Psychological Disorders

Introduction

Once a psychological disorder occurs, it causes behaviors or symptoms which affect life and also cause distress to the person experiencing the disorder. The causes of psychological disorders can not be definitive and could be due to environmental, biological or psychological causes. Biologically it can be due to genetic compositions or effects, infections of the brain, or drugs and substance abuse. Drugs and other substances can cause anxiety, depression, and paranoia.

Biologically, there is a link of mental illnesses to a balance of neurotransmitters which are special chemicals in the brain that help in communication. When this communication is not complete, there occur signs of illness. Psychological causes of disorders can be experienced when an individual goes through trauma or abuse such as sexual harassment, neglect, social misfit, battering, and loss of someone close among others. Environmental factors involved in this disorder include divorce, poverty, low esteem, unemployment, and social and cultural expectations (Kessler, 1997).

There are many types of psychological disorders they include; depression, acute stress disorder, agoraphobia, anorexia nervosa, dementia, drug addiction, insomnia, mood disorders, schizophrenia, sexual addiction, social anxiety disorder just to name but a few.

This paper describes psychological disorders as they occur presently. The main disorder described here is dementia which has a high prevalence rate as people grow old. The causes, signs and symptoms, treatment, and side effects are described. The prevalence rate in the US is also described and a discussion of how the disorder affects the family of the person who has it is also provided. Finally, what the society can do to help these people and ways to prevent the disorder are looked into.

Dementia

Dementia is a psychological disorder characterized by loss of brain function and commonly occurs together with other diseases e.g. Alzheimer and stroke. The disease mainly affects the patient’s memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. Such people may not be able to coordinate several normal activities e.g. dressing and eating; they have illusions and have a change of personality. The disease that commonly leads to dementia is Alzheimer’s. Dementia has three stages; the mild, moderate and severe stage. In this paper the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, signs and symptoms, and current treatments are described.

Causes

Dementia may be categorized into many types depending on the cause. Most of these types are nonreversible or degenerative. This means that the steps or process that the brain has undergone cannot be redone, stopped, or turned back, hence the fact that it worsens with time. As stated earlier, the most common ailment that causes dementia is Alzheimer although in elderly adults lewy body disease is the main cause of dementia. Other medical conditions that cause dementia are Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, pick’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy. This disease can also be caused by those diseases that affect the brain. Actually, the disease leads to abnormal protein structures in some areas of the brain of the patient (Shub, & Kunik, 2009).

For dementia, the patients have to race against time in identifying the disorder since it is very easy to reverse it once it is found at earlier stages. Reversible causes of dementia include; brain tumors, diabetes, low vitamin levels, high blood pressure, allergies, alcoholism, and the metabolic causes of dementia. As one grow older the risk of having the disorder increases, while it is rare in those under the age of 60 (Teng, Hasegawa and Homma, 1994).

The causes may be generalized into fixed cognitive impairment which include brain injuries e.g. traumatic brain injuries, diffuse axonal injuries, hypoxic-ischemic injury, meningitis, hydrocephalus and korsakoff’s psychosis, slowly progressive dementia; where the disease worsens progressively over years, and rapidly progressive dementia; which worsens in weeks or months and is caused by creutzfeldt-jakob disease, encephalopathy, delirium, viral encephalitis, sub acute sclerosing panencephalitis, Whipple's disease, limbic encephalitis, Hashimoto's encephalopathy, and cerebral vasculitis (Shub & Kunik, 2009).

Sign and symptoms

In dementia, the disorder does not show linear progression of symptoms since some come earlier while others come late depending on the patient health and strength. In addition, some stages overlap and there is no actual time given for a symptom to occur. Dementia can be detected through the continuous impoverishment of mind and mental activities that affect the mental life of the person. The most common signs include frequent and progressive memory loss. Persons with dementia forget things more often; they forget events, duties, occasions, and people. They can only be made to remember when one uses familiar faces, smells, touches, songs or objects.

Persons infected often experience language difficulties given that they are more or less unable to understand instructions or complete logical complex sentences (Teng, Hasegawa and Homma, 1994). They don’t understand their own sentences and find it difficult to form words. They also find it hard to remember correct words and they forget simple words and have the behavior of substituting unusual words, and making incomplete speeches and sentences.

Confusion is also evident - this is where the persons are estranged and become unpredictable in the actions they do. This can be acute which means it is sudden and limited in time. It leads to disorientation of the person in what he does and where he goes and never works in schedule or correct time because he/she is unable to recall time or place.

Inability to perform familiar tasks: - persons find it difficult to complete daily tasks that they had been used to performing. They lack proper sequence in the task and duties they undertake e.g. problems in wearing of clothes (Shub, & Kunik, 2009). Difficulty with abstract thinking; planning duties, making decisions, or organizing any tasks is very hard for these People not forgetting that they have low ability in performing simple monetary transactions.

Misplacing belongings: - placing things at the incorrect place is the routine of these persons. They place objects at unusually odd places where they do not belong. The can leave cooking pans in the wardrobe, the remote control in the fridge and other odd things (Dougall, Bruggink & Ebmeier, 2004).

Rapid mood swings: - these persons are characterized by their extreme moody behaviors; they switch between emotions within short intervals of time with no given or warranted reason. Other persons may display opposite emotions hence display less emotions or become less emotional than they used to be (Teng, Hasegawa and Homma, 1994).

Behavioral changes: - usually, these people change in unusual ways that are unexplainable. They may be suspicious, apathetic, anxious, irritable, depressed, or agitated, especially when there is a problem in remembering anything.

