emotional, behavioural and cognitive characteristics of phobias, depression and OCD


behavioural, emotional and cognitive characteristi

behavioral refers to how people act

emotional refers to how people feel

cognitive refers to how people think 

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what is a phobia?

phobias are an anxiety disorder, having a fear is not the same as having a phobia! A fear is only a phobia when it negatively impacts on a persons everyday life. 

behavioural characteristics

mostly avoidance behaviours - avoiding the phobic stimulus, avoidance interferes with a persons normal routine. there will be physical symptoms, the fight or flight response when confronted with the phobia - or even the thought of it. 

emotional characteristics

intense fear and extreme upset - the fear is excessive and unreasonable to others. the person will be visibly upset and distressed at the sight or thought of the phobic object or situation. Anxiety and panic are also emotional characteristics of phobias .

cognitive characteristics

the irrational nature of the individuals think and the resistance to rational arguments. the person recognises that the fear is unreasonable ans excessive but the persons view of the phobic stimulus may be distorted. 

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what is depression?

depression is a mood or affective (affects the way you function) disorder. It involves prolonged and fundamental disturbance of mood and emotion.

emotional characteristics

sadness and lowered mood is the most common characteristic, along with feeling empty, worthless and hopeless. individuals with depression may have lowered self esteem and have a sense of self loathing. a loss of interests in hobbies and activities that the person may of enjoyed. anger is also common - directed at themself or others. 

behavioural characteristics

a change in activity levels - reduced or increased. a sense of tiredness and a wish to sleep all the time or feeling agitated and restless. sleep may be affected, sleeping too much or finding it hard to sleep. a persons appetite may be affected - eating more considerabky more than usual or hardly having an appetite. aggression and self harm, people with depression may be irritable and angry. some direct anger on others around them or onto themselves (self harm and suicide attempts) 

cognitive characteristics

process information differently - have a negative view on the world and have negative thoughts and negative self concept. have an expectation that things will turn out badly rathen than well. may have poor levels of concentration and find it hard to focus.

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what is OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

a serious anxiety related condition where a person experiences intrusive thoughts followed by obsessive thoughts followed by a repetitive compulsion/urge. 


a uncontrollable and persistant thoughts or images, often intrusive, disturbing and unwanted that significantly interefere with a persons ability to function in everyday life. 


repetitive behaviours that are preformed in attempt to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessive thought. (eg washing hands, checking locks etc) any relief is only temporary and then the obsessive thought comes back meaning the compulsive behaviour has to be repeated. 

cycle of OCD 

obsessive thought (catching a disease, home invasion)

anxiety (scared of cating a disease, somone entering your home)

compulsive behaviour (washing hands, checking locks on doors and windows)

temporary relief 

then the cycle keeps going and going. 

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behavioural characteristics

compulsive behaviours are performed to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessive thought. they are repetitive behaviours. they may be mental like praying or counting or may be physical like washing hands or checking. avoidance is another characteristic of OCD, a person may attempt to avoid a situation that might trigger anxiety. 

emotional characteristics

powerful anxiety and distress. obsessive thoughts that are unpleasant and frightening and the anxiety can be overwhelming. accompanying depression - low mood, lack of enjoyment. guilt and disgust - irrational guilt. 

cognitive characteristics

cognitive aspect of OCD is obsessions - recurrent, intrusive thoughts or impulses. they may be frightning and or embarrassing, they are seen as uncontrollable which creates anxiety. People with OCD may have catastrophic thoughts about the worst case scenarios. 

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