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Mental Disorders Overview

Mental Disorders Overview

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This lesson will discuss major classifications of mental disorders, focusing on DSM-IV Axes 1 and 2.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

This lesson is going to cover the classification of mental disorders by looking at:

  1. DSM IV
  2. Axis I
  3. Axis II
  4. Axis III, IV, and V

1. DSM IV

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, or DSM IV, is a manual that's released by the American Psychological Association, or APA, as a way of outlining exactly what is a mental disorder. It also tells how it should be classified and treated for psychologists, counselors, and mental health professionals.

It was first developed around in 1952 as the DSM I. It has been periodically revised so that we are now on the fourth edition. This last revision occurred in  2000 as the DSM IV TR (text revision). 

The DSM is a non theoretical way of classifying and identifying mental disorders. It is mostly clinically based, but it is informed by different research within psychology as well. The DSM IV  tells what the symptoms are for a mental disorder are and what the requirements for each one of those.

ExampleIt might list seven different symptoms of a mental disorder, and if a person shows five out of seven of those symptoms, then that person is classified as having that mental disorder.

Did You Know

While reviewing this information, keep in mind that this course is just as overview. As you read about disorders it can be very tempting to diagnose yourself or others, but avoid doing that. If you are concerned that you have a mental health problem, please seek a mental health professional's advice.

The DSM IV has around 250 different mental disorders organized in the book along five different axes. These axes each contain a different category of what's related to mental disorders.


2. Axis I

Axis I is clinical disorders and includes categories like psychotic disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, somatoform disorders, dissociative disorders, sexual or gender identity disorders, substance related disorders, etc.

One type of disorder included in here is adjustment disorder. This is when a person has trouble coping with ordinary stresses within their lives. Significant life events like job loss might result in things like depression, anxiety, or trouble sleeping. This is the basic beginning of a clinical disorder which is why it is listed here.

Term to Know

  • Adjustment Disorder
  • A mental disorder where a person has trouble coping with ordinary stress, or cannot adjust, which results in emotional/behavioral problems.

3. Axis II

Axis II contains personality disorders, mental retardation, and developmental disorders that result from different kinds of genetic or environmental factors.

Personality disorders are maladaptive, long lasting patterns of thinking. They do not necessarily develop in a short period of time, but they occur for a significant amount of time over a person's life.

Term to Know

  • Personality Disorders
  • Maladaptive, long-lasting patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Paranoid personality disorder is when a person is extremely distrustful and has feelings of being lied to. They are very secretive people, in an extreme sense, so it affects their day to day life.

Antisocial personality disorder is when a person acts very cruelly or impulsively towards other people. They don't have any kind of regret or feelings of empathy. This is very similar to psychopathy or sociopathy, but they're a little bit different.

Narcissistic personality disorder is also listed under here, and occurs when a person has extreme feelings of self centeredness and they think their ideas are the absolute best. Thinking of others is an extension of the person's self. In other words, in their minds, everybody is basically trying to serve that one person.

Term to Know

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • A personality disorder marked by long-term feelings of self-centeredness, thinking ideas are best, and thinking of others as an extension of self.

4. Axis III, IV, and V

Axis III is general medical conditions or physical conditions that might result in a mental disorder in Axis I or II.

ExampleA brain injury might cause a person to develop a clinical disorder.

Axis IV talks about the environmental or psychosocial problems that might either cause a mental disorder to develop or worsen; this can include things like unemployment or divorce which might cause a person’s problems to exacerbate. This also includes limited social support as well because social support is an important factor in a person's development of a mental disorder, and whether they have assistance from other people.

ExampleIf a person is depressed, they might become extremely depressed because they lost their job.

Axis V is the section that tells how to test and rate different psychological and social functioning within a person. It helps to determine whether a person has a mental disorder.


Summary

Today's lesson has been a brief overview of mental disorders. The DSM IV is the manual for telling what a mental disorder is, how it should be classified, and how to treat it. It contains around 250 mental disorders, and is organized along five axes. 

Axis I is clinical disorders, and contains most mental disorders you would think of besides personality disorders and mental retardation. An example would be adjustment disorders. 

Axis II contains personality disorders, mental retardation, and developmental disorder that result for genetic or environmental factors. Personality disorders are maladaptive and long term. Axis III is medical conditions that can lead to a mental disorder, Axis IV is environmental factors, and Axis V outlines how to test and treat for a mental disorder.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Erick Taggart.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Adjustment Disorder

    A mental disorder where a person has trouble coping with ordinary stress, or cannot adjust, which results in emotional/behavioral problems.

  • Personality Disorders

    Maladaptive, long-lasting patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder

    A personality disorder marked by long-term feelings of self-centeredness, thinking ideas are best, and thinking of others as an extension of self.