Disorders: Severity, Symptoms and Treatment


Several disorders constitute the subject of abnormal psychology. They include obsessive-compulsive disorder, Bipolar disorder, and Major depressive disorder among others. This paper reviews the three disorders in terms of their onset, Severity, Symptoms, Length of disability, Treatment methods, Success of treatment and Impact on society.

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) arises because of anxiety characterized by thoughts and obsessions, which seem unreasonable leading to compulsions. The disorder onsets when one “…realizes that his/her obsessions aren’t reasonable, and he/she may try to ignore them or stop them. However, that only increases his/her distress and anxiety…Ultimately, he/she feels driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease his/her stressful feelings” (Mayo Clinic Staff Para. 1).

OCD can get severe and consumes lots of your time that it turns out disabling. Although the victim may manage to do extra few things, he or she spends majority of time satisfying compulsions or obsessions for example washing hands in fear of catching a certain disease. However, OCD can at sometimes be confused with art of perfection. Symptoms include contamination, fear based on touching objects perceived as dirty, shaking hands, stress when things seem disorderly, replaying images in one’s mind once those events have passed, doubting passed executed actions such as locking one’s door, damaged skin due to excessive washing or even avoiding situations that may lead to thinking about the things you like done perfectly.

The disorder is a lifelong disability. Treatment options are psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which involves restraining the victims thought patterns to deter compulsive behaviors works satisfactorily as a psychotherapy intervention. One can control obsessions by prescription of Clomipramine, Lucox, Prozac, Paroxetine and Zoloft. However, this does not rule out other psychiatrist prescription of other medication available in the market. OCD is treatment is difficult and more often than not does not result to cure and the patient requires treatment for the rest of his or her life.

Bipolar disorder onsets when swings of moods from depression on one extreme to mania on the other higher extreme are experienced. When the patient is depressed, he/ she feel hopeless or sad, and losses interest in virtually almost everything. When shift of moods occur, “normally few times in a year or as often as several times a day, the patient feels euphoric and full of energy” (Mayo Clinic Staff Para. 5).

Bipolar disorder is a long-term disruptive condition treatable by psychological counseling and administration of medication or Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Medications that prove worth prescribing include the use of Anticonvulsants, Lithium, Antipsychotics, Antidepressants, Benzodiazepines or Symbyax. Psychological counseling interventions include Education, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Group therapy and Family therapy. The disorder responds well to treatment though it requires lifelong medication no matter whether the patient feels better.

The onset of the Major depressive disorder remains marked by the patient inability to accomplish his or her daily chores and worst of all, inculcating a feeling of worthlessness in living. The symptoms include: loss of energy or conditions of fatigue, feeling worthless, insomnia, recurring suicidal contemplations, attempted suicide and dwindled interest on almost everything in life, being tearful, frustrations, feeling sad, exaggerated loss of weight while not dieting and noticeable restlessness. “Almost all patients diagnosed with the disorder respond well to “….medication, psychological counseling or other treatment” (Mayo Clinic Staff Para.2).

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Medication includes use of prescription of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Lexapro..Although depression is a severe mental illness, it is curable and the patient leads normal life although continuous psychiatric check pus is necessary throughout the life of the patient. All the mentioned mental illness have impacts to the society I that it needs to change the way it relates with patients so as to keep off that factors that may retrigger their conditions. In one way or another society needs to offer psychological therapy treatment not disregarding the financial responsibility posed.


Schizophrenia comes in as a severe mental illness that causes people to have abnormal interpretation of reality. It results in “some combination of hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking and behavior” (Mayo Clinic Staff Para. 4). The disorder with time hinders people capacity to act normally and leads to deterioration of their ability to take care for themselves. The causes of the disorder have attracted much debate with many theorizations of the actual cause. It is particularly hard to explain its cause due to lack of a homogeneous definition and symptoms among many scholars. All the theories however point at Schizophrenia to be a mental disorder.