Apathy/ lack of initiative: - this is when a person shows signs of passiveness, don’t-care attitude, loneliness, and spends time doing nothing or just sitting idly. The person may even loose interest in what he considered enjoyable and good.

Stages of dementia

There are three stages of dementia, which include mild or early stage, moderate or middle stage, and severe or late stage. Before these stages develop in the patient, there is a stage known as the mild cognitive impairment which is the stage between loss of memory and the development and diagnosis of dementia. The signs of this stage are; forgetting, difficult in multi tasking and solving problems and longer stabilizing periods.

The mild or early stage is characterized by forgetfulness, repetition in speech, low understanding of oneself, difficulty of paying bills using currency, blaming others, having no interest in hobbies, difficulty in adapting to change, and irrationality (Shub & Kunik, 2009).

The moderate or mid stage is characterized by increased forgetfulness, repetition of phrases, confusion of time and place, forgetting of people, neglect of personal hygiene, hallucinations, angriness and high mood swings. The severe or late stage is characterized by total dependence of medical personnel and people around them. They don’t remember anything, don’t speak or understand what is said, do not recognize anyone, are restless, are physically weaklings, hallucinate a lot, move uncontrollably, find it difficult to swallow and they become depressed and aggressive (Teng, Hasegawa and Homma, 1994).

Diagnosis

Dementia is diagnosed through a history and physical examination of the patient showing the symptoms. The purpose of diagnosis is to eliminate chances of treating the wrong disorder. A physician may be treating dementia due to memory loss symptoms but they may be due to depression. The best method to diagnose and treat dementia is through an interdisciplinary team rather than one physician (Dougall, Bruggink & Ebmeier, 2004), i.e. physicians from other fields of medicine. Diagnosis has several components that include the medical history, medication history, extensive physician examinations, laboratory tests, neurological exam, and neuropsychological test.

Treatment and side effects

This begins with the treatment of the underlying diseases, for instance, treating cause of nutritional deficiency, hormonal, tumors and drugs caused dementia. The main aim in treating dementia is to slow down the continued damage on the brain and reduce behavioral symptoms. Treatment can be done through psychotherapy, environmental modification and medication.

Psychotherapy is the use of behavioral approach. This reduces undesirable behaviors e.g. aggression (Dougall, Bruggink & Ebmeier, 2004). It involves identification of the behavior and using a mechanism to change the behavior. Environmental modification makes the patient more safe and comfortable due to reduced agitation. The same environment can be modified to make it safer and more habitable for the patient.

Medication can be given to reduce dementia symptoms (Dougall, Bruggink & Ebmeier, 2004). The drugs are responsible for improving brain functions. Some of these drugs include acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors which allow brains cells to start communication through neurotransmitters. Psychotropic drugs are used for supportive therapy while treating behavioral problems. Antipsychotic medicines can be effective in reducing hallucinations and delusions. Anti-anxiety and antidepressants can be used to treat anxiety and depression signs respectively (Teng, Hasegawa, Homma, 1994).

Side effects of the medications can be minimized by administering them cautiously to patients. They should be given in the lowest possible effective doses while supervising them closely. Dementia can also be treated through other means such as physical therapy, or herbal medicines. Those infected and not able to move can be supplied with walkers so that they can move about. Occupational therapy, music, and art can be used to calm the moods (Shub & Kunik, 2009). Herbal medicines, vitamin additives and dietary supplements can be used to reduce the effects of dementia.

Prevalence of dementia in US

According to Plassman, Langa, Fisher, Heeringa, Weir, Ofstedal, Burke, Hurd, Potter, Rodgers, Steffens, Willis, & Wallace (2007) in their paper “Prevalence of Dementia in the United States: The Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study,” they state that “prevalence of dementia among individuals aged 71 and older was 13.9%, comprising about 3.4 million individuals in the USA in 2002. The corresponding values for AD were 9.7% and 2.4 million individuals. Dementia prevalence increased with age, from 5.0% of those aged 71-79 years to 37.4% of those aged 90 and older”.

Discussion

Dementia patients can be mistaken for being mad. They eventually become mentally incapacitated if the disorder is not treated in time. The treatment should focus on treating the causes and not the signs so as to have minimal side effects. Treatments such as natural therapy are essential so as to evade the intensive side effects such as blur vision, or lack of sleep, both of which can have other negative effects in their lives (Dougall, Bruggink & Ebmeier, 2004). Better diagnosis of this disorder should also be enhanced so as to treat the disorder at early stages before it develops to chronic level.  Society can help by being involved in the general knowledge of the disorder. Once affected, there is a need to seek medical attention. Moreover, people should also be trained on the aspects of living with people with dementia. The know-how of handling such individuals would aid faster recovery from the illness and faster absorption in the society (Shub, & Kunik, 2009).

The best way to prevent the disorder is by enhancing the personality of an individual. This will equip individuals with the best shock against any occurrence. The family of the patient may be discouraged by the dementia and many may even see it as family related (genetic). The family should take precautionary steps so as to establish the real cause and ensure that the necessary treatment is administered. In case there is occurrence of a tragedy in the family the strong should keep watch that any symptoms detected on others are quickly treated to avoid chronic illness.

Conclusion

The effects of psychological disorders are real and rampant in the current society. The major challenge is to eliminate these disorders. There are currently approximately 250 disorders involved, and therefore, learning to stay with them can be a huge challenge. The only hope is to increase research so that many disorders can be eliminated and thus maintain a healthy and wealthy nation. Huge finances are being spent on the treatment of such disorders but there is still hope that the same can be eliminated. The current lifestyles have contributed to the development of many of these disorders hence a change of lifestyle should be critical in their elimination. Protection is better than cure hence it is best to keep one safe from these and other disorders.

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