Living with Psychiatric Disorders

Living with certain medical conditions is hard enough, but what about those who live with psychiatric disorders? There are not too many articles out there today that take an in-depth look at these various illnesses. From symptoms to diagnosis we will go inside the psychiatric realm to learn more on the most common mental disorders.

Before a person can know if they suffer from any one or more of the psychiatric disorders they must first go through a series of psychological testing. This includes, but is not limited to; paper testing: where questions are asked and more involved testing that consists of learning genetic history and medical history. When combining the results of these tests, with the patient’s current situation, only then can it be determined if the person suffers from a psychiatric disorder.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Various Testing
Two of the main tests when dealing with a potential psychiatric patient are as follows:

1. The Objective Test-The purpose of this test will provide a quantitative evaluation compared to the standard.
� Intelligence-Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. This test reveals not only IQ but can also show if there is any intellectual deterioration that has occurred or is occurring.

� Multiphasic Personality Inventory- This is merely a personality assessment. Whatever the scores they will be posted in comparison with data according to other patients with the same patterns to evaluate certain psychopathologic changes.

� Screening-This test shows the degrees of dysphoria and measures the patients concerns and helps with a deferential diagnosis.

� Neuropsychological Assessment- This certain test is used when an organic deficit is present but the data on the location and extent of the dysfunction is needed.

2. Projective Tests: These tests are basically unstructured so that each person is ultimately forced into responding in certain ways that reflect fantasy/modes of adaptation. This is important in identifying not only psychotic disorders but also unconscious motivations.

âÂ?¢ Rorschach Psychodiagnostics-We are all familiar with this kind of test as we have seen it portrayed in movies many times. Yes, this is referring to the “ink blot test” it actually provides imperative data on psychodynamic themes and adorations.

� Thematic Apperception Test- This is where a patient is given a series of 20 pictures of people in various situations to see if they apply the information to personal conflicts.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Neurological Evaluations
Not only are these tests absolutely necessary but it does become more complicated than this. For example, brain imaging is useful in detecting certain abnormalities for some whose problems are not as evident as others. Dissociative episodes and other psychotic episodes that can not be explained by drug abuse and other self inflicted problems can be identified a little easier through this process. The MRI test is very important when trying to identify lesions and degenerative diseases. Electroencephalography is extremely useful in the diagnosis of seizures, delirium, depression and dementia.

Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography, otherwise known as SPECT, is a gamma imaging technology. PET, other wise known as Positron Emissions Tomography, provides images of brain activity. Both of these tests show the brain activity, however, the only difference between these tests are:

� SPECT is less expensive

� PET has higher image resolution and quantification of brain activity.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Treatment
There are various treatment options available for the patient and for the doctor. Depending on the medical/ psychological/social/environmental and behavioral patterns of the patient depends greatly on how they will be treated for the underlying condition.

Psychiatric consultations usually occur to find out if the problems can be treated with therapy and medication. However, in some cases hospitalization can be the best way to go. Hospitalization occurs when a person can no longer care for themselves or have one of the following symptoms:

� Self neglect

� Violence

� Bizarre behavior

� Suicidal

� Paranoid schizophrenia

� Delusions

� Obvious intellectual impairment

� Poor judgment

Hospitalization usually worries those with psychiatric disorders and sometimes even their families. But there are different avenues to be explored inside of this one word. For instance, there are day programs, out patient programs, and then of course the full time in-patient care.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Stress Disorders
There are some serious psychiatric disorders that go along with basic everyday occurrences that seem to negatively overwhelm certain people. Stress can be produced by adaptive behavior. But the response to stress is the function that comes from a person’s physiological endowment and personality.

It is not the stress that causes a psychotic disorder but rather the reaction one takes to cope or deal with the stress. There is good stress and there is bad stress. For example, if a person suffers from a severe psychiatric condition and gets a much anticipated raise or promotion the stress and excitement can become too much for their brain to handle. In a more severe case, this person, may violently attack all those in his/her office (i.e. a shooting, etc.) to alleviate the built up pressure of the stress. You see, regardless the positive and negative stress can both significantly disturb balances in brain activity in a person who has a psychotic disorder.