One of the propositions is that Schizophrenia is caused by predisposition of genes in combination with psychological and environmental stressors. Most likely, some predisposition of genes occurs at some given magnitude with the environmental and psychological stressors playing a paramount role but since no substantial knowledge of how these takes place, the proposition though being the current position held by scholars is not satisfactory.

Developmental theory is one of the theories affiliated to this line of thought. Rather than addressing the causes of the disorder, it ignores them and concentrates on conducting path-physiology analysis process of the disease; the presumption being that the disorder has already begun. “The Developmental Theory is based on the assertion that complications during the period of brain development might increase the risk of schizophrenia” (Mayo Clinic Staff Para. 6). According to this theory, alcohol, medications, chemicals, genes, malnutrition, and exposure to stressful conditions, infectious agents and radiations, bring about complications. All these causes of complications remain jointly termed as teratogenic agents. The embryo is usually at the highest risk of death, at the mental retardation and or cell damage.

Another theory proposes that the disorder is hereditary. Some families thus are more prone to be diagnosed with the ailment than others are. Apart from schizophrenia gene, the theory argues that some other certain genes are responsible for the preference observed among member with the same bloodline. Sufficient evidence exists to show that individuals whose parents remain diagnosed with the disorder prove likely to suffer from it. Unfortunately, the theory is not conclusive since majority of the people who test positive have absolutely no family history of Schizophrenia.

Genetic theory and its corollaries, raises more questions than hopes for getting enlightened on the actual cause of the disorder. Argument ensues on the capacity of genes to play proactive roles in causing the disorder just as they do in situations of cancer or in which other exact combination with other factors like environmental and psychological factors will the genes result to development or onset of the disorder. Other theories like family experiences and personalities are treated with utmost suspicion. Precisely no particular theory as per to date findings is on its own wholly explanative on the causes of the disorder. In fact, this subject attracts many writers in attempt to unveil the misery.

Ethical issues being much of a province of morality evolve within a society and have no force of law to uphold them. The fear that compels people to obey and respect rules perceived right by members of a given society arises due to the fear to disobey societal ethics. In defining what is right and wrong act within a given society, special provision remains provided for in case of mentally unsound persons. Unfortunately unlike in the application of force law, application of forces of morality and societal ethics amounts to some degree of stigmatization of people with mental health problems. They remain dismissed as mad/ insane persons.

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People with mental ailments receive special provisions by statute both in the application of law of torts and contract. For instance, they have limited capacity to contract because of their mental condition that hinders them to make legally binding relationships. The law demand that mentally challenged persons should be in their right state of mind while arriving at the essential elements that constitute valid contracts. Any contract made by persons with unsound mind is more often than not voidable or explicitly void and hence invalid.

On the other hand, the laws of torts whether tort of nuisance or any other tort, as statutes might provide require a proof of both act and intent to act unless in some special treatments such as strict liability or any other special case provided by the law. The accused must prove that, in his or her reasonable contemplation of his or her action was aware that his or her action would cause harm or some detriment to his/her neighbor. In case of torts committed by people with medical records of psychological disorders, a proof is required beyond any reasonable doubt that he/ she intentioned and committed the actual claimed tort and that the accused was in a mental state deemed right by the court to allow him/her to be cognitive of his/ her intents and actions.

If I was a jury, to ensure fairness while passing judgment, in the process of trial I would investigate and have adequate proof whether the accused wrong doer has a medical record of mental ailments that interferes with his or her capacity to make sound decisions concerning the alleged acts that amount to civil or criminal wrongs. The next thing would be to seek to know whether at the time of committing the offence, the mind of the accused was sound. If the answer to this investigation were either yes or no, appropriate law would then take charge, as it ought to be to either acquit or hold the accused responsible (guilty) of his or her action. Evidently, ‘legal insanity’ is and should be a legal defense for fair ruling.

Works Cited

Mayo Clinic Staff. Depression (Depression major), 2010. Web.

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