PSY 240 Week 9 Final Project Analyzing Psychological Disorders

As a psychologist, one must be able to properly understand, diagnose, and treat all psychological disorders. During the interview process of any job, one must present their skills to give the employer the confidence to make a wise choice of the candidate they feel will benefit the company. Within this thesis we will be discussing the psychiatric disease of schizophrenia. The areas that are to be covered are the areas of the brain affected, causal factors, symptoms, neural basis, and appropriate drug therapy. Last I will interpret two case studies from a biopsychologist’s perspective.

Part A

Out of all of the psychological disorders, schizophrenia is the most damaging and affects nearly three million American’s. This disorder causes a person to lose all sense of reality which causes one to have delusions, hallucinations, extreme suspicion, and symptoms vary between men and women. The ages of which symptoms are experienced are late teens to early twenties in men and late twenties to early thirties for women. While those who suffer from schizophrenia may seem to make some progress in recovery, usually all will exhibit marked symptoms throughout the course of their life.

While schizophrenia is considered to be a complex brain disorder, many things contribute to the causes of this disorder. Genetics, behavioral, and developmental reasons are some of the likely causes while stress, trauma, and viral infections are also thought to be involved in this disorder. While it still is not clear why or how genetic predisposition is transmitted, suggestions of recent evidence show that this disorder may result from the neurons in the brain form inappropriate connections during fetal development (Lundbeck Institute, 2010).

Stress that is caused by a traumatic event or family situations may be a trigger which can cause this disorder to surface in those who possess a genetic predisposition. Another trigger that may play a major part is an imbalance of dopamine and serotonin that are located in the brain. The behavioral patterns that are associated with schizophrenia are thought to result from an over activity of dopamine within certain areas of the brain. The areas of the brain that are affected by this disorder are the forebrain, hindbrain, and limbic system (Lundbeck Institute, 2010).

By affecting these areas of the brain causes many causal factors. While it is still thought to be an imbalance of the chemicals, this disorder exhibits many associated symptoms. Because there are no tests that can diagnose schizophrenia, a psychologist must rely on analyzing clinical symptoms. One must pay close attention to the diagnosis due to this disorder may exhibit the same symptoms as another disorder.

The symptoms exhibited by those who have schizophrenia are hallucinations, delusions, lack of emotion, racing thoughts, incoherent thoughts, odd behaviors, and psychotic manifestations. Many who experience this disorder may hear voices or think others are out to get them. Many may believe that someone is following them with the intent to harm or think that someone is trying to deliberately poison them. Many may lose all sense of self and all sense of what reality is. These symptoms are broken down into positive or negative symptoms because of their impact of being able to properly diagnose.

In order to obtain a diagnosis of schizophrenia, one must exhibit symptoms of at least one month duration of two or more positive symptoms (reflecting an excess or distortion of one’s normal functions), unless hallucinations or delusions are extremely bizarre. In the event that this situation occurs, one symptom may suffice for a diagnosis according to the DSM-IV (manual used for the diagnosis of psychological disorders). Negative symptoms (appearing to effect a diminution or loss of normal function) such as a flat effect, are far more difficult to evaluate due to other factors such as an adaption to a persecutory delusion.

Those who suffer from this disorder can receive treatment to help suppress symptoms in order to live an ordinary and healthy life. While diagnosis is tricky, those who receive a diagnosis and treatment early in life will help to achieve the goal of being normal. First, one must obtain an accurate diagnosis in order to get correct treatment. Misdiagnosis is common due to most disorders exhibit similar symptoms.

Having success in treating this disorder depends on a life regimen that include drugs, and therapy. The medication is prescribed in order to help control and suppress the psychosis that is associated with this disorder. A combination of antipsychotic, antidepressant, anti anxiety medication is often prescribed. Many face stopping their drugs thinking that their symptoms are gone and no longer require medication. Many also stop due to side effects are to extreme to tolerate. Side effects of these medications vary but include dry mouth, constipation, and dizziness. More severe side effects include tremors, muscle spasms and cramps in the neck. Those who have been taking these drugs for a long period may experience facial ticks, lip licking, panting, and rolling of the tongue.

Those who have this disorder need to have a full support system in order to help to cope, understand, support, encourage, and be happy. Having this support will also help to encourage a life-long treatment plan and ensure that one is complying with orders. Those who experience a relapse and stop treatment will most likely result in a relapse and start to exhibit symptoms until treatment is resumed. Even though many may experience symptoms from taking these medications, one must not stop taking these drugs altogether. Dosages needs to be gradually tapered off or changed and the benefits of taking them out way the side effects.

Psychotherapy is also needed in conjunction with medication. This course of treatment is often affective to help provide additional social skills, setting goals, advice, and reassurance that many with this disorder lack. Family therapy may also be helpful to teach family members of sufferers to cope, accept, and understand someone who suffers schizophrenia.

Even though many people suffer from schizophrenia disorders, one can still lead a healthy and happy life. Early detection and treatment is crucial in order to be successful in this goal. If one is having symptoms the important thing is to seek medical attention instead of trying to self diagnose the issue.

Part B

Insomnia is having difficulty sleeping or trouble staying asleep for a period of one month. Many may experience difficulty in falling asleep, feel tired or falling asleep in the daytime, waking up several times over the course of sleep.

