Components of Psychological Disorders


Overview of psychological disorders

Over the last couple of years, psychological disorders have gained popularity in the fields of psychology and mental health. Psychological disorders involve abnormal behavioral or psychological patterns associated with distress or disability. Such psychological patterns tend to go against normal development. Psychological disorders are also considered as disorders of brain circuits normally associated with developmental process. They are believed to result from complex relationship between genetics and life experience.

The rate of increase in psychological disorders over the last couple of years has been a source of great concern to researchers and scholars in the medical field.The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that about 26% of people above18 years in America suffer from at least one type of psychological disorder. A survey conducted in 1994 by the National Co morbidity Survey showed that 30 percent of participants had experienced at least of one psychological disorder. Such studies and common observation of increase in individuals with psychological challenges calls for more attention on the subject.

This essay seeks to enlist and analyze the various components of psychological disorders such as anxiety, mood and dissociative/somatoform disorders. The essay will cover the biological, emotional, cognitive, and the behavioral components of these disorders in-depth.

Components of Psychological Disorders


Anxiety is a form of human sensation that manifests itself as a general feeling of nervousness about a possible danger (Johnson & Johnson, 2000, p.8). This feeling that is experienced by nearly all human beings but it can only be classified as a disorder when it becomes overwhelming and chronic. Like most other human emotions, anxiety composed of three elements; Biological or physiological; Cognitive or subjective; and Behavioral. The symptoms of anxiety may include sweating, rapid heart beats, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness, among others.

The cognitive components of anxiety are internal and in order for a psychologist to diagnose them, he/she must rely on the victims’ report and experiences. These experiences include instances of fear of death or humiliation, worry, and dread. They may also include tense feelings which in most cases, tend to be unreal. In addition, there is the tendency for an individual to experience a continuous feeling that something dreadful is about to happen.

Behavioral components can be easily observed from outside while relying on a patients’ reports and experiences. These include observable cases of pacing or increased speed, volume, and the intensity of speech. Patients can be easily startled and they can be seen trying to avoid those situations perceived as threatening as they try to reduce anxiety. As a result of these avoidance behaviors, the victims may be fearful of wide open spaces and huge crowds and therefore try as much as possible to avoid the possibilities of being in an open and a crowded place and decide to stay at home. These may then have both occupational and social consequences on the patient.

The biological components of anxiety are associated with the Autonomic nervous system. The system is divided into two branches; the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The former is charged with the responsibility of arousal while the latter is involved in slowing down most physiological functions in the body (Mclean & Woody, 2001, p.44). The neural circuitry (it consists of the amygdale and hippocampus) is considered to be responsible for anxiety. When confronted with an unpleasant situation, there is an observable increase in blood flow in the amygdale and moderate anxiety. Anxiety is thus normal protective mechanism that warns an organism against getting involved in potentially harmful behavior.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders have been reported to be among the most common forms of mental health disorders in the United States. Mood disorder patients are said to suffer from extremes in emotions which may range from a simple mania to deep cases of depression (Johnson & Johnson, 2000, p.18). The biological components of mood are associated with chemical imbalances in the patients’ body. These chemicals (known as neurotransmitters) are involved in the transmission of signals through the body’s nervous system. When the chemicals are depleted, many people experience sadness, depression, anxiety among many other mood problems. Thus correction of the chemical imbalance will serve to resolve the mood disorders.

The emotional components of mood are very important to mental health. The relationship between mood and cognition is determined by both the trait and state of the patients (Marvel & Paradiso, 2008, para.4). This encompasses the prolonged disturbances of personality functions in a person. These are distinguished by abnormal instability in mood, unstable and sometimes chaotic interpersonal relationships, black and white thinking and disturbances is how an individual views himself among other abnormal mood patterns.

Dissociative disorders/ Somatoform disorders

These disorders consist of conditions that involve breakdown or disturbance of memory, perception, awareness or identity. Upon a disruption of any of the functions, the general functioning of an individual could be affected. This can indirectly affect the way we develop into adulthood. Learning can be defined as the process leading to relatively or permanent behavioral change. As we learn, our perception of the environment and our interpretation of stimuli change and consequently affecting our behavior and interaction.

Unfortunately, patients diagnosed with dissociative disorders demonstrate a variety of symptoms with wide fluctuations such as multiple mannerism, attitude and beliefs. Headaches and pains, distortion and loss of subjective time, co morbidity, depersonalization, severe memory loss and frequent panic or anxiety attacks among other interpersonal disorders.


From the above discussion, it is important to note that psychological disorders are brought about by different contributing or disposing factors. Therefore, in psychotherapy, one needs to fully understand the major contributing factors to the patients’ condition charging from the report and the history of experiences provided by the patient.


  1. Johnson, B.W. & Johnson, W. L. (2000). The pastor’s guide to psychological disorders and treatments. Binghamton: The Haworth Pastoral Press. Web.
  2. Marvel, C. L. & Paradiso, S. (2008). Cognitive and neurological impairment in mood disorders. Rockville Pike: U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web.
  3. McLean, P.D. & Woody, S.R. (2001). Anxiety disorders in adults: an evidence-based approach to psychological treatment. New York: Oxford University Press. Web.
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