Discussion: Psychological Disorders
If you break your arm or have a sore throat, you can go to your doctor’s office and find out what is wrong. It may require an x-ray or a throat swab, but you will receive a diagnosis and a treatment plan. For a broken arm, the treatment is straightforward: a cast. For a sore throat, it is more complicated because there are many possible causes. It might be strep throat, which you would treat with an antibiotic. It could be postnasal drip from allergies, which you would treat with an allergy medication. It may even be because you were shouting too much at the concert last night, which you treat with time. The right treatment depends on the right diagnosis.
In the case of psychological disorders, there is no easy way to identify that right diagnosis. Despite our increasing understanding of the biological basis of disorders, there is currently no physiological measure (blood test, brain scan, genetic test, etc.) that can be used to diagnose these disorders. Instead, all diagnoses for psychological disorders are based on the symptoms that are reported by the patient and observations from others.
This week, you will explore what is involved in diagnosing one of the disorders covered in the textbook (depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, PTSD, or schizophrenia). You will review the diagnostic criteria in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM–5) and, based on what you have learned about the biological basis of these disorders, propose how you would improve the diagnosis of these disorders. As an interesting historical note, one of the controversies with DSM-5 was that it takes a very long time to update the diagnosis and understanding of all the disorders that are included in the book. (The previous version of the DSM, DSM–IV, was published in 1994 and revised in 2000). It was suggested that there could be an online version of the DSM–5 that would be used in a research setting and could be updated much more regularly as a greater understanding of the brain basis of these disorders emerged. It was to be called the DSM–5R (for Research), but this idea was never enacted.
To prepare for this Discussion:
Select a specific disorder from those covered in Brain and Behavior and review information about the biological causes, symptoms, and treatment of that disorder.
Consult the web links provided for each of the disorders covered by the text to identify the DSM diagnostic criteria for the condition.
Reference the Learning Resources to understand how the condition is diagnosed and what is known about the biological basis of this condition.
With these thoughts in mind:
Post a description of the disorder you chose, including the biological features that are typically observed, such as changes in brain activity level, differences in brain structure, or abnormalities in neurotransmitters. Then describe how disorders are diagnosed in general by the DSM and the specific criteria used to diagnose your chosen disorder. Is there any relationship between the way the textbook describes the disorder and the way the DSM describes the disorder? Finally, based on the biological information in the textbook and what you know of the DSM-5R project, propose and write a new set of diagnostic criteria that incorporates the biological information discussed in the textbook. This should be 1–2 paragraphs and it should summarize what you think are the most important biological factors (brain regions, neurotransmitters, or genes) that are associated with your chosen condition. Finally, discuss why you think that this is not already included in the DSM.
Support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources and any additional sources you identify using both in-text citations and complete references in APA format.
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