A person might have a reaction to stress that produces various problems. Becoming anxious, depressed, or developing physical symptoms where your reaction is outside your own personal boundary (i.e. Running away, overly drinking, doing drugs, starting and affair or other avenues such as these). The most common responses are fear, rage, guilt, aggressive impulses, shame, and frustration over helplessness.

PTSD, also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this usually includes anxiety by a person who continually re-experiences a traumatic event. The most common of the serious events leading to this disorder include:

� A murder/death of a loved one

� Rape

� Severe burns

� Military combat

� Child abuse

People with this disorder usually experience intrusive thoughts, illusions, delusions, over-generalized associations, sleeping problems such as nightmares, concentration difficulties, and hyper-alertness. There are four types of treatment for stress disorders :

1. Behavioral-reducing stress, or exposure to stressful events

2. Social- Erasing denial and clarifying the problem allows closure and coping

3. Psychological- Counseling is usually preferred as a way of dealing with various issues.

4. Medical- this would mean medications like anti-depressants and other sedatives but, it does not end there� as panic attacks, anger management and sleep disruption also have a line of medicines.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Anxiety
Stress, fear and anxiety are mostly all interactive. The components like tension, apprehension, and fear are psychological while hyperventilation, heart palpitations, tremors and even sweating are somatic. The anxiety symptoms of apprehensions are usually worry, irritability, insomnia, and other somatic irritants that are brought on for longer than 6 months.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
The obsessive compulsive reaction is an impulse that constantly intrudes in a person’s daily life. Reoccurring thoughts or obsessions and compulsions can be present in any areas of a person’s life. The primary concern, or mission, is for that person not to loose control of what drives this disorder. Patients with this disorder feel the need to be in control.

One defining characteristic of this disorder is for example, if a person constantly shops and spends money they do not have on things that they do not need or could not possibly use in their lifetime. This affects not only the person doing it, but all the people around them including family and friends.

Another clear reaction of this psychiatric disorder is the need to wash your hands and wash everything as you are afraid to death of germs. Tourette’s syndrome, food binging and purging and compulsive running are also good indications of OCD.

Depending on the type of OCD that the person in question has, they are usually predictable in their behaviors. Neurological abnormalities of the fine motor coordination are common. Certain stress can compel paranoid and delusional behaviors making the person mimic schizophrenia.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Phobic Disorders
Phobias are an ineffective defense mechanism. They intensify a fear to such a magnitude that it can cause destructive and harmful behavior. Certain phobias in certain individuals are frequently associated with severe panic attacks making a normal life hard for the individual to live.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Treatments
The medical approach is often used in generalized anxiety through sedation and anti-depressants. These medications can contribute to dependency problems. Abrupt withdrawals of the sedative after prolonged use can cause critical and even fatal convulsive seizures.

The behavioral approach is widely used for a multitude of anxiety disorders. Relaxation techniques can be learned to reduce stress. This is perhaps the best way to go as certain behavioral targeting techniques can teach a person to effectively deal with the problem that they are taking to the extreme.

The psychological approach has been proven to be effective and usually this comes in form of counseling� it can treat panic attacks, phobias and other obsessive compulsive disorders. This therapy can help people cope with their fears and dealing with others which helps to include them as the entire healing process.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Somatoforms
Somatoform disorder is an abnormal illness behavior. 45% of patients complaining of palpitations had lifetime psychiatric diagnosis including generalized anxiety, panic, and depression among other disorders.

Hysterical Conversion Disorder has now been changed to simply “Conversion”. It takes a psychic conflict and turns it into physical symptoms. The defense mechanisms used in these disorders are usually isolation and or repression. Important information in the diagnosis of this condition includes a history of conversion or somatization disorder such as pretending to have a symptom after a person learns that someone else has had it, or a serious emotional event, psychopathology, (depression, schizophrenia, multiple personalities) and other such cases.

Hysteria is usually defined by numerous physical complaints referable to many program system keys that are often present are: anxiety, panic and depression.

