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Categories of Disorders

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Categories of Disorders

Think about a time you felt like everything was going right for you, and you were incredibly happy. Now think about a time you were struggling, everything seemed to be going wrong, and you were incredibly sad or depressed. It's normal for our moods to change depending on the circumstances in our lives. How do we know if what we are experiencing is normal or if we could use some help dealing with it?

  • What are mental illnesses or psychological disorders?
  • Who defines normal and abnormal in mental disorders?
  • How are the symptoms of each mental disorder determined?
  • What role does genetics play in mental disorders?
  • What are the 11 categories of mental disorders?

Mental Illness or Psychological Disorders

A mental disorder (or psychological disorder) is a diagnosable condition with a specific set of symptoms that cause significant problems or distress in one of the following areas: thoughts, feelings, or behavior. Those problems also have to impact either a biological, psychological, or developmental part of life.

All mental disorders fit within a biopsychosocial framework of symptoms. They impact physical health (biology), mental health (psychology), and relational health (social). Even though each disorder has its unique symptoms, all the disorders can include biological, psychological, and social symptoms or consequences.

Depression symptoms cover things like mood, motivation, weight fluctuations, sleep issues, motor movements, fatigue, specific feelings and thoughts, mental states like concentration or decision-making, and resulting distress in any important part of life.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) authored by the American Psychological Association is the guiding book for psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health professionals. The shorthand is DSM-5, and this book contains lists of symptoms, potential causes, and other data for every psychological disorder. Doctors typically use a book called the International Classification of Diseases (11th edition) to diagnose someone, but mental health professionals developed the DSM-5 as their official guide to mental disorders.

It took 12 years for the DSM-5 to make it through editing and revising. The first edition was published in 1952. It took the combined efforts of more than 13 teams of professionals to write the DSM-5. The teams even released parts of the DSM-5 early for public feedback! In 2022, the DSM-5 got an update when a revised version was released.

Mental Disorders and Abnormal Psychology

Who gets to decide what kind of symptoms are considered normal or abnormal? Well, it’s way more complicated than you might think. Most of the time, psychology research is about normal human behaviors and mental processes. We want to better understand ourselves and how we relate to the world!

Categories of Disorders, a laptop displaying the words "what is normal?" on the screen, StudySmarterAbnormal psychology, pixabay.com

Abnormal psychology is the study of what happens when something goes wrong with human behavior and mental processes. In a general sense, abnormal behavior usually just means a mental disorder. Each culture (and every single person) has its way of defining what is considered abnormal or normal. From a scientific perspective, abnormal behavior is rare. Most problems fall under the normal category, and only certain more severe problems fall under the abnormal or mental disorder category.

Related to abnormal behavior is the concept of insanity or being insane. This is a legal term used in court. Someone who is insane is unable to tell if what they do is right or wrong. In statistical terms, insanity is even rarer than abnormal behavior. Insanity pleas are hardly used in court at all, and they are very hard to prove.

Symptoms of Mental Disorders

How do psychologists figure out what problems are mental disorders and what the symptoms are for each disorder? Well, the whole point of defining mental disorders and their symptoms is so that mental health professionals can communicate with each other and bill insurance. The goal is not to label people or stigmatize them. It is helpful to have a guide to mental disorders for professionals that work in abnormal psychology professions.

So, large groups of mental health professionals formed committees to determine what should be considered a mental disorder and what symptoms should go with each disorder. They based their decisions on research, clinical judgment, client reports, and statistical data. They pulled together all of the information they could on mental disorders to inform what eventually made it into the DSM-5. There are still more changes to come in the future!

Categories of Disorders, the hands of a clinician in blue gloves holding an electronic tablet and taking notes on it, StudySmarterDiagnosing, pixabay.com

Part of how the DSM-5 writers define mental disorder symptoms is that they have to be very unusual in a cultural or personally dysfunctional way. Holding odd or extremely rare social beliefs doesn’t automatically mean someone has a mental disorder. Every person is unique, so most behaviors can be explained through normal human variation.

For most mental disorders, a person only has to experience some of the symptoms listed to receive a diagnosis. Even within a specific mental disorder, people experience it differently! Not everyone will have all the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder, for example. This helps make the lists of symptoms less strict and more adaptable to unique human beings.

Ted and Lucy are former military officers diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Ted developed PTSD after witnessing the death of a close friend. Lucy developed PTSD after repeatedly encountering inhumane acts by another country’s military.

Ted’s symptoms mainly happen at night: dreams, intense distress, avoiding going to sleep, believing he will never be able to sleep through the night ever again, and feeling like no one understands what he goes through each night. Lucy’s symptoms are mostly during the daytime: unwanted memories, flashbacks to specific scenes, avoiding anything that reminds her of what she saw, believing that she is somehow to blame for the things she saw, and constantly feeling angry or irritable.

What Ted and Lucy have in common is that their symptoms started over a month ago, both are struggling to get through their daily tasks, and neither are taking any drugs or medications that could cause their symptoms.

