are frequent, severe, inconsistent with the situation at hand, and inconsistent with a child’s developmental level. But key to the disorder is not just the pattern of a child’s outbursts, but his mood between outbursts.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Symptoms broadly include severe recurrent temper outbursts manifested verbally and/or behaviorally that are grossly out of proportion in intensity or duration to the situation or provocation. The temper outbursts are inconsistent with developmental level (e.g., the child is older than you would expect to be having a temper tantrum).
The temper outbursts occur, on average, three or more times per week. The mood between temper outbursts is persistently irritable or angry most of the day, nearly every day, and is observable by others (e.g., parents, teachers, and friends).
The aforementioned criteria have been present for 1 year or more, without a relief period of longer than 3 months. The above criteria must also be present in two or more settings (e.g., at home and school), and are severe in at least one of these settings.
The diagnosis should not be made for the first time before age 6 years or after age 18. Age of onset of these symptoms must be before 10 years old.
A clinician considering disruptive mood dysregulation disorder would looking for severe temper outbursts that occur, on average, three or more times per week. In addition, the child’s mood between outbursts must be consistently and observably angry or irritable. For diagnosis of DMDD to take place, a child must experience this pattern of frequent outbursts, plus consistent anger or irritability between outbursts, for 12 or more months. During this 12-month period, the child must show symptoms consistently, meaning that he does not experience a break of three or more months without symptoms of DMDD. Outbursts, or elevated or expansive moods that last for longer than a few hours or for days on end, are more likely to be signs of mania, which would rule out DMDD.

How can Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • CBT, applied behavior analysis
  • Stimulant medication, antidepressant medication like SSRIs

Depression/ Major Depressive Disorder

What is Depression/ Major Depressive Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. But clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships -- symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks. In addition, according to the DSM – one may have other symptoms with major depression. It causes severe symptoms that affect how one feels, thinks, and handles daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances, such as persistent depressive disorder, perinatal depression, psychotic depression, seasonal affective disorder and bipolar disorder.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
Depression can be an all-encompassing disorder, and it affects a person's body, feelings, thoughts, and behaviours in varying ways. Common signs and symptoms of depression in children and teenagers are similar to those of adults, but there can be some differences. In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusing to go to school, or being underweight. In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction. Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can demonstrate irritability without sadness or loss of interest. However, major depression can occur with ADHD. Unfortunately, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults, and they may feel reluctant to seek help. Symptoms of depression may be different or less obvious in older adults, such as: memory difficulties or personality changes, physical aches or pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems, aches or loss of libido (not caused by a medical condition or medication), reclusive behavior, suicidal thinking or feelings. To effectively diagnose and treat depression, the doctor must hear about specific symptoms of depression. While a physical examination will reveal a patient's overall state of health, by talking with a patient, a doctor can learn about other things that are relevant to making a depression diagnosis. A patient can report on such things as daily moods, behaviors, and lifestyle habits.

How can Depression/ Major Depressive Disorder be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • CBT, family or couple’s therapy, group therapy
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), atypical antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

Factitious Disorder

What is Factitious Disorder?

The Signs To Look For:
Factitious disorder (FD) is an umbrella category that covers a group of mental disturbances in which patients intentionally act physically or mentally ill without obvious benefits. Factitious disorders are typically conditions in which a person deliberately and consciously acts as if he or she has a physical or mental illness, when he or she is not really sick. Factitious disorder by proxy, is when a person acts as if a person in their care has an illness when they do not. People with factitious disorders deliberately create or exaggerate symptoms of an illness in several ways. They may lie about or fake symptoms, hurt themselves to bring on symptoms, or alter tests to make it look like they or the person in their care are sick. People with factitious disorders behave this way because of an inner need to be seen as ill or injured, not to achieve a clear benefit, such as financial gain. People with factitious disorders are even willing and sometimes eager to undergo painful or risky tests and operations in order to obtain the sympathy and special attention given to people who are truly ill or have a loved one who is ill. Factitious disorders are considered mental illnesses because they are associated with severe emotional difficulties. Many people with factitious disorders also suffer from other mental conditions, particularly personality disorders.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms & Diagnosis:
DSM-IV-TR defines factitious disorder as having three major subtypes:
FD with predominantly psychological signs and symptoms.
FD with predominantly physical signs and symptoms.
FD with combined psychological and physical signs and symptoms.
A fourth syndrome, known as Ganser Syndrome, has been classified in the past as a form of factitious disorder, although DSM-IV-TR groups it with the dissociative disorders. DSM-IV-TR specifies three criteria for factitious disorder:

  • The patient is intentionally producing or pretending to have physical or psychological symptoms or signs of illness.
  • The patient's motivation is to assume the role of a sick person.
  • There are no external motives that explain the behaviour.

