Biological approach to abnormality

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  • Biological approach to abnormality
    • causes
      • genes
        • mental illness = passed from parent to child through genetic inheritance
          • twin studies
            • pairs of identical twins are compared to see if one twin has a disorder that the other one share
            • this gives a concordance rate (shows how often both have condition)
            • low concordance rates = phobias
            • high concordance rates = schizophrenia
      • neuroanatomy
        • structure of the brain = responsible for mental illness
          • research
            • people with schizophrenia have large holes (ventricles) in their brain compared to people who are well
      • neurotansmitters
        • chemical imbalance
          • low levels of serotonin found in depressed people
    • evaluation
      • strengths
        • ethically acceptable
          • change in perceptions
            • more ethically acceptable view of people with mental illness
          • before = blamed, judged, "possessed"
            • now = not held responsible
          • medal model offers potential treatments
        • evidence from effectiveness of drugs
          • biological process involved in mental health
          • effectiveness of these biological therapies
            • gives support for the neurotransmitter explanations
          • drugs that increase serotonin levels in the brain help people feel less drepressed
            • drugs that decrease dopamine levels help people with schizophrenia
      • weaknesses
        • focused on nature side of nature nurture argument
          • just physical causes and not experiences
            • identical twin studies
              • both members don't always develop a mental illness when one does
          • individuals inherit a biological vulnerability that puts them at risk of developing illness
            • BUT only if they are exposed to particular life conditions / experiences
        • difficult to determine cause and effect
          • between an individual's biology and mental illness
          • we do not know if the biological approach can explain abnormality
    • treatments
      • Anti-anxiety drugs
        • control feelings of extreme anxiety
          • by reducing level of brain activity
          • bringing about feelings of being calm
        • BZ's increase GABA which lowers noradrenalin and serotonin for a calming affect
        • evaluation
          • stength
            • More effective than taking a placebo
            • BZ's make people feel even better than when they just think they've had treatment
            • actual therapeutic process taking place in altering brain activity
            • = effective treatment
          • weakeness
            • only good for short term use (a few weeks)
            • longer use causes additcion
            • can only reduce anxiety for a short time
      • Anti-depressant drugs
        • Increase serotonin levels to make depressed people feel more cheerful
          • drug prevents the serotonin from being reabsorbed/ removed from the system
            • leaving more serotonin to pass around the neurones
        • evaluation
          • strength
            • Better than placebo ONLY in severe cases of depression
          • weaknesses
            • didn't improve moderately depressed peoples mood
              • SSRI's = only effective in severely depressed people
            • risk of suicide linked with taking SSRI's
              • twice as likely to attempt suicide as those taking placebos
              • risk increased with adolescents and decreased in adults over 65
                • not appropriate for young people
      • Anti-psychotic drugs
        • evaluation
          • strengths
            • people who take these drugs = lower rate of replapse than placebos
            • effective therapy proven by studies for psychotic conditions
          • weakness
            • Bad side effect
              • uncontrollable movements of body parts (reversible)
      • ECT
        • helps severe cases of depression
          • creates an induced seizure by the electric current (70-130 volts)
            • to re-establish the ability of the brain to control mood by correcting neurotransmitter level & blood flow to the brain
        • evaluation
          • strengths
            • effective in treating severe depression and can prevent suicide
            • more effective- better recovery rates
          • weaknesses
            • 60% relapsed within a year (doesn't cure depression)
            • serious side effects (memory loss, headaches, permanent fear & anxiety (30%)
            • ETHICAL ISSUES: need fully informed consent.
  • high levels of dopamine in schizophrenia
    • chemical imbalance
      • low levels of serotonin found in depressed people
  • BZ's
  • not useful for long term
    • can only reduce anxiety for a short time
  • SSRI's
  • to control the hallucinations and delusions experienced in these illnesses
    • Anti-psychotic drugs
      • evaluation
        • strengths
          • people who take these drugs = lower rate of replapse than placebos
          • effective therapy proven by studies for psychotic conditions
        • weakness
          • Bad side effect
            • uncontrollable movements of body parts (reversible)
    • reduce amount of dopamine that flows around neurons in brain
    • drug blocks the dopamine receptops on the neurones
      • less dopamine is carried around the brain
  • drug blocks the dopamine receptops on the neurones
    • less dopamine is carried around the brain
  • not useful

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