Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Top 10 'Crazy' Mental Disorders

After yesterdays blog post looking at the Stockholm Syndrome it got me wondering what the top 10 strangest mental disorders out there were considered to be. I found a few lists on the web but after some consideration I decided on this one, taken from the article at http://www.toptenz.net/ By Alexandria V. Resnica, which takes its information from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (the bible of mental disorders). Read the full article.


10. Type One Bipolar Disorder
What It Is
Bipolar disorder makes an individual switch between two main moods: mania (emotions like happiness and anger) and depression (emotions like sadness and guilt).  Unlike the media interpretation, Bipolar disorder’s mood swings actually take a long time.  Each swing lasts about a week on average, with a few days’ transition in between.  Bipolar has been known to cause psychosis in some patients, but for the most part it manifests in irrational actions, heightened emotions, and lack of sleep during mania; and tiredness, aches, and lethargy during depression.  Patients often have very little self control and are at the mercy of their moods.
How It Fits
2.6% of the adult population is bipolar.  The disorder is genetic, and is generally easy to treat with medications.  In some cases therapy isn’t needed.  The biggest risk is unmedicated patients, who are often a harm to themselves (unmedicated bipolar disorder has a 25% suicide rate) and sometimes to those around them.


9. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
What It Is
OCD is another widely known disorder, but few understand it.  Firstly, OCD isn’t an obsession with cleanliness.  It can manifest in being clean, but that’s only one aspect.  Obsessive-Compulsive patients are often plagued with recurring thoughts, worries, and fears that can only be relieved by repeating tasks (cleaning, touching surfaces, making noises, etc.)  Obsessive-Compulsive individuals can realize their fears are unreasonable, but the anxiety will keep mounting unless they relieve them by their repetitive tasks.
How It Fits
1% of adults have OCD.  Psychiatrists haven’t figured out the cause of OCD yet, some think it may be caused by environments, others by chemicals in the brain.  The treatment varies per patient, but is generally manageable through psychotherapy and certain medications.  OCD patients are not really dangerous to others, but their lives can be difficult and their behaviors may seem odd.


8. Factitious Disorder
What It Is
Factitious Disorder is an obsession with being sick.  Unlike hypochondria, in which patients actually think they are ill, individuals with Factitious Disorder intentionally make themselves sick or play sick for attention.  They often tell elaborate stories about medical complications, visit hospitals, tamper with their medications, and inflict harm upon themselves for attention.
How It Fits
Factitious Disorder is rare in adults, and occurs in less than .5% of the population.  The disorder stems from past trauma.  There is no cure or treatment for the disorder, though therapy can be effective in limiting the behavior.  Most individuals with the disorder are not receptive to treatment. (Linked to this would be Munchausen Syndrome where sometimes people will make their own children sick in order to receive sympathy).


7. Schizoaffective Disorder
What It Is
Schizoaffective Disorder is a bizarre combination of severe Bipolar Disorder and mild Schizophrenia.  Patients will have manic and depressive mood swings, and, as a third swing, will lose touch with reality.  Most often, Schizoaffective patients will experience low emotional responses in the third, psychotic phase.  They can become delusional, and sometimes may hallucinate.  The psychotic swing is mild in comparison to most psychotic disorders, however, and can often go unnoticed, leading to a misdiagnosis of severe Type One Bipolar.
How It Fits
.5% of Americans have Schizoaffective Disorder.  Psychiatrists believe the disorder is genetic and chemical.  The disorder is relatively easy to treat with combinations of medicines.  Most people with the disorder can function normally in society as long as they are medicated.  Like Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder has a very high suicide rate when untreated.


6. Depersonalization Disorder
What It Is
Depersonalization Disorder gives individuals a sense that they are not in their body.  Individuals will feel like they aren’t their physical self, or that their life is some sort of movie or dream.  They struggle to form connections with people because they don’t feel as if anything is real.  They have the ability to logically know they are ill, but cannot shake the feeling of detachment.
How It Fits
Depersonalization is also very rare, effecting less than .5% of the population.  It is caused by traumatic events.  The reason depersonalization is so “crazy” is because treatment appears to have little effect. Some people will feel detached from reality for the rest of their life after a traumatic event.