Because people with factitious disorder become experts at faking symptoms and diseases or inflicting real injuries upon themselves, it may be hard for medical professionals and loved ones to know if illnesses are real or not. People with factitious disorder may be well aware of the risk of injury or even death as a result of self-harm or the treatment they seek. Still, they are unable to control their compulsive behavior and are unlikely to seek help. Even when confronted with proof — such as a videotape — that they're causing their illness, they often deny it and refuse psychiatric help.

How can Factitious Disorder be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:
  • Psychotherapy, family therapy and behaviour counseling
  • Medication for co-existing disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Gender Dysphoria

What is Gender Dysphoria?

The Signs to look for:
Gender Dysphoria is diagnosed when there is a marked incongruence between one’s assigned gender and one’s expressed gender, lasting over a prolonged period of time, typically over six months. Sometimes, children and adolescents may not fully identify with the gender they are born with. This is often commonly known as transgender, when boys prefer to dress up in female attire and girls prefer to dress up in masculine clothing. They may also show preference for games and other things that are typically associated with the opposite gender. This is often manifested when children identify with cross- gender in make believe, fantasy play.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
The symptoms that a child or adolescent would display in such cases are strong insistence that they belong to the opposite gender, dislike for ones sexual anatomy, strong preference for toys and activities associated with the other gender, strong preference of friends from the other gender, cross-dressing. One may be diagnosed with gender dysphoria when there is a strong mismatch between ones gender identity and biological sex. This adversely affects their normal functioning in social and other contexts, causing them significant distress, because they feel trapped in the wrong body.

How can Gender Dysphoria be treated?

Treatment and Therapy

The treatments and therapy available for gender dysphoria such as psychological medical and surgical depends from person to person, whether it’s a child, adolescent or adult. There is a good evidence base for the following treatments.

  • Family therapy, Psychotherapy, group work for young people and their parents, review and monitor gender identity development
  • Hormone therapy

Histrionic Personality Disorder

What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?

The Signs to look for
Histrionic Personality Disorder is a Cluster B Personality Disorder in the DSM-V, and usually consists of problems relating to others, presenting behaviours that are considered odd or threatening by others. An adult with Histrionic Personality Disorder is uncomfortable being ignored and constantly wants to be the center of attention. They may act inappropriately, such as dressing provocatively or flirting with others to get attention.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
In relationships, they consider themselves to be more intimate than they actually are, they have constantly shifting moods and emotions. They constantly seek reassurance from people, showing excessive emotions but lacking genuine emotions. Histrionic people are self-centered and care little about others. A diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder is made by a mental health professional after considering ones symptoms and life history.

How can Histrionic Personality Disorder be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • Treatment for personality disorders usually includes psychological therapies such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Huntington’s Disease

What is Huntington’s Disease?

The Signs to look for
Huntington’s disease is an inherited condition, which affects movement, cognitions and behavior. Age of onset is usually during adulthood between 35 years to 50 years of age and the condition progressively gets worse until the person dies. The early signs of Huntington’s disease include sudden mood shifts, personality changes, unusual behaviors that are commonly overlooked at the beginning. People with Huntington’s often present with movement problems, communication problems, feeding problems, sexual problems and co-morbid conditions such as depression.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
People with Huntington’s typically start experiencing symptoms before they develop the condition. A diagnosis of Huntington’s usually depends on consideration of the behavioral, physical and psychiatric features, neurological examination, family history and genetic testing.

How can Huntington’s Disease be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • There is no cure for this disease but one can manage the progression of the disorder. Therapies such as speech and language and occupational therapy can help with day-to-day living.
  • Medications for co-morbid conditions also help.

