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  • Created on: 07-06-12 11:39

Disorders - Characteristics of disorders

Anxiety Disorder - Disorders (Characteristics of disorders)

An anxiety disorder involves a general feeling of dread or apprehension along with a range of psychological reactions such as increased heart rate, sweating, muscle tension and rapid or shallow breathing. The classification system of anxiety disorders covers many different disorders such as: phobias, post traumatic stress, panic disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. Classification systems like DSMIV and ICD10 label these disorders as neurotic disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder, phobias and OCD. Dissociative disorders such as amnesia and dissociative identity disorder. Finally somatoform disorders such as hypochondrias and body dysmorphic disorders. Phobias are anxiety disorders were people only have problems when they come into contact with the phobic object or situation therefore such objects or situations are avoided by those people. Symptoms of a phobia include a persistent fear that is excessive/unreasonable, disrupts their normal life, an immediate anxiety response if the phobic object or situation is encountered.

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Disorders - Characteristics of disorders

Affective Disorder - Disorders (Characteristics of disorders)

In affective disorders a persons fundamental mood is changed. A person with depression will have intense feelings of despair while a person who is manic will have intense feelings of happiness. For a person to be diagnosed with with an affective disorder there must be serious disruption to the persons normal life in areas such as work and relationships. A type of affective disorder is depression. Depression is more than just feeling low. Common symptoms of depression include reduced concentration, low self esteem and appetite, loss of interest, reduced energy and disturbed sleep in the ICD 10 classification system. Tiredness, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness, fidgeting, problems with concentration are common symptoms in the DSM IV classification criteria.

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Disorders - Characteristics of disorders

Psychotic Disorder - Disorders (Characteristics of disorders)

Psychotic disorders are disorders that have a loss of contact with reality as their main characteristic. Their behaviour and thinking becomes disorganised, this can lead the person to withdraw from their environment and become confused and disorientated. There is evidence to suggest substance abuse is linked to the increase in the diagnosis of psychotic disorders. Schizophrenia is an example of a psychotic disorder and it has positive and negative symptoms. For example positive symptoms are things that are present that should not be such as delusions and negative symptoms are the absence of things that should be present, like lack of motivation.  The DSM classification criteria is delusions, social dysfunction, disorganised speech etc and two must be present for a diagnosis. The ICD 10 classification system is irrelevant speech, marked apathy and hallucinatory voices.

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Disorders - Explanations of an Anxiety Disorder

Watson - Disorders (Explanations of an Anxiety Disorder)

Watson aimed to see if it was possible to induce fear of a previously neutral object through classical conditioning. He conducted a case study of Little Albert In a controlled laboratory. He was the son of a wet nurse and before the study had no fear of a rat, rabbit, cotton wool etc. Every time he reached for the rat a steel bar was struck which made a loud noise and scared Little Albert. As he kept being tested he still showed a fear of the rat and it was also transferred to other object such as a Santa clause mask and a dog. The fear also reoccurred in a bigger different room as Little Albert still cried and tried to crawl away. This therefore shows us that it is possible to condition fear through classical conditioning, fear transfers to similar objects and time did not remove the fear response. Due to Little Albert being taken away from the hospital they did not have chance to debrief him.

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Disorders - Explanations of an Anxiety Disorder

Ohman - Disorders (Explanations of an Anxiety Disorder)

Ohman aimed to investigate whether it was easier to condition people to fear a potentially harmful object like snakes rather than a non threatening object like a house. 64 Psychology students from a University in Sweden volunteered and were paid. Participants were assigned to one of the three groups. Electric shocks were given to half the sample after pictures of snakes, a quarter of the sample after horses and the other quarter after faces. They were given shocks that were uncomfortable but not painful. Fear reaction was measured by skin conductance. After conditioning those given shocks when presented with pictures of snakes had a higher skin conductance in response compared to those who saw houses/faces. This supports biological explanations of phobias that human beings have a preparedness to develop phobias of things that may cause us harm.

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Disorders - Explanations of an Anxiety Disorder

DiNardo - Disorders (Explanations of an Anxiety Disorder)

DiNardo aimed to assess whether 'excessive worry' is a symptom of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This was a quasi exp as he used patients who already did or did not have GAD. All participants were from 3 different clinics in America. Patients were interviewed twice using the Anxiety Disorders interview and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM. A five point rating scale was used for symptoms. Researchers then analysed the data to determine the frequency of the symptom of excessive worry in both groups. They found that patients already diagnosed were significantly more likely to report the symptom of excessive worry. Those diagnosed with GAD reported excessive worry for 59% of the day compared with patients not diagnosed who reported 42% of the day. This is evidence of the cognitive concept of faulty thinking as worry is 'excessive'.

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Disorders - Treatments for an Anxiety Disorder

McGrath - Disorders (Treatments for an Anxiety Disorder)

McGrath aimed to treat a girl with a specific noise phobia using systematic desensitisation. It was a case study of Lucy a 9 year old girl who had a fear of sudden loud noises. In the first session she constructed a hierarchy of feared noises and she was taught breathing and imagery to relax. Throughout she rated her fear from 1 to 10. She eventually associated the loud noise with relaxation making her feel calm. By Lucys final and tenth session all her ratings of herfear of noises had dramatically decreased. Therefore this suggests that noise phobias in children are amenable to systematic desensitisation. But this does not mean all phobias may work in the same way.

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Disorders - Treatments for an Anxiety Disorder

Leibowitz - Disorders (Treatments for an Anxiety Disorder)

Leibowitz aimed to see if the drug phenelzine can help treat patients with social phobia. This was a controlled experiment where patients were allocated to one of four conditions and treated over 8 weeks. There were 80 patients with no other disorders and were medically healthy. They signed a consent form. One group was treated with phenelzine and another group had a matching placebo. Another group was given atenolol and the final group another matching placebo. Patients were assessed at the beginning then given there drugs or placebo. They were then assessed at the end using scales by independent evaluators in a double blind situation. After 8 weeks they found that the phenelzine group had better score than the other groups therefore phenelzine but not atenolol is effective in treating social phobia after 8 weeks of treatment.

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Disorders - Treatments for an Anxiety Disorder

Ost & Westling - Disorders (Treatments for Anxiety Disorder)

Ost and Westling aimed to compare cognitive behavioural therapy with applied relaxation therapies for panic disorders. It was a longitudinal study with patients undergoing therapy for panic disorders. 38 patients took part with a DSM diagnosis of panic disorder. There were 26 females and 12 males. Patients were randomly assigned to either cognitive therapy or applied relaxation. First there was a baseline assessment and then patients kept a diary of all panic attacks. They were then given 12 weeks of treatment with homework to carry out between appointments. They found that cognitive behavioural therapy showed 74% panic free patients after the treatment and 89% panic free after a year. Applied relaxation showed 65% panic free patients after the treatment, 82% panic free after a year. Therefore both cognitive therapy and applied relaxation worked at reducing panic attacks.

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