Genetics and Mental Disorders

Several mental disorders are linked to a genetic factor. Sometimes genetics play a huge role in the risk for a disorder, and sometimes they only play a small part in whether you have a mental disorder. Some disorders with a particularly strong genetic component are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Even the genetic connections in these disorders, though, don’t mean that you will develop the disorder. Just because your parents or grandparents had a mental disorder, you still may not ever experience that disorder. Genetics is only one piece of the whole puzzle when it comes to what causes a mental disorder.

Usually, the causes of a disorder are biopsychosocial. Genetics are included under biological, but they are only one of the factors in play. Other causes include hormones, physical health, brain damage, trauma, stress, role models, societal expectations, and cultural influences.

Categories of Disorders, an unfinished jigsaw puzzle of an image of blue DNA strands, StudySmarterGenetics puzzle, pixabay.com

Categories of Mental Disorders

You can probably name several mental disorders off the top of your head: depression, anxiety, bipolar, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, etc. Did you know there are over 13 major categories of mental disorders? Most of the disorders you likely have never heard of before! Here are 13 categories of mental disorders from the DSM-5:

  1. Neurodevelopmental Disorders

  2. Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders

  3. Bipolar and Related Disorders

  4. Depressive Disorders

  5. Anxiety Disorders

  6. Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders

  7. Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders

  8. Dissociative Disorders

  9. Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders

  10. Feeding and Eating Disorders

  11. Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders

  12. Neurocognitive Disorders

  13. Personality Disorders

The order of the categories is intentional. The DSM-5 uses a developmental approach to sort these categories. The first few listed usually develop early in life and have a strong genetic component. As you go down the list, the ones toward the end usually develop later in life, like in adulthood. These are only some of the categories in the DSM-5, and each category has several disorders within it.

What about mood disorders?

Depression and bipolar disorders use to be categorized as mood disorders. Now, they each have their category. The term mood disorders can refer to depression, bipolar, or anxiety disorders because the main symptoms are about a person’s general mood. The important thing to remember is that the DSM-5 will one day be replaced by the DSM-6. Some disorders and symptoms may look very different or not be included at all in future editions. As more research is conducted, professionals change the diagnostic guide to reflect the best scientific information we have available.

Categories of Disorders - Key Takeaways

  • A mental disorder (or psychological disorder) is a diagnosable condition with a specific set of symptoms that cause significant problems or distress in one of the following areas: thoughts, feelings, or behavior.
  • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) authored by the American Psychological Association is the guiding book for psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health professionals.
  • Abnormal psychology is the study of what happens when something goes wrong with human behavior and mental processes.
  • The DSM-5 helps mental health professionals communicate with each other and bill insurance, and the contents are based on research, clinical judgment, client reports, and statistical data.
  • Some disorders with a particularly strong genetic component are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Frequently Asked Questions about Categories of Disorders

A personality disorder is a mental health disorder that seriously impacts a person's typical manner of thinking, behaving, and feeling; one example is Borderline Personality Disorder.

A mood disorder is a mental health disorder that causes a persistent, intense mood disturbance; one example is major depressive disorder.

The 11 types of mental disorders are anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, trauma and stressor-related disorders, somatic symptom and related disorders, dissociative disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar and related disorders, schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, personality disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, and organic/neurocognitive disorders.

Genetic disorders occur through inheriting specific genes and/or through epigenetic activation.

Personality disorders are caused by a combination of psychological, environmental, biological, and genetic factors. 

Final Categories of Disorders Quiz

Question

What therapy is most often used to help those diagnosed with ADHD?

Show answer

Answer

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy 

Show question

Question

There are three presentation types of ADHD.

1. Hyperactive-impulsive presentation type

2. _________________

3. Combined Presenation Type 

Show answer

Answer

2. Predominately inattentive presentation type

Show question

Question

What is not a speculated cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

Show answer

Answer

Genetics

Show question

Question

What are three symtpoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness?


Show answer

Answer

Overly talkative

Fidgeting or squirming

Inability to concentrate on tasks

Trouble taking turns with activities

Show question

Question

What are three symptoms of inattentiveness?

Show answer

Answer

Short attention span

Easily distracted

Constantly changing task or activity

Losing things or forgetful

Daydreaming a lot

Show question

Question

ADHD is considered a __________ disorder. 

Show answer

Answer

neurodevelopmental 

Show question

Question

True or False: Adults suffer from ADHD

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

​True or False: There is no one specific test for ADHD. Rather, there are tests that can be used to rule out the diagnoses. 


Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

What are two common medications that are used to help adults diagnosed with ADHD?


A. Methylphenidate and Guanfacine

B. Acetametaphine and Adderall 

C. Fluticasone and Pregabalin

Show answer

Answer

A. Methylphenidate and Guanfacine

Show question

Question

What are the two categories for which symptoms of ADHD fall under?

