Emotional Health

Emotional Health
To determine the extent of a person's psychological disorders, professionals in the past relied upon the
classification of the two terms "neurosis" and "psychosis." Although actual mental/emotional disorders are not
diagnosed as "neurotic" or "psychotic," it can be helpful to understand the difference between the two terms.
Neuroses are emotional disorders caused by unresolved conflicts that lead to anxiety. A person who is neurotic
does not distort reality, but may have irrational thoughts and also may behave in ways that do not make sense.
Furthermore, because a neurotic individual recognizes reality, he/she is aware of irrational thoughts and
behaviors, but may have problems fixing them. A stereotypical "neurotic" person may be characterized as
anxious, worried, or frustrated. There have been many successful television shows with story plots structured
around neurotic TV characters:
Modern Family
Seinfeld (video clip via YouTube)
Monk (video clip via spike.com)
Urkel from Family Matters (YouTube clips from the show; Internet Movie Database)
Alan Harper from "Two and a Half Men"
(If you have any to add, please send me an email)
Psychoses are a number of severe mental disorders caused by physical or emotional disturbances, or both. A
psychotic person generally fails at functioning in all areas of life. He or she is often unable to recognize reality,
experiencing hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not real) and delusions (irrational beliefs that do
not reflect reality). Characteristics of the psychotic also include disorganized thinking and personality changes.
Although the above two terms are used quite frequently to describe an individual's thought patterns or
behaviors, true mental disorders are diagnosed using specific criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders IV-TR (DSM IV, fourth edition, text revision). Some of these mental disorders are
included in the following categories:
Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder
Anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of apprehension, worry, fear, alarm, or even terror. The
emotional and physical symptoms, as well as the situations in which these symptoms are experienced, depend
upon the disorder. As a general rule, the anxiety disorder sufferer feels extreme discomfort and experiences an
interruption of day-to-day functioning, a feature not typically experienced by an individual in the general
population. Several examples include generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, and panic disorder. Although
obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are no longer classified as anxiety disorders as
of 2013, they are included in HEA150 reading based on student interest.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by feelings of worry and dread, experienced across a
number of environmental situations. The person with GAD may sense something unidentifiable is wrong, and
subsequently feel distressed. The feelings of dread or worry can also be accompanied by irritability,
sleeplessness, concentration difficulties, muscle tension and fatigue. For more general information on GAD,
travel to the National Institute for Mental Health (O). In order to be diagnosed with GAD, the affected
individual is to have experienced symptoms for at least six month.
It is important to note that in some cases anxiety may not be the primary issue but instead be a symptom of
another health condition. Hyperthyroidism (O--Medicine.net), for example, can cause many symptoms,
including anxiety. (O)
Travel to Youtube.com to view a clip, "What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?" (R-Illumistream)
Specific Phobia (also known as Simple Phobia)
A phobia is an intense fear of an object or particular situation, where the discomfort (anxiety) experienced is out
of proportion to how others would react to the situation. Common phobia examples include a fear of flying, a
fear of snakes, a fear of heights, and a fear of being in public places. Although a phobic person may recognize
that his fear is irrational, his or her difficulties in overcoming the fear may disrupt daily living. To be diagnosed
with a phobia, the phobic symptoms must be in place for at least six months.
Videojug.com houses a short video identifying the top ten phobias (O).
Panic Disorder
In panic disorder, the individual experiences recurrent expected or unexpected panic attacks. In a panic attack,
the affected person experiences severe, disabling anxiety, often without warning. Panic attack symptoms are to
include four or more of the following1:
Increased heart rate/palpitations
Increased breathing frequency/irregular breathing
Chest pain or discomfort
Nausea or other gastric distress
Numbness or tingling sensation
Fear of dying or losing control, feelings of detachment
Furthermore, chemical substances must be ruled out as the cause of the panic attacks.
A person diagnosed with panic disorder may or may not develop a fear of having a panic attack. If the
individual does develop a fear of having an attack and consequently tries to avoid situations where panic attacks
are triggered, he or she is said to suffer from agoraphobia. In agoraphobia, the affected person has anxiety over
situations or places where escape is difficult or embarrassing. For example, a person who experiences a panic
attack while crossing a bridge may avoid bridges. Bridge avoidance may develop into car travel avoidance and
perhaps eventually develop into avoidance of all situations outside the home. Agoraphobia can occur with panic
disorder shortly upon onset or may develop over time. Prior to 2013 panic disorder was classified either with or
without agoraphobia, but agoraphobia is now considered a separate condition of its own.
For more information on panic disorder, visit PsychCentral (O).
Videojug.com provides a video regarding panic attacks and panic disorder (O).
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Formerly considered an anxiety disoder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is considered a separate
condition as of 2013. A person with OCD suffers from irrational thoughts or perceptions that recur, are allconsuming, cause anxiety, and that affect productivity. These thoughts or perceptions are called obsessions. A
person diagnosed with OCD may also exhibit behavior--a compulsion--reflecting the obsession. A stereotypical
example is the person who is obsessed about cleanliness so much that she washes her hands many times
throughout the day, avoids public restrooms, wears a protective mask etc.
Common obsessions include extreme concern with germs, dirt, cleanliness; fears of saying something obscene
or profane, persistent thoughts of numbers, order, senseless sounds or words; and fears of harming one�s self
or of hurting others.
Common compulsions include repeated
or ritualized hand washing, bathing or
cleaning; repeated checking for damage
or harm to an object or person;
The above image was contributed to the public domain by Lars Kintwall Malmqvist, and was retrieved via
persistent counting of objects, words,
Wikimedia Commons.
movements; and other repeating
The OCD patient recognizes his thoughts, impulses or images are irrational and attempts to ignore or suppress
them. A checklist of OCD symptoms is available at brainphysics.com, adapted from Jeffrey Schwartz's work,
Brain Lock (O). To read examples i.e. personal OCD stories, you can find several at healthyplace.com (O).
Laura Taylor and Kinjal Patel produced a video, posted on YouTube, describing OCD and showing examples of
OCD-like behavior as shown on the previously-run USA Network program, "Monk" (O).
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Also formerly considered an anxiety disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is recognized as its own
condition as of 2013. Characterized by the reliving or re-experiencing of a threatening, disturbing event through
nightmares, frightful recollections, cues or symbols relating to the event, PTSD is common among victims of
violent crime, natural disasters, combat, and automobile accidents. The person suffering from PTSD is irritable,
experiences concentration and sleep disturbances, and has an exaggerated startle response. PTSD is diagnosed
after the affected individual has experienced its symptoms for longer than a month. For more information on
PTSD symptoms (R), visit the Mental Health Net.
As of 2013, PTSD among adults, adolescents, and children older than six years is defined by a set of criteria. If
interested in learning more about the criteria, travel to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for
more information (O).
1 Staff, PsychCentral. "Panic Attack Symptoms | Psych Central." Psych Central - Trusted mental health, depression, bipolar, ADHD and psychology information .. N.p., n.d. Web.
3 Oct. 2013. <http://psychcentral.com/disorders/panic-attack-symptoms/>.