Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that addresses the issues that results psychological disorders. Many medical practitioners and scientists across the world have conducted diagnosis and treatments based on the same. There are no exact definitions of abnormal behavior but there exist several variables that help to assess the value of abnormalities. Different cultures have diverse cultural practices, and if one is placed in a different culture. that person may view the practices associated with that culture as abnormal. It is dangerous if the behavior deviates from the social norms or if it results to impairment of the normal functioning.
Bipolar disorder is a condition associated with psychological changes that occur in the brain where it results in unusual changes of the mood, and the potential to function properly every day changes in energy and the daily activity. Notably, fluctuating moods are not uncommon in healthy people, whereas individuals suffering from bipolar disorder have severe mood deviations. These swings may subsequently affect the relationship of that person with others. It may also affect the performance at workplace and also it may limit the potential of the person at school. The diagnosis of bipolar disorder may not be easy and can be difficult to identify initially (McKay 74).
There exists a variety of symptoms associated with bipolar disorder which are also referred as mood episodes. They consist of emotional changes which cause people to change their behavior on a large scale which is central to their normal behaviors. According to Harvey (83), bipolar II disorder involves mood episodes characterized by depressive behavior and emotions which are mixed. Bipolar Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS), however, is manifested via short-term bipolar disorder signs; therefore, the symptoms are not the permanent behaviors of a person and cannot be used to diagnose bipolar disorder I or II.
Cyclothymic disorder is a type of bipolar disorder, and it is perceived as the mildest type of the disease. People suffering from cyclothymia have mildest depression and less mood swings. Bipolar disorder is impossible to diagnose by use of blood test or medical scan. The attempts to diagnose the disease also include a physical exam and an interview with a physician. A mental health expert is the appropriate resource for the people searching for medical conclusion on the symptoms they are facing. At time, the experts may consult the members of the family to gather the medical history of the patient and note the deviations in the pattern of the person’s behavior (Harvey 184).
Treatment of bipolar disorder focuses on reducing the manic and depressive episodes as well as minimizing the severity of the symptoms so as the individual could lead a normal and productive life. Evidently, the condition cannot be left untreated, as the symptoms can persist up to a whole year; however, under proper therapy, it can only last for about three to four months. Working closely with a physician ensures that the symptoms are not harsh; although the patient may still experience some mood swings, they are manageable. McKay states that lithium carbonate is the most popular drug and is used to treat episodes of both depression and mania that have persisted for a long time (234). Bipolar disorder may be caused by a variety of factors but the most perceived factor is genetics. The individual has a higher likelihood of developing the condition if they had a family member who has also been affected.
Schizophrenia is another disease in the field of abnormal psychology, and people suffering from this disorder are unable to voice their thoughts, ideas along with their perceptions of things (McKay 369). Such individuals cannot differentiate imagination from reality. There are debates and researches on progress to settle down the controversies on whether schizophrenia is a single condition or a combination of multiple disorders that have characteristics that are related to each another. People affected by schizophrenia may appear to be normal until they start sharing what is on their minds. These individuals depend on others to be provided with medical assistance because they are not able to take care of themselves or secure a job.
There is no cure for schizophrenia, but there are treatments that help to reduce some of the symptoms of the disease. People with the disorder have no option, but to withstand the manifestations for their entire life. There exist five types of schizophrenic disorders which include: feeling paranoid, undifferentiated, disorganized, catatonic, and residual (Harvey 270). The causes of the condition are not clear, and there exist a lot of theories that attempt to explain its origin. Some scientists suggest that the disorder is hereditary, while others posit that it is caused by the imbalance of the chemicals in the brain. There are other researchers who believe that schizophrenia occurs as a result of problems in the development of connections and tracks in the brain during pregnancy period.
McKay explains that the symptoms of schizophrenia have a wide range of variation, and they depend on the individual affected (75). These signs may be categorized into emotional, negative, cognitive, and positive. Positive symptoms occur in the brain and involve delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are where the patient develops false beliefs that can take a variety of forms such as feeling that they are persecuted. The individual may develop a belief that other people are controlling them silently or that they possess bigger powers and potentials. Hallucinations are instances, where the patient hears voices; they may also see, taste, and feel things that are not there. Negative symptoms are the elements that are removed from the affected person which include lack of motivation along with absence of facial expressions. Cognitive signs influence the processes of thinking in the brain of a person which may be either positive or negative symptoms.
Psychiatrists suggest that schizophrenia patients should have an effective treatment that combines medication, psychological counseling, and self-help resources. Medication is the most essential element for the therapy; however, continuously following the set regime proves to be a challenge to many (Harvey 148). Patients are supposed to proceed with medicating even if the symptoms seem to fade away, since failure to take the full dosage may worsen their condition. Diagnosis of schizophrenia is done after having a close examination of the behaviors of the patient. The physician needs to have full information about the person’s medical and psychiatric history if he or she suspects the possibility of schizophrenia development.
It becomes difficult to tell whether someone is suffering from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, since there are some symptoms which are displayed in both cases. The manic episode of the bipolar disorder manifests in such a way that the patient has a lot of energy and talk and moves too fast. Schizophrenia also contains a symptom where the patient talks rapidly but the kind of speech that he or she delivers makes little to no sense. There may be lack of connection between sentences and cohesion between the paragraphs (McKay 30).
Field of abnormal psychology has tremendous impact on the families of the affected patients and the society as a whole. The relatives may face a myriad of difficulties before they adapt to living with the individuals suffering from psychological disorders. It is complicated to handle these emotions, especially if one has not had similar encounters before. The families of such patients are likely to experience great sorrows and grief witnessing their loved ones display severe symptoms and changes in behavior. Notwithstanding, some mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder may not prevent a person from achieving success and leading a happy and accomplished life, but what it does is give the patients and their families a task to work on (Harvey 67).
Families develop concerns about the affected relative as the manic episode may make the patient to behave in a hostile of risky manner. The family of the affected patient should come up with a plan on how they can reduce the worries and the appropriate methods to employ to handle the patient when their symptoms reach a peak. These measures should be taken even in case the person is appearing to be well or when the symptoms are not severe and deduce appropriate techniques to handle the patient when he or she is at extreme end. Children may be faced with some worries that they may acquire the illness. The young siblings may be worried that they must learn how to handle the patient when their parents are not in a position to do that.
Harvey states that researches related to cognitive behavioral processes in psychological disorders are concentrating on disorder focus in the recent times where they follow a particular condition (1). Many studies make efforts towards obtaining maximum information about the disorder in question which entails understanding the etiology as well as its maintenance. The aim of these measures is to establish an effective method of providing treatment to the patient. This strategy has to a great extent improved common understanding as well as potential when it comes to treating a variety of psychological disorders.
Harvey, Allison G. Cognitive Behavioral Processes across Psychological Disorders: A Transdiagnostic Approach to Research and Treatment. Oxford University Press, 2004.
McKay, Dean, et al. Treatments for Psychological Problems and Syndromes. Wiley Blackwell, 2017.