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Understanding the Differences from Emotions, Anxiety, Mood and Disassociation in Abnormal Psychology

Updated on January 24, 2013

Anxiety, Mood and Disassociation

The extreme nature of anxiety, mood and disassociative disorders are what makes these otherwise natural human responses abnormal.
The extreme nature of anxiety, mood and disassociative disorders are what makes these otherwise natural human responses abnormal. | Source

Anxiety Mood and Disassociation

Anxiety, fluctuations in mood and disassociation are all within the spectrum of normal human behavior. There are healthy levels of anxiety which all people experience throughout the course of their lives. Fluctuations in mood are also a normal part of the human experience. Disassociation, the ability to separate one's consciousness from either physical or situational experiences, is widely accepted as a normal and healthy phenomenon for athletes and people who have been physically injured (Hansell & Damour, 2008). When anxiety, mood fluctuations and disassociation occur to extreme degrees and interfere with an individual's ability to function and live a normal and healthy life is the point at which these normal behaviors are considered to be abnormal.

Anxiety Disorder

This chart shows the emotional, cognitive, and physical traits associated with Anxiety Disorders.
This chart shows the emotional, cognitive, and physical traits associated with Anxiety Disorders. | Source

Anxiety

Anxiety is divided into six different classifications depending on the severity and the scope of the anxiety experienced (Hansell & Damour, 2008).These classifications include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress and acute stress disorder (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Each form of anxiety is characterized by nervousness, fright and irritability (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Generalized anxiety disorder is chronic nervousness which causes a person to feel distressed and impairs their ability to function normally (Hansell & Damour, 2008; Kasper, 2006). According to Kasper (2006) “more than one in 20 people (5.7%) will be diagnosed with GAD during their lifetime” (p. 4). Panic disorders are sudden and intense moments where people are filled with extreme terror (Hansell & Damour, 2008; Kasper, 2006). According to Hansell and Damour (2008) panic attacks are moments “in which they feel overwhelmed by anxiety and have a strong urge to escape or get help” (p. 120). Phobias are disorders in which the individual experiences intense fear and discomfort in association to a specific object or situation (Hansell & Damour, 2008; Kasper, 2006). Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a form of anxiety where fear and worry is linked to certain thoughts which the individual obsesses over and ritualized and often repetitive behavior which seems to ease the troublesome thoughts (Hansell & Damour, 2008; Kasper, 2006). Post-traumatic stress and acute stress disorder occur as the result of a traumatic experience (Hansell & Damour, 2008; Kasper, 2006). The difference between post-traumatic and acute stress disorders is that acute stress disorder last less than a month whereas post-traumatic stress disorder lingers for more than a month or may not be felt until a month prior to the traumatic experience (Hansell & Damour, 2008).



Mood Disorders

This chart shows the emotional, cognitive, behavioral and physical aspects of mood disorders.
This chart shows the emotional, cognitive, behavioral and physical aspects of mood disorders. | Source

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are divided into five categories. An individual has major depressive disorder when they have experienced one or more major depressive episodes (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Dysthymic disorder is not as severe as major depressive disorder but tends to occur over a longer period of time (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Bipolar I and bipolar II disorders are a fluctuation between major depressive episodes and manic or hypomanic episodes, respectively (Hansell & Damour, 2008; Feldman, 2010). Bipolar disorders are like states of depression which are occasionally punctuated with moments of mania (Hansell & Damour, 2008; Feldman, 2010). According to Feldman (2010) “people experiencing mania feel intense happiness, power, invulnerability, and energy” (Mania and Bipolar Disorder, para. 1). Feldman (2010) explains that people experiencing mania “become involved in wild schemes, believing they will succeed at anything they attempt” (Mania and Bipolar Disorder, para. 1). Cyclothymic disorder occurs for a longer period of time but is less severe than bipolar I and II disorders (Hansell & Damour, 2008).

Dissassociative Disorders

This chart shows the emotional, cognitive, behavioral and physical aspects associated with Dissassociative Disorders
This chart shows the emotional, cognitive, behavioral and physical aspects associated with Dissassociative Disorders | Source

Dissassociation

Disassociative disorders are the result of emotionally traumatic experiences (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Disassociation can be seen as the division or interruption of consciousness (Hansell & Damour, 2008). If consciousness were viewed as a river, disassociation can be seen as a momentary or prolonged diverging of all or part of the flow of the river's current. There are different forms of disassociation. Depersonalization disorder occurs when an individual feels detached either from their body or from their cognitive functions or both (Hansell & Damour, 2008). People with depersonalization disorder understand the difference between what is real and what isn't but he or she may feel that their life is in some way unreal (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Disassociative amnesia is a non-biological loss of memory (Hansell & Damour, 2008). There are several forms of disassociative amnesia ranging from the momentary loss of the memory of a period of time to the inability to remember an entire lifetime (Hansell & Damour, 2008). These forms of amnesia are distinct in that they are not the result of physical injury or illness but are the result of psychological stress caused by emotionally traumatic experiences (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Disassociate fugue is a form of disassociative amnesia in which the individual also leaves their home, travels to another location and assumes a new identity but generally only lasts for a few days (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Disassociative identity disorder is the presence of more than one identity or personality within within the same person and where more than one identity recurrently controls the individual's behavior (Hansell & Damour, 2008).

Conclusions

The extreme nature of anxiety, mood and disassociative disorders are what makes these otherwise natural human responses abnormal. Anxiety is a naturally occurring sensation in every person's life. Changes in mood are a universal part of the human experience. Disassociation in mild forms is a natural and common experience. When these things occur in extreme forms they become abnormal psychological disorders that interrupt and impair an individual's normal functioning and ability to live a healthy life.

References

Feldman, R. (2010). Psychology and Your Life. Retrieved from the University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.

Hansell, J and Damour, L (2008). Abnormal Psychology (2nd ed.). Retrieved from the University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.

Kasper, S. (2006). Anxiety disorders: under-diagnosed and insufficiently treated. International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice, 103-9. doi:10.1080/13651500600552297

Copyright Notice

© Copyright 2012. Wesley Meacham- This article is copyright protected and is the property of Wesley Meacham. All images in this article, unless otherwise stated, are the property of Wesley Meacham. Please do not copy this article in whole or in part without giving credit to the original author.

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      Musa 2 years ago

      Thank you so much! It is you who inspires me. Nine years of soriteby. What courage and tenacity you have! Your work does not go unrecognized! Maintaining and managing a true sense of self takes an incredible amount of strength and perseverance. It is a full time job. Thank you for inspiring all those around you by being a true warrior.

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      Phire 2 years ago

      This is so beautifully wettirn and honest. The content really resonates with me, being that I went through anorexia as a teenager. I,too, still battle with the aftermath and know that anorexia was only a symptom of the real problem.

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