Emotional, cognitive and behavioural characteristics

  • Created by: Bethany
  • Created on: 16-08-19 08:32

Emotional characteristics

Refer to the way people feel.

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Cognitive characteristics

Refer to people's internal mental processes such as thinking, attention and perception.

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Behavioural characteristics

Refer to the way people act.

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Phobias (definition)

Anxiety disorders characterised by excessive fear and anxiety, triggered by an object, place or situation. the extent of the fear is out of proportion to any real danger presented by the phobic stimulus and interferes with the persons normal routine. Examples of common phobic stimuli include spiders, enclosed spaces and heights.

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Phobias - emotional

1. Anxiety

Anxiety is an unpleasant state of high arousal (feelings of worry/distress) we experience when we encounter or think about phobic stimuli. This can make it very difficult to experience any positive emotions.

2. Unreasonable emotional response

The fear/terror experienced is often disproportionate to the actual danger osed by the phobic stimulus. For example an individuals fear of spiders will involve a strong emotional response to a small, harmless spider.

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Phobias - cognitive

1. Irrational beliefs

These are beliefs that are not logical and do not make sense to other people. Sufferers often hold irrational beliefs about the phobic stimulus and are very resistant to rational arguments. For example, a person with a fear of flying is not helped by arguments that it is actually the safest form of transport.

2. Selective attention

Sufferers will often find it difficult to focus their attention away from the phobic stimulus and this can interfere with everyday life. For exampple, someone with a phobia of spiders may find it difficult to concentrate on what they're doing if someone has mentioned a spider.

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Phobias - behavioural

1. Avoidance

Sufferers often go out of their way to avoid the phobic stimulus to reduce anxiety, this can significantly interfere with their normal day to day life. For example, someone with a social phobia may avoid certain social situations which could affect their job and relationships.

2. Panicking

Sufferers often panic in response to the phobic stimuli. This panic can be in the form of behaviours such as freezing, crying, screaming or running away.

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Depression (definition)

Mood disorder characterised by sad, depressed mood. Other symptoms include a loss of interest and pleasure in usuall activities, low energy levels, negative self-concept and feelings of worthlessness. To be diagnosed, the symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in general functioning for more than 2 weeks.

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Depression - emotional

1. Sad, depressed mood

'Sadness' is a common emotional term when people are describing their depression. It is often combined with feelings of 'emptiness', 'worthlessness', 'hopelessness' and 'low self-esteem'.

2. Anger

Negative emotions can at times also be shown in the form of the anger. This anger can be directed as aggression towards oneself or towards others.

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Depression - cognitive

1. Negative schema

Depressed people often have negative thoughts and expectations about their lives, relationships and the world in general. They believe things will generally turn out badly and this expectation can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, reinforcing those negative beliefs.

2. Poor concentration

Sufferers often find themselves unable to stick to a task or make decisions as they normally would. This is then likely to interfere with a sufferer's work and ability to communicate.

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Depression - behavioural

1. Disruption of sleeping and eating

Depression is associated with disruption in our normal eating and sleeping behaviours. Insomnia and hypersomnia are common and appetite can also increase or decrease with depression which can lead to weight loss or gain.

2. Activity levels

Depressed people will often experience disruption in their activity levels. Low energy levels can lead to withdrawal from work, social lives or even stuggling to get out of bed. Some depressed people experience the opposite and have high energy levels resulting in agitation and restlessness.

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OCD (definition)

Anxiety disorder characterised by either obsessions (persistent thoughts which create feelings of anxiety- internal) and/or compulsions (repetitive behaviours done to try and reduce anxiety created by compulsions- external). The obsessions and/or compulsions cause distress, are time consuming and interfere with the person's normal routine.

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OCD - emotional

1. Anxiety

Anxiety is an unpleasant state of high arousal we experience which can accompany both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessive thoughts can be frightening and the stress they cause can be overwhelming and prevent a person from functioning normally.

2. Reduction of anxiety

Feelings of anxiety are often reduced as a result of compulsive behaviours and this anxiety might drive many repetitive compulsive behaviours. For example, compulsive hand-washing might reduce the anxiety caused by an excessive fear of germs, encouraging more hand-washing.

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OCD - cognitive

1. Obsessions

Obsessions are persistent recurring internal thoughts that often drive anxious feelings. Obsessions could be ideas or doubts.

2. Irrational beliefs

These are beliefs that are not logical and do not make sense to other people. At some point during the course of the disorder the sufferer does recognise that the obsessions and compulsions are excessive and unreasonable.

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OCD - behavioural

1. Compulsive behaviours

These are externally visible and repetitive as sufferers feel compelled to repeat the behaviour to reduce anxiety. For example, repetitive hand-washing, counting and tidying/ordering.

2. Avoidance

Sufferers may go out of their way to avoid situations which usually trigger anxiety and this can significantly interfere with their normal day to day lives. The aim being to reduce anxiety through avoidance. For example, sufferers who compulsively wash their hands may go out of their way to avoid contact with germs.

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