Example Question #1 : Abnormal Psychology
Sarah alternates between periods of sadness—where she has little interest in life and low energy—and periods of excessive energy—where she has little need for sleep and engages in reckless behavior. Given what you know about her symptoms, what is Sarah's most likely diagnosis?
Generalized anxiety disorder
Borderline personality disorder
Sarah's symptoms are consistent with “bipolar disorder,” which includes alternating between periods of depression and mania. By definition, a manic episode must last at least one week and not be induced by drugs or alcohol. Even though Sarah experiences periods of “depression,” bipolar disorder is the more appropriate diagnosis due to her manic episodes. “Borderline personality disorder” includes symptoms related to instability in relationships, emotions, and self-image. “Generalized anxiety disorder” is characterized by excessive anxiety regarding a number of things that induces impaired functioning. Last, “schizophrenia” is a psychotic disorder that involves at least two of the following symptoms: hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, disorganized behavior, and emotional flattening.