Insomnia

What is Insomnia?

The Signs to look for
Insomnia is characterised by dissatisfaction with sleep quality and quantity, difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep. Signs include inability to initiate sleep at night; in children it’s often manifested as inability to fall asleep without the presence of the primary care giver. Other signs include frequent awakenings during the night and difficulty returning to sleep, lying awake for long periods at night, waking up early in the morning and inability to fall asleep. The person doesn’t wake up feeling refreshed and is often tired, irritable, unable to concentrate and finds it hard to nap during the day despite being tired.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
To be diagnosed with Insomnia, the sleep difficulty symptoms should cause significant distress or impairment in various areas of functioning such as occupational, educational, social etc. It should occur for at least three nights in the week and the symptoms should be present for three months. The sleeplessness should not be the physiological effect of a medication or another substance, and it occurs despite enough opportunities to sleep. The symptoms are not explained by any other co-morbid mental health condition.

How can Insomnia be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • Establish good sleeping habits
  • Cognitive and behavioral treatments
  • Sleeping Medication

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The Signs to look for
The DSM V classifies Narcissistic personality disorder as a Cluster B personality disorder. People with Cluster B disorders have difficulty relating with others and often present with behaviours that may be considered eccentric, different, disturbing by others. They have an inflated sense of self-importance and show an intense need for other people to look up to them. They often present as arrogant, haughty towards others.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
People with Narcissistic personality disorder exaggerate their achievements or abilities to others; need to be treated special; are preoccupied by fantasies of success, power, beauty; lack empathy for others; look down on people they consider beneath them, envious of people above them; and exploit others for their personal gain. Symptoms of Narcissistic personality disorder typically appear by early adulthood.

How can Narcissistic Personality Disorder be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • Psychological therapies such as psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy
  • Medications can be prescribed for associated symptoms of anxiety, depression and psychotic symptoms.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

The Signs to look for
A person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) experiences recurrent, unwanted, anxiety-provoking thoughts urges and images and they feel a compulsion to carry out a mental or physical activity that gives them temporary relief from the unpleasant feelings. For example, a person may fear burglary and he may repeatedly check the doors and the windows before he leaves home. The degree of compulsive and obsessive thoughts and activities differs from person to person.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
Recurrent obsessions, intrusive thoughts or images cause the individual significant mental distress. The individual tries to control these thoughts and urges by ignoring them or by acting out compulsions, which are mental or behavioral activities, are aimed at reducing the anxiety caused by the obsessive thoughts. To be diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the compulsions and obsessions should be time consuming, taking more than one hour per day. In severe cases, the compulsions take over the entire day. The symptoms are not explained by any other mental disorder or medical condition or substance.

How can Obsessive Compulsive Disorder be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involving graded exposure, which is controlled exposure to the feared thoughts, urges and images and letting the obsessive thoughts occur without neutralizing them with compulsions.
  • Medications that can help reduce the symptoms include Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

The Signs to look for
Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a behavioral disorder and children. They are guided by anger and are disobedient, defiant towards authority figures such as parents and teachers. This disobedience is beyond what is typically expected during childhood, and puts considerable pressure on family and negatively impacts the child’s learning and social life. With peers, such children are often seen to be vindictive, deliberatively annoying others and are quick to blame others for their misbehavior. It often presents with other co morbid conditions such as ADHD.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
For a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant disorder, the symptoms of irritable mood, defiant and vindictive behavior should be present in children under 5 years, on most days of the week for a period of 6 months. For children older than 5 years, it should be present at least once every week, for a period of 6 months. It should cause significant distress to the individual and those around the individual, and the behaviors should not meet the criteria for disruptive mood regulation disorder. Symptoms may be present in one setting, such as home or the school or across settings.

How can Oppositional Defiant Disorder be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • Treatment options usually depend on the age of onset and severity of symptoms, but there is good evidence base for family therapy, parent child psychotherapy, peer group therapy and medication.

Panic Disorder

What is Panic Disorder?

