psychology

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Psychological Disorders and How They Affect the Brain

The human brain is more than a mass encased in its protective shell of the skull. It is the main organ that controls all our thoughts, actions, perceptions, senses, memory, etc. The brain consists of several neurons which are interconnected and send signals to other parts of the body at the speed of a flash communicating information from within the body’s system as well the environmental surroundings around us and translating them into thoughts or actions. The human brain is a complex part of the human body and any disorder or malfunctioning of even one side or part of the brain can greatly affect the quality of human life. If the connection of the optic nerve to the brain is cut off, a person becomes blind, if the part of brain where all our long-term memories, thoughts and ideas are stored is hampered, individuals might suffer from diseases like Alzheimer’s or a complete memory loss, losing their very identity. Any psychological disorder or mental illness that affects the behavioral pattern and emotions of a human being can also greatly affect that person and the way they choose to live, their interaction with their families and friends and their interactions with the society at large. Schizophrenia is one of the most widely recognized and commonly observed psychological disorder, which affects human beings and their nervous system.

Schizophrenia is a psychological disorder affecting the nervous system of the human body. It is often considered chronic in nature and leads to disability (Gupta & Kulhara, 2010) due to the fact that patients affected by Schizophrenia are unable to distinguish between fact and fiction as their brain produces images of subjects not existing in real life.

Due to this, patients suffering from Schizophrenia are not able to express themselves effectively and are subject to hallucinations and an imaginary world.

Since the human brain is a complex system of neurons exchanging and storing information every second, each part of the brain performs specific functions. In patients suffering from Schizophrenia, the parts of the brain that are affected consist of the forebrain, hindbrain and the limbic system. These three parts consist of specific functions which are affected when Schizophrenia affects the brain. The forebrain is a regulator of controlling the cognitive process in the human mind which includes processes like thinking, information, judgments, hunger, sleep and perceptions, etc. When the frontal lobe of the forebrain is affected by Schizophrenia, the patient starts showing symptoms of auditory and visual hallucinations.

When the hindbrain which controls the motor activity in humans is affected by Schizophrenia, the symptoms are visible in the form of decreased reaction to the environmental stimuli, confused body movement and rigid postures. Lastly, the limbic system which is the innermost component of the human brain controls the emotions, memories and sexual behavior in a human being. This part shows decreased interaction in social circles by the patient and disorganized behavior due to Schizophrenia (Mendenhall, 2010)

Schizophrenia is caused by aberrant neurodevelopment in the human brain. Schizophrenia onset is commonly noticed during early adulthood, making it plausible to conclude that it is caused by aberrant neurodevelopment. There is a derangement in an orderly development of the central nervous system. The period of active operation is static and the behavioral consequences remain largely latent (Venkatasubramanian, 2007).

Symptoms generally include hallucinations, delusions, talking nonsense or exhibiting aggressive behavior (Dow, n.d)

Usually shock therapy has been relied upon as a cure for schizophrenic patients. It may be given upto two to three times in a week depending on the severity of the condition. Drug therapy in schizophrenia consists of first generation antipsychotics (Haldol) to end hallucinations. Second generation antipsychotics (Risperdal) are also prescribed. A combination of anticonvulsant and antidepressant medications may also be prescribed to treat schizophrenia (WebMD, 2008)

The first case study about Anorexia about a child named Stephanie is a case of how teenagers due to peer pressure in their teenage years tend to develop a perception of them that influences their lifestyle and overall well-being. In Stephanie’s case, even though she was brought up in a well rounded family and environment, the fear of being overweight, even though baseless became her obsession. This obsession and wrong perceptions with her body weight has put her life at stake as she has stopped taking proper intake of food to maintain a healthy and nutritious lifestyle leading her to become dangerously thin. This has also taken its toll on other bodily functions such as skipped menstrual cycles and her weight continues to drop leaving her parents concerned for the well-being of their child. This obsession of Stephanie with her weight is completely nurture based since the environmental factors explain the current behavior Stephanie is engaging in. She may be facing pressures from peers, taking fashion divas and models on TV channels sporting a size two as her role models and also lack of self-esteem to accept her-self as she is instead of trying to be someone else. All these factors have led Stephanie to develop a behavior that is compulsive towards losing more and more weight even at the cost of remaining healthy and happy. Anorexia can be fatal and may require hospitalization or intravenous feeding incase of weight dropping 30% below expected weight. Research has shown that psychotherapy along with behavioral therapy yields three times more results than just pharmacotherapy indicating that patients need to go through lifestyle changing therapy sessions rather than complete reliance on drug therapy for weight gain (Okamoto et al, 2002) Tryptophan, a dietary supplement and fluoxetine were prescribed to anorexic patients to go along with other kinds of therapy in helping them gain back their expected weight.

The second case of Richard, who seems to have a stable life but is facing from an anxiety disorder, is another case of nurture as well as nature playing a role in development and display of such behavior. He is suffering from general anxiety disorder where a patient worries too much or takes excessive tension about future events always keeping a pessimistic outlook for their life. They are always anticipating bad things to happen to them in any area of their life concerning money health, job family, etc. This behavior is evident from Richard where he was worried without any reason about his health and went to the doctor for medical advice. The causes for this order can range from several such as stressful or particularly bad personal experiences, family background or other biological factors (Anxiety Disorders Association of America, n.d) In case of severity of this order patients can have a difficult time performing even the basic activities of their daily life as is evident in case of Richard that he has trouble communicating and even sleeping and experiences hot flashes. Techniques for overcoming this order include cognitive and behavioral therapy practices such as yoga, meditation and other relaxing therapies to overcome this disorder. As for drug therapy Ativan, BuSpar, Zoloft, Valium, etc are generally prescribed by health professionals for controlling anxiety (HealthCentral, n.d)

Thus, in the end Schizophrenia is a psychological disorder affecting various parts of the human brain. The symptoms include reduced motor actions and sensory perceptions causing hallucinations in the patient and inability to differentiate between fact and fiction. Drug therapies for schizophrenia include. Also, the above two case studies of an anorexic patient Stephanie and anxiety disorder patient Richard highlight these two common problems persistent in our population of ages 20 and above. To overcome these disorders drug as well as behavioral therapy should be put in practice to yield maximum results.


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