The first case study that I have chose is Mary, a single mother who has had difficulty sleeping for the last month. Her lack of sleep is causing her to be fatigued throughout the day which is showing to cause issues within her professional and social life. She shows no signs of alcohol or drug abuse and has been to see her personal doctor concerning her lack of sleep with no relief.

Getting to the root of Mary’s sleepless nights will help to correct the situation. Many things could be triggering Mary’s symptoms which are causing her to not be able to sleep. Finding out that is going on within her personal and professional life could give insight into why she is not sleeping. First, Mary is the mother of one child. Since limited information is given, one can assume that perhaps she is not achieving sleep due to her child. She may have to get up several times throughout the night in order to take care of her child. Second, Mary may be having difficulty at work due to the normal pressures of her workload. She may be experiencing pending layoffs, or hour reduction. Since she is a single mother, any shortage of pay may result in the lack of money and the inability to pay her bills.

Mary’s social life may also be the root of the problem. She may have recently split from her spouse or boyfriend and causes great distress to her physical and emotional state. Mary’s diet and exercise regiment are not revealed and may have an impact on her sleeping ability. Mary may not be following a well balanced diet or may experience high amounts of caffeine throughout the course of her day.

Since Mary is experiencing insomnia, she may not have a regular schedule at which she does things when she gets home from work. She may work long irregular hours which may cause for the irregularity. Many things can help in the natural resource of sleep for Mary. Avoiding caffeine may be the first thing to cut out. Since Mary is always on the go and does experience periods of fatigue she may drink high amounts of coffee, soda, or tea in order to stay awake in the daytime. Getting on a consistent schedule may also help Mary’s body to adjust back to normal.

Going to bed at the same time every night can put her body back in a sleep pattern. Having comfortable sleeping conditions and only using the bed for sleep and sex may also help. Taking a warm bath before bed may also help to get rid of stresses within her day and help her to relax. This may cause her to become more relaxed and go directly to bed afterwards without any distractions may also help. Mary should avoid thing such as TV or using a computer as these may be stimulating and interfere with Mary’s ability to fall asleep. One thing that may help her is to transfer her worries onto paper by listing everything that is on her mind. By doing so may help her mind to be at ease and tire her out to be able to go to sleep.

After following these suggestions Mary should be able to practice good sleep habits once again. If Mary is still exhibiting symptoms of insomnia after trying to correct the issues then she needs to return to her doctor with the list of everything tried and take the course of action in a different direction.

The next case study that I have chosen is Beth, the teenager that has been experiencing fear of gaining weight and is growing dangerously thin. She has missed several periods and restricts her food intake. Her parents have grown increasingly concerned and do not know how to help their daughter.

Anorexia is a condition that is classified by the extreme fear of becoming fat and the pursuit of becoming thin. Those who experience this condition go to great lengths to achieve and maintain a low body weight. The more weight that one looses the more obsessed one becomes with food, dieting, and weight loss ( Those who become obsessed with dieting can lead to developing anorexia.

Many things contribute to having this disorder. For many who suffer from this, starvation is a way to feel in control. In Beth’s case, she grew up in a normal home with no signs of experiencing problems. Her case may be that of many others, poor self-esteem and poor self-image. She may look among her peer and see that she is heavier or not as desirable. Like so many others, Beth may feel that if she is thinner she will gain the desired image and feel good about herself. Beth does not realize that no matter how much weight she loses will ever repair the damage that she is causing to her herself emotionally and physically.

There are many things that are to blame for anorexia. The most common is the fixation that society has placed on being “perfect”. Social and cultural pressures are often to blame and can often be brought on by puberty, activity participation such as ballet, gymnastics, or modeling.

Beth is also starting to experience physical signs of anorexia. She is not having a period and may also be experiencing other signs as well. Others symptoms exhibited may be dizziness, insomnia, anemia, abdominal pain, yellowish skin, and headaches ( Over time anorexia can cause extreme damage to the organs, infertility, hair loss, heart problems, kidney damage, and death.

Even though the consequences of anorexia can become devastating, anorexia can be treated and cured. Beth’s parents need to start her off in a treatment facility that specializes in eating disorders. This will help to ensure that she will regain a healthy weight, receiving psychological help related to her disorder, and reducing and eliminating those behaviors associated with anorexia in order to avoid a relapse ( Providing nutritional therapy is also crucial to ensure the teaching of healthy eating and proper nutrition in order to maintain a healthy weight. Therapy is also a part of recovery in order to stay healthy.

As one can see, many things contribute to the knowledge and understanding of what psychological disorders are and how to treat them. Entry within your company would allow me to not only utilize my skills and knowledge to benefit the patients but also to obtain additional information to further my career within this company. I take psychology very seriously and know I will be an asset to this company. Thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon.


Franklin, D. (2003). Psychology Information Online. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from (2010). Anorexia Nervosa. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from

Lundbeck Institute (2010). Schizophrenia. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from

Mayo (2008). Schizophrenia. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from…/P-S/…/DSECTION=symptoms

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (2010). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from

Pinel, J.P.J. (2007). Basics of biopsychology. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

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