The Signs to look for
A person with a panic disorder diagnosis, experiences panic attacks which is an abrupt and unexpected surge of feelings, accompanied by strong psychological responses such as fear, anxiety and physiological responses such as sweating, palpitations, trembling, chest pain, feeling dizzy, chills or heat sensations, shortness of breath.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
For a diagnosis, panic attacks must be recurring, unexpected, and must be followed by at least one month of persistent worrying, about experiencing another panic attack. Individuals with panic disorders find maladaptive ways of dealing with panic attacks, such as avoiding situations or activities that may trigger an attack. It is also important for a diagnosis that the symptoms are not attributable to a substance or another medical condition, or better explained by another mental disorder.

How can Panic Disorders be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • Treatment for panic disorders is mainly directed at reducing the number of panic attacks and severity of symptoms experienced by the individual and is usually done though psychotherapy and medication.

Paraphilic Disorders

What are Paraphilic Disorders?

The Signs to look for
Paraphilic Disorders are a group of psychosexual disorders, which include sexual behaviors directed towards another person, intending to cause them psychological distress or injury. The individual may carry out sexual behaviors and fantasies with non-consenting partners, which is considered defiant with regards to cultural norms. The signs to look out for include extreme highs and lows in temperament, early relationship difficulties, a history of sexual abuse, disruptive development of sexuality and others. Paraphilia’s include exhibitionism, frotteurism, sexual masochism, sexual sadism, transvestic fetishism, voyeurism, and pedophilia.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
For a diagnosis of paraphilic disorders the individual should have experienced recurrent and intense sexual arousal for a period of at least 6 months, and the individual has acted on these impulses with non-consenting partners. These sexual desires and urges cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational and other areas of the individuals functioning and pose significant psychological and physical threat to others.

How can Paraphilic Disorders be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
Paraphilia are commonly treated with

  • Drug Therapy
  • Psychotherapy aiming at understanding early relationships
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

The Signs to look for
The DSM V classifies Paranoid Personality Disorder as a Cluster A personality disorder, in which one has problems relating to others and exhibit behaviors that are considered strange or odd by others. A person with Paranoid Personality Disorder is extremely distrustful or suspicious of other people’s motives and intentions. Some identifiable beliefs and behaviors of such individuals include extreme mistrust, hyper vigilance, difficulty forgiving others, defensive attitude in response to imagined criticism, preoccupation with hidden motives, fear of being deceived or taken advantage of, inability to relax, argumentative.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
Symptoms include distrust of friends and associates, including fidelity of life partner or sexual partner. They feel others take advantage of them or exploit them and are preoccupied with such thoughts. People with Paranoid Personality Disorder do not confide in others because they are suspicions that any information will be used against them. They perceive attacks on their character by others and are quick to react angrily and consider benign remarks or innocent looks as demeaning or insulting. Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder typically appear by early adulthood and symptoms are not explained by another psychotic disorder or attributable to a physiological response to a medication.

How can Paranoid Personality Disorder be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • reatment for personality disorders usually includes psychological therapies such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  • Medications can be prescribed for associated symptoms of anxiety, depression, psychotic symptoms

Phobic Disorders

What is Phobic Disorders?

The Signs to look for
A phobia is an irrational and debilitating fear, anxiety about a specific object or situation such as flying, driving, an animal, getting a injection, blood etc. The anxiety experienced in these cases is out of proportion to the actual threat or danger the object or the situation poses. It restricts the person’s life, as the person experiencing them will avoid or endure the situation or object with intense fear or anxiety.

Other general phobias include agoraphobia, which is fear of open spaces and social phobia, which is intense fear of social situations. People who have agoraphobia tend to avoid public places. Social phobia may start off as shyness, which then becomes exaggerated to the point of disrupting the person’s life.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
The phobic object or situation always provokes immediate fear and anxiety. For a fear or anxiety to be clinically concerning it has to last for more than 6 months, and the fear causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational functioning of the individual.

How can Phobic Treatment and Therapy
  • Behaviour therapy involving gradual and repeated exposure to the feared object or situation is recommended.
    For example, a person who fears dogs might start treatment by looking at a picture of the dog, to observing a dog from a distance, to being in the same room with a dog, and so on.
  • Medications may be helpful for some people who have phobias.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is Post Traumatic Stress disorder?

