Psychological illnesses are conditions affecting people’s thinking, feeling, and behavior. They can cause significant distress or impairment to one’s daily life. They can be chronic, recurrent, or a one-time occurrence. Signs and symptoms vary according to the disorder and are often best diagnosed by a mental health professional.
Research on psychological illness has expanded greatly over the years. Advances in genetics and neuroscience have helped expand our understanding of psychological disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other psychotherapies have been developed over the past several decades. New criteria-based classifications have been adopted by the DSM and ICD. The number of “official” diagnoses has increased significantly, and SSRI-type antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs have become widespread.
Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic brain disorder that has plagued mankind for millennia. This disorder causes a person to experience hallucinations that are based on unreal experiences. The symptoms of schizophrenia vary from individual to individual. Some people experience schizophrenia for only a short period of time while others experience it for a lifetime.
The DSM-5 is a widely used manual for diagnosing psychological illnesses. It provides detailed descriptions of each disorder and describes treatment options for each. However, it is difficult to distinguish between different psychological illnesses due to the wide range of symptoms. While the DSM is a good source for information about a variety of conditions, it may be too general to address the specific issues of a patient.
The RDoC framework proposes that the underlying abnormalities in a person’s brain, which then results in observable patterns of different psychological illnesses. It uses several levels of analysis, including molecular, brain circuit, symptom level, and behavioral, in order to define what constitutes a mental disorder.
In the early practice of psychiatry, many practitioners relied on clinical judgments and speculative theories about the etiology of psychological disorders. However, the introduction of operational diagnostics helped de-mystify these practices. In this approach, a clinical feature should be defined, observed, and measured in a neutral and non-biased way, regardless of the assessor’s subjective assessment. Ultimately, the most important breakthrough in the classification of mental disorders has been the understanding that psychological disorders are caused by malfunctions in the brain.
The DSM also lists developmental disorders such as conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In addition to these, it includes psychotic disorders. Many popular labels for these disorders are related to developmental disorders. Some researchers believe that psychological disorders are a mixture of biological, psychological, and social factors.
Historically, mental disorders have been characterized by different names in different cultures. Some of these were given religious or spiritual meanings by ancient cultures. In ancient Mesopotamia, for example, some mental disorders were named after particular deities. The “hands” of the deity were often attributed to specific deities, such as Qat Ishtar, Qat Shamash, or Qat God.