Show answer

Answer

Symptoms of Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness and Symptoms of Inattentiveness

Show question

Question

True or False: Medications for ADHD are cures to the diagnoses.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

Medications used for ADHD are either composed of __________ and non-stimulants

Show answer

Answer

Stimulants

Show question

Question

______ medications are most commonly used for ADHD symptoms.


A.Stimulant

B. Non-stimulant 

Show answer

Answer

A. Stimulant 

Show question

Question

_______ medications used for ADHD are fast-acting but are able to last up to 24 hours.


A.Stimulant

B. Non-Stimulant 


Show answer

Answer

B. Non-Stimulant 

Show question

Question

_____ and ____ tests are most often used to help rule out ADHD diagnoses. 


A. Reflex and Hearing

B. Vision and Hearing 

C. Vision and Spelling

Show answer

Answer

B. Vision and Hearing 

Show question

Question

When is an intellectual disability most often diagnosed?

Show answer

Answer

In early childhood.

Show question

Question

What are early signs or symptoms that a child may have an intellectual disability?

Show answer

Answer

Difficulty remembering

Late speech development

Problems understanding social rules or consequences of actions 

Show question

Question

What test(s) are used in order to help diagnose an intellectual disability?

Show answer

Answer

IQ tests are administered 

Show question

Question

What is the IQ level with "borderline" intellectual disability levels?

Show answer

Answer

IQ level 70-84

Show question

Question

What is the IQ level with "Mild" intellectual disability levels?

Show answer

Answer

IQ level 50-70

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Question

What is the IQ level with "moderate" intellectual disability levels?

Show answer

Answer

IQ level 35-50

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Question

What is the IQ level with "severe" intellectual disability levels?


Show answer

Answer

IQ level 20-35

Show question

Question

What is the IQ level with "profound" intellectual disability levels?


Show answer

Answer

IQ level below 20

Show question

Question

Are intellectual disabilities more prevalent in males or females?


Show answer

Answer

Males 

Show question

Question

ADHD is considered an intellectual disability. True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False. It is, however, often a comorbid diagnosis to an intellectual disability.

Show question

Question

Autism is considered an intellectual disability. True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False. It is, however, often a comorbid diagnosis to an intellectual disability.

Show question

Question

What is the most commonly known inherited form of intellectual disability?


Show answer

Answer

Fragile X Syndrome (FXS)

Show question

Question


What are the three most common forms of intellectual disability?

Show answer

Answer

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). 

22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2 DS). 

Fragile X syndrome (FXS).

Show question

Question

In older children, what are common symptoms that may identify an intellectual disability?


Show answer

Answer

Difficulties with planning, reasoning, and judgement. 

Show question

Question


An example of an intellectual disability is:

A. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

B. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

C. Dyslexia 

Show answer

Answer

B. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Show question

Question

What is the definition of a personality disorder?

Show answer

Answer

 A sequence of behavioral patterns that stray significantly from the usual societal expectations, and negatively affects the individual or others.

Show question

Question

What are some differences between personality traits and personality disorders?

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Answer

Unlike disorders, behavioral displays of typical personality traits stay within usual social and cultural expectations. They don't inhibit the individual's ability to maintain social relationships.

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Question

How many clusters divide the types of personality disorders? What are they called?

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Answer

Three. Clusters A, B, and C.

Show question

Question

What disorders fall under cluster A?

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Answer

Schizotypal, schizoid, and paranoid.

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Question

What personality disorders are present in cluster B?

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Answer

Histrionic, narcissistic, antisocial, and borderline personality disorder.


Show question

Question

What disorders are present in cluster C?

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Answer

Dependent, avoidant, obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.

Show question

Question

What is a person with a histrionic personality disorder like?

Show answer

Answer

Extremely emotional and attention-seeking.

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Question

What is a person with a narcissistic personality disorder like?

Show answer

Answer

 Braggadocious, unable to feel empathy for others, entitled, manipulative.

Show question

Question

What is a person with a borderline personality disorder like?

Show answer

Answer

Self-defeating, impulsive, emotionally unstable, unpredictable, and displays extreme mood swings.

Show question

Question

How are personality disorders diagnosed?

Show answer

Answer

Through the five maladaptive traits test.

Show question

Question

How many types of personality disorders are there?

Show answer

Answer

Ten

Show question

Question

What percent of the population has been diagnosed with BPD?

Show answer

Answer

Two percent.

Show question

Question

Personality traits and disorders are the same. True or False?

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

It is easy to diagnose someone with a personality disorder. True or False?

Show answer

Answer

False.

Show question

Question

How long can symptoms of a personality disorder last in those who are diagnosed?

Show answer

Answer

For their entire life.

Show question

Question

Is PTSD a type of anxiety disorder?

Show answer

Answer

Yes, it is considered a severe form of anxiety disorder. 

Show question

Question

What are some symptoms of having an anxiety disorder?

Show answer

Answer

Feeling a sense of danger, sweating, trouble concentrating. 

Show question

Question

Is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) different from other anxiety disorders?


Show answer

Answer

Because the fear and worry are so excessive, people with GAD experience difficulties in conducting even simple tasks. Their symptoms are severe and present in their social interactions, work-related issues, or daily routines.

Show question

Question

What are some symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

Show answer

Answer

Problems falling asleep or staying asleep

Muscle tension

Difficulty controlling worry

Problems concentrating

Fatigue

Show question

Question

What are some possible risk factors or causes of anxiety disorder?


Show answer

Answer

A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in other family members.

Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events, especially in early childhood.

Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias.

Show question

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