Common Psychiatric Disorders
In the recent years there has been a significant rise in the prevalance of psychological disturbances and psychiatric disorders. Although this can be mostly accounted for by the changing lifestyles leading to stress but most of it is due to rising public awareness and acceptance of mental illness. Here is a brief account of some common mental illnesses:
a) Depression: we all know that depression in characterized by sadness of mood, disinterest in routine and pleasurable activities, reduced interaction along with negative thinking, but what we don’t know is that such symptoms have to be sustained for at least 2 weeks and lead to functional impairment (negatively affecting work, relationships etc) before being called a disorder per se.
Management requires a thorough assessment to rule out a medical or external cause followed by psychotherapy and/or pharmacotherapy.
b) Mania : this is a severe mood disorder characterized by sustained irritable or cheerful mood, physical and mental over activity , over spending, over grooming, overtly philosophical and religious talks, aggression, reduced need for sleep , increased desire for sex and self inflated talks.
The management is by medications followed by supportive psychotherapy once the patient becomes stable.
Bipolar Disorder: This is a severely disturbing mood disorder characterized by episodes of both mania and depression alternating with periods of complete recovery in between them.
The management requires long term prophylaxis (medications) to prevent from frequent relapses.
Addictive disorders: being habitual of something does not always mean that one is addicted. Addiction is a much severe neurobiological phenomenon characterized by severe urge to consume a substance(craving), gradual increase in amount of substance/drug consumed over the years(tolerance), mild to severe withdrawal symptoms (such as anxiety, restlessness, sleep disturbances, tremors, bodyaches etc ) on suddenly stopping the substance and physical, psychological, social harm resulting from chronic intake of substance.
The various substances/drugs to which a person may be addicted to are:
Alcohol- whiskey, beer, rum, gin
Cannabis – bhang, ganja, charas.
Opioid- pain killer capsules & injections, cough syrups, brown sugar
Inhalants & volatile substances- whitener liquid, petrol fumes, thinner, nail paint remover etc.
Nicotine – bidi, cigrratte, tobacco, gutka
Amphetamines- body building capsules, steroids.
Schizophrenia: a severe mental illness wherein an individual loses contact with reality. He/she has experiences which despite not occurring seem real to him. He may have firm belief of being harmed by someone ant thoughts and acts being under external influence or control.
Treatment requires medication and psychotherapy.
Anxiety Disorders: anxiety is actually an adaptive response of the body, meant to prepare the body for any danger. Howsoever, anxiety may become a disorder when it becomes excessive, occurs in relation to non threatening stimuli and impairs an individual’s functioning.
Panic disorder – recurrent, episodic, acute onset, severe anxiety, occurring in bouts which may or may not be associated with a specific situation or object. The anxiety symptoms include racing of heart, breathlessness, choking sensations, shivering, numbness of hands & feet, dryness of mouth, sweating, nausea, vomiting, which is very severe and person feels as if he is about to die or go crazy.
Management includes a thorough assessment to rule out any underlying general medical cause followed by a combination of psychotherapy and medications.
Phobias: Excessive, unrealistic fear of specific situation or object such as dogs, spiders, heights, closed spaces. Management is by a combination of psychotherapy & pharmacotherapy.
Obsessive Compulsive disorder: a severely impairing anxiety disorder wherein an individual does an activity repeatedly such as washing cleaning , checking due to recurrent , unwanted, senseless anxiety provoking thoughts wherein an individual fears or doubts that he has not completed a task satisfactorily or that not doing things in a certain manner will harm him in some manner. Management is by combination of psychotherapy & pharmacotherapy.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This is characterized by a constant state of anxiety in most of the day, without any specific situation or object. The symptoms are mild but impairing in day to dy activities.
Childhood Psychiatric disorders
Childhood psychiatric illnesses:
Children too may suffer from depression, anxiety, panic, OCD, schizophrenia. Howsoever, there are certain illnesses restricted to these age groups.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
In this disorder, the child is extremely hyperactive, impulsive with/without poor concentration. Such children are always on the go, running around, jumping, disturbing other kid in the class. When accompanied by reduced concentration, these children find it difficult to complete the tasks at hand and forget or loose things frequently. When accompanied by impulsivity, such children have difficulty in waiting for their turn, disturbing the class, moving out during the class etc. this causes significant impairment in their academic and social sphere.
Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by:
- Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts;
- Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities;
- Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (typically recognized in the first two years of life); and,
- Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.
- A child needs thorough assessment after which a holistic management plan is adopted.