Characterstics of disorders

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Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are characterised by a continuous feeling of anxiety accompanied by physiological symptoms e.g. sweating that are debilitating and intefere with daily functioning.

 Anxiety disorders are neurotic and include OCD, phobias and PTSD.

 Phobias are a definate, persistant fear of an object or situation that provokes an immediate response + person cannot control the fear response.

  • DSM-V symptoms include:
  • Marked and persistant fear that is excessive/unreasonable.
  • Exposure to phobic stimulus provokes immediate anxiety response.
  • Phobic situation is avoided.
  • Person recognises fear as excessive.
  • Phobia has lasted more that 6 months is people under 18.

Around 11% of the UK population have some type of phobia. The DSM-V requires two to three of these symptoms to be present for diagnosis and the phobia not have to been caused by side effects of medication.

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Affective disorders

Affective disorders are characterised by a major disturbance of emotions and dramatic changes in mood that interferes with daily functioning.

These include disorders such as depression - feelings of intense despair + persistant low mood or bipolar - where a person will have severe mood swings including manic and depressive disorders.

DSM-V symptoms for depression include:

  • Insomnia for most nights.
  • Fidgeting or lethargy.
  • Tiredness.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death
  • Significant weight change.

Depression is a very common disorder, the DSM-V requires at least 5 of the 9 symptoms in the DSM to be present before diagnosis. Symptoms should not be the result of medication side effects and should have been present in people >18 for <6 months.

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Psychotic disorders

Psychotic disorders involve a loss of contact with reality and leading to withdrawal from the world, confusion and disorientation.

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder with symptoms classed as either positive (present ones) or negative (loss of normal functioning):


  • Delusions
  • Auditory/visual hallucinations - hearing voices/seeing things that don't exist.
  • Disorganised speech and thinking.


  • Depression
  • Inability to respond emotionally/feel pleasure.

Schizophrenia affects 1% of the populations and onset is usually early adulthood. the DSM-V requires at least 2 symptoms present and disorder not due to medication side effects

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