5. Trichotillomania
What It Is
Possibly one of the most physically disruptive disorders, Trichotillomania is an obsession with pulling out hair.  Individuals with this disorder will constantly pull out body hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes.   Patients get overwhelming urges to pull at their hair, only reaching relief when they’ve done it.  Individuals will go to great lengths to hide their bald spots, but for some the disorder becomes too bad to cover up.
How It Fits
Trichotillomania is also very rare.  No one knows what causes it, but it is possible to overcome through therapy.  Some cases benefit from medication.  People who have the disorder may be feared because of their appearance, and it’s not uncommon for them to be featured on daytime talk shows.


4. Specific Phobia
What It Is
Most people think a phobia is just an unease or mild fear of an object; actually, a phobia is an unmanageable terror of everyday things.  There are many subcategories and specific names for different Phobias, but they all fall under the same disorder.  Phobic individuals will go to extreme lengths to avoid their unreasonable fears.  They can experience physical symptoms such as racing pulses and strained breathing if exposed to their fear.
How It Fits
Phobias are incredibly common, effecting 8.7% of people.  They are caused by traumatic childhood events- most of the time patients can’t remember the event.  The most common techniques for treating phobias are exposure therapy (in which the patient must confront their fear slowly and with the guidance of a psychiatric professional) and hypnotherapy (which helps patients to remember the cause of the fear).  Patients are able to recover, and even untreated patients may blend in to normal society.


3. Antisocial Behaviour Disorder
What It Is
Amongst the most basic, common, but dangerous disorders, antisocial disorder is also known as sociopathy and psychopathy.  Individuals with this disorder either have no empathy, leading to no morals, or no emotion at all.  The ones who have emotion, but no empathy, are extremely dangerous.  They make excellent liars, are often charismatic, and feel no remorse for any harm they cause anyone.  Their brains simply can’t make the connections to evoke empathy.  Because of this, they can do terrible things without a care.  As you might imagine, most Antisocial patients become involved in crime.  A majority of serial killers have been diagnosed with this disorder.   Some individuals, especially the emotionless ones, are able to fit in to society without causing any harm, but can never relate to people on the same level normal individuals can.
How It Fits
1% of Americans have Antisocial Personality Disorder, but only 50% are treated.  A majority of people with the disorder end up involved in crime (or politics!).  There is no cure for the disorder, and the only treatment for it is to teach the patients to act normal, although they’ll still never be able to grasp ethics or even emotion.


2. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
What It Is
DID, formerly Multiple Personality Disorder, is a very severe disorder caused by severe trauma.  An individual with this disorder will split his/her personality into two or three different identities (sometimes many more - 17 personalities has even been recorded) and cycle between them.  A 50 year old man may think he’s a 6 year old girl, and spend his time playing with dolls and wearing dresses.  This disorder has also had a lot of media coverage but is very misunderstood.  Persons with this disorder may switch identities at any point, sometimes staying an identity for years, sometimes for hours. (The film Sybil was based on this disorder).
How It Fits
This disorder is also very rare.  It can only be found in about .1% of Americans.  There are no medications to fix the disorder, but hypnotherapy can be useful in merging the identities.  Patients cannot live in normal society unless they have gone through extensive therapy and their identities have been merged.  Otherwise, they live in psychiatric institutions or they are constantly cared for by family and friends.


1. Schizophrenia
What It Is
Schizophrenia, in short, is a loss of reality.  Symptoms include inappropriate (or few) emotions, paranoia, obsession with media, false beliefs about the body, beliefs of being famous or powerful, auditory and visual hallucinations, and catatonia (a completely unaware and unresponsive state).  Unmedicated schizophrenics can’t tell what is in their head and what is real, leading them to act strangely.  There are different levels in the loss of reality, some are able to function normally for short periods of time.
How It Fits
For such a severe disorder, a giant 1% of Americans have it.  This means that for every 100 people, one is schizophrenic.  Schizophrenia is very genetic, and is often treatable with medication.  Most medicated Schizophrenics are able to function completely normally, as long as they take medication every day.  The disorder will never go away and skipping just one day of medication can jeopardize the patient’s sanity.  The crime rates of schizophrenics are actually not as high as other disorders, but the individuals are much more troubled and much farther from reality (although this could well be different for schizophrenics who abuse drugs/alcohol which reportedly makes their condition worsen severely).


So what do you think of this list? Is there something not included that should be in there?

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