How Crazy Can Psychiatry Really Get?

When we think about psychiatric disorders, usually one word comes to our minds: Crazy!

From the madly rushing lunatics to the mellow social outcasts, psychiatric patients are a part of a field that encompasses a wide range of neuropsychological disorders. While conditions such as schizophrenia are commonly used words among the general population, the distinguishing features of these ailments are often overlooked. Rather than focusing on the physiological aspect of disease etiology and pathophysiology, let’s make an attempt to get a hands-on view of this intriguing field of medicine.

Here are three of the most common psychiatric disorders with a focus on their individual clinical features:

1.     Schizophrenia

Literally speaking, schizophrenia means “splitting of the mind.” It is a disorder that results in the splitting of thoughts in the affected individual’s brain, resulting in an inability to maintain a clear train of thought. Some of the clinical hallmarks of the disorder include:

A)   Primarily auditory hallucinations (possible visual hallucinations)

B)   Forming illogical associations (such as “the foot I put out the door will determine whether or not it will rain today”)

C)   Social decline and isolation (inability to hold a stable position in society)

D)   Negative symptoms (lack of normal functioning abilities, such as clear communication with others)

E)    Positive symptoms (characteristics that add to the neurological functioning of a normal individual in order to affect thought processes; these include features such as hallucinations)

Wikimedia Commons | Sergejpinka

Wikimedia Commons | Sergejpinka

2.     Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (also known as Manic Depressive disorder) is an intriguing condition that consists of two different parts, a manic phase and a depressive phase. The patient affected by this ailment is in a limbo between almost two different identities in his life, struggling to achieve a balanced, normal survival.

A)   Manic phase consists of overexcited, reckless behavior (such as spending money extravagantly, promiscuity, adrenaline rush, etc.)

B)   Depressive phase entails the patient remaining in isolation experiencing an incredible low accompanied by characteristics such as decreased appetite and urges to do any tasks

C)   The phases of bipolar disorder are episodic, occurring with variable frequency

Wikimedia Commons | Karppinen

Wikimedia Commons | Karppinen

 

Wikimedia Commons | Lenore

Wikimedia Commons | Lenore

Two different pictures of Debra Lafave, a bipolar disorder patient, showing two different phases of mania and depression that are present in these patients.

3.     Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

It is truly an incomplete conversation to talk about psychiatric disorders without describing OCD, which is a condition that is classically characterized as patients possessing obsessions, which are consuming thoughts, and compulsions, which are actions that these patients believe they are bound to perform.

A)   Obsessions and compulsions are repetitive processes that patients perform

B)   Patient can have only obsessions, only compulsions, or both simultaneously (one of the most common compulsions is repeated “hand-washing”)

C)   OCD patients believe that the repetition of a thought or action a certain set number of times will affect the future outcome of an event

D)   These individuals are able to control their actions, but they feel an increasing anxiety that needs to be released by conducting the repetitive behavior

E)    Patients are aware of their condition, but still cannot do much to control their behavior due to the unique pathophysiology of OCD

Wikimedia Commons | Tapaspapa

Wikimedia Commons | Tapaspapa

This is something that an OCD patient would be instigated to do in an effort to organize and affect a future outcome.

These three disorders present merely a brief introduction into Clinical Psychiatry, which is an exciting and evolving field that encompasses the pathophysiology of quite interesting medical conditions. Take the first step and delve into the field, exploring its various aspects and attempting to understand a unique part of our existence!

 

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons | Skagedal

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Yash Pandya

Yash Pandya is a science writer at The "Almost" Doctor's Channel. He is a rising third-year student at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Emergency Medicine with minors in Neuroscience and Chemistry. Yash plans on attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Fall 2016 with guaranteed admission. In addition to the usual humdrum of academic involvement, Yash loves to play Ping Pong, catch up on the latest "Big Bang Theory," and travel. Having lived in India for half his lifetime, Yash aspires to expand his horizons into international healthcare by practicing medicine globally.