The Signs to look for
It is normal for people who experience a traumatic event first hand or witness it happening to others to feel upset or confused after the event. They may experience strong emotional responses such as getting easily distressed or physiological responses such as affected sleep. This is understandable and the signs should disappear in a short period of time. However, if extreme responses continue for more than one month, one may be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD may occur in a person directly exposed to actual or threatened death, serious harm, sexual abuse or witnessing a traumatic event as it happens to others, or learning of the traumatic event happening to close family or friend. Such people often experience recurrent intrusive thoughts and nightmares after the traumatic event, repetitive and disturbing images or sensations related to the traumatic event, negative emotional states such as guilt, shame, fear, hyper vigilance which affects sleep, concentration, mood. Thoughts about the traumatic event may trigger strong physiological responses such a sweating, nausea. They may develop other co-morbid conditions such as depression and anxiety.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
In adults, intrusion symptoms include distressing dreams about the stressful event, recurring memories, dissociative reactions such as flashbacks, psychological distress at being exposed to some aspect of the traumatic event, marked physiological response. Other symptoms include marked change in reactivity to the traumatic event such as irritable behavior or angry outbursts, negative alterations in cognitions, persistent avoiding of situations and things that remind the person of the traumatic event. To be considered for a diagnosis of PTSD the symptoms should last for more than a month, should not be physiological reactions to the use of a any substance and it should cause significant distress and impairment to the person’s functioning in social, occupational and other contexts.

How can Post Traumatic Stress Disorder be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • Monitoring symptoms to see whether they improve or get worse without treatment.
  • Psychotherapy such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
  • Antidepressants

Schizophrenia

What is Schizophrenia?

The Signs to look for
Schizophrenia is a long-term condition that affects the way a person thinks, behaves and feels. Some of the common signs associated with this condition include hallucinations, delusions, confused thoughts and changes in behavior. Hearing voices is a common hallucination experienced in schizophrenia. The voices may describe the activity the person is engaged in, describe the person’s thoughts and feelings or talk directly to the person. Delusions are beliefs that are untrue but for the person experiencing them they hold on to these beliefs with complete conviction. For example, a person who hears voices describe their activities may have a delusion that someone is monitoring their movements. People experiencing psychosis may experience difficulties organizing their thoughts and conversations. There behaviors become unpredictable and they present, dress in ways that seem unusual to people.

What are the symptoms?

The common symptoms of Schizophrenia are classified in two categories, positive symptoms which include delusions, hallucinations, distorted thoughts, inability to look after oneself and negative symptoms which include social withdrawal, reduced expression of interest that is described as a flat affect. These symptoms cause disruption of daily activities which effects home, work and other areas of the person’s life. The signs of disturbance should persist for at least 6 months and include at least one month of active symptoms. The symptoms are not attributable to physiological reactions to consuming a substance or another medical condition.

How can Schizophrenia be treated?

Treatment and Therapy

People with schizophrenia are commonly treated with a combination of medication and therapy.

  • Anti psychotic drugs are commonly prescribed
  • Psychological therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)

Substance Use Disorder

What is Substance Use Disorder?

The Signs to look for
The term Substance Use Disorders has been coined in DSM V, to denote a wide range of behaviours related to the use of a substance in a mild form to severe state of chronic relapsing, compulsive drug taking. These substances include alcohol, cannabis, inhalants, sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics, hallucinogens, stimulants, tobacco and other substances. Drugs when taken in excess have a direct activation of the brain reward system, which reinforces behaviors, and production of memories. They produce such an intense activation of the brain reward system that daily activities may be neglected.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
Use of one or more substance causes significant distress or impairment to the individuals functioning occurring within a 12-month period of usage. It is manifested by at least two of the following conditions, such as intake of large amounts of the substance over a longer period of time, unsuccessful attempts to reduce the intake of the substance, great deal of time spent in doing activities related to the substance such a procuring it, using it recovering from its effects, failure to fulfill obligations at work, personal life, cravings, causing the person engage in physically hazardous activities. There is also a marked increase in consumption to achieve intoxication or the desired effect, and a diminished effect for the same amount of substance.

How can Substance Use Disorder be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • Counseling, self-help groups and talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Detoxification

Somatic Symptom Disorder

What is Somatic Symptom Disorder?