Hypochondriasis , this psychological disorder deals with a persons fear of catching or developing a serious medical condition when there is no need to worry about it at all. This is nothing more than a phobia that has been unleashed into their psyche. The fear of sickness, pain and even death are so overwhelming that normal bodily functions will prompt a negative reaction from within. The person will believe that they are actually feeling pain and will sometimes incite themselves into hysteria and panic/stress disorders.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Factitious Disorders
These disorders are very involved. This is where a person completely makes up all symptoms in order to deceive doctors. They are usually self induced symptoms or false laboratory findings. For example, a person might go into a hospital with a name for a condition they “might” have, when actually it is self induced. When the doctor asks about other past medical problems the person will lie about tests that they never had. These manifestations are often exaggerated dramatically. For instance, Munchausen Syndrome is usually nothing more than a parent with psychiatric problems using their child as a tool to form a close relationship with doctors for their own personally need and security.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Chronic Pain Disorders
A person who believes themselves to be effected by chronic pain usually has a psychological disorder that makes them see the doctor frequently. This certain type of person usually (over 90% of the time) takes way too many prescription drugs, has seen many doctors, stays in bed a lot and does not have much happiness in their daily life. As unfortunate as it is this person will often come in contact with relationships that do not last for one reason or another, including doctors. A couple things can happen in this instance, either the person will move to another location where no one knows them to start up another relationship with doctors hoping to cope with phobias in their mind� OR They will inflict other wounds upon themselves and transfer to different doctors hoping to replace the relationship they feel has been dissolved due to the last physician.

Living With Psychiatric Disorders: Schizophrenia
A group of syndromes evident by varied disruption of the thinking behavior and all around mood processes�yes we are talking about schizophrenic disorders. Many things go into the diagnosis of schizophrenic disorders. There are many causes such as genetics, environmental surroundings, and pathophysiology. These are about the only ways a doctor can diagnosis this psychotic disorder, there are no laboratory methods to this date.

There are two main categories when diagnosing schizophrenic behavior. This helps to narrow down the field to make the psychotic behaviors become more evident. These categories are positive and negative. In the positive area symptoms usually include delusions, hallucinations, and other thought disorders. The negative categories usually include restricted speech and diminished sociability.

There are many types of schizophrenia that are defined by certain actions and reactions.

âÂ?¢ Hebephrenic Schizophrenia: Incoherence, and “silly” actions

� Catatonic Schizophrenia: Rapid change between excitement and stupor.

� Paranoid Schizophrenia: Delusions and hallucinations with not as high of a level of disorganized speech and behavior.

� Undifferentiated Schizophrenia: These symptoms are not specific enough to include here. This is when a doctor needs to
diagnosis this as there are rarely any noticeable problems.

âÂ?¢ Residual Schizophrenia: A person having no psychotic symptoms but shows signs of social withdrawal and eccentric behaviors and has had an “episode” in the past.

There are several things a person can spot in a patient with schizophrenia. Several elements are often present either boldly or mildly but in some type of form.

� Appearance might be bizarre or off.

� Motor activity is low or non-existent and can range from catatonic stupor to rapid movement and excitement.

� Social behavior is withdrawled and disturbed.

� Low self-esteem and diminished feeling of pleasure

� Verbal, language is usually symbolic, rambling statements

� Depression: is present in almost all schizophrenic behavior

� Delusions are a defining characteristic of paranoid thought.

� Hallucinations: this includes lack of humor, panic, suicidal tendencies, etc.

If you suspect that someone you know, or is close to you, has one of these psychotic disorders, the best way is not to provoke or approach them with any of this information. You should call a trained mental professional or if one can not be found, a police officer. Because of the unstable mental condition this person can become violent and out raged and may think that you are “against them”.

Living life with these illnesses must be extremely difficult and only with proper treatment can an individual try to live a normal life by coping with everyday stress. While I do not advocate the use of drugs and would rater find an alternative to it, in some cases it is necessary.

Medical disorders often vary and are hard to live with, especially those that make you feel out of control such as the conditions outlined in this article.

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