The Signs to look for
Somatic Symptom Disorders are characterised by the presence of somatic symptoms that cause significant distress and disruption of daily functioning. The person experiencing these symptoms get preoccupied with thoughts beliefs and behaviours related with the symptoms. People with Somatic Symptom Disorder, may treat common aches and pains and other symptoms associated with daily living as indications of a serious illness such as a headache might mean a brain tumour. Such people often like to spend times researching diseases on the Internet, and constantly seek reassurance from others. Somatic symptom disorder causes acute anxiety, and interferes with work, school, social life and relationships. Persistent thoughts about the seriousness of one’s presentation, high levels of anxiety about the symptoms, excessive time and energy devoted to thinking about the symptom, preoccupation with having or acquiring a illness, excessive health related behaviours, are some of the signs of this condition.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
To be diagnosed with Somatic Symptom Disorder the symptomatic state should be persistent for a period of 6 months. For a diagnosis of Somatic Symptom Disorder, the somatic symptoms must cause distress and impairment to daily functioning. The symptoms may or may not be associated with another Medical condition.

Somatic symptom disorders include the diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder, illness anxiety disorder, conversion disorder (functional neurological symptom disorder), psychological factors affecting other medical conditions, factitious disorder, other specified somatic symptom and related disorder, and unspecified somatic symptom and related disorder.

How can Somatic Symptom Disorder be treated?

Treatment and Therapy

Treatments are focused on controlling the symptoms and help reduce the impairment to daily functioning.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy can help treat Somatic Symptom Disorder by working with a therapist to manage both physical and emotional symptoms.
  • Antidepressant medications may be prescribed to help relieve symptoms of anxiety.

Tourette’s Disorder

What is Tourette’s Disorder?

The Signs to look for
Tourette Disorder is neurological condition consisting of tics, which are involuntary, and uncontrollable, sudden, rapid movements or sounds. Tics typically start with motor tics, in the region of the head and face and move to vocal tics. Tics can vary for the same person for example, they wax and wane in frequency, the tics can change, one stops and another starts. Tics can get worse when the person is stressed. This most commonly occurs during childhood.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
Symptoms can vary from simple tics to complex tics.
For example, simple motor tics such as blinking to complex tics such as jumping.
Simple vocal tics include clearing throat, to complex vocal tics such as echolalia. For a diagnosis of Tourette’s Disorder, multiple motors and at least one vocal tic should have persisted for more than one year, from the time the tics first appeared, though the frequency of the tics may differ.

How can Tourette’s Disorder be treated?

Treatment and Therapy
  • There is no permanent cure for Tourette’s Disorder. However, it can be managed with therapy such as behavioral therapy and medication.

Trichotillomania

What is Trichotillomania?

The Signs to look for
Trichotillomania is a condition of recurrent compulsive hair pulling which leads to hair loss and bald patches on the head. People with this condition can feel the urge to pull hair from other regions such as eyebrows, eyelashes, underarms, and genital areas. Some people with Trichotillomania also swallow or eat hair. Trichotillomania can cause negative feelings, such as guilt. They may also feel embarrassed about their condition and try to hide it. Sometimes Trichotillomania can make the person feel unattractive and can lead to low self-esteem.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and Diagnosis
The disorder typically presents with a buildup of tension before the hair plucking, followed by a sense of relief or pleasure after the plucking. The repeated hair plucking leaves noticeable loss of hair, which is not explained by any medical conditions, such as a skin problem. Also, the symptoms cause significant distress and impairment in various areas of the person’s functioning such as school, occupational life.

How can Trichotillomania be treated?

Treatment and Therapy

The most effective treatment is therapy to change the hair-pulling behaviour, combined with emotional support.

  • Psychotherapy, Family Therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). There is good evidence base for behavioural therapy aimed at changing ones behaviour such as reducing hair-pulling behaviour.
  • Medications are not typically prescribed but it can help with co morbid depressive symptoms

How can Anorexia Nervosa be treated?

Treatment & Therapy:

  • Psychological therapy such as Interpersonal therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), Focal psychodynamic therapy (FPT) and family intervention.
  • Supervised weight gain