AP Psychology : Defining Abnormalities and Disorders

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Depressive Disorders

If someone has had constant symptoms of depression for five years, what disorder would they most likely be diagnosed with?

Possible Answers:

Minor depressive disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Dysthymia

Bipolar disorder

Major depressive disorder

Correct answer:

Dysthymia

Explanation:

Major depressive disorder is the most common mood disorder and is characterized by a depressed mood and physical symptoms such as loss of appetite and fatigue for 2 or more weeks in the absence of a clear cause. SAD has the symptoms of major depressive disorder but the episodes occur seasonally, typically during winter. Dysthymia is similar to major depressive disorder but it is less severe and lasts longer (at least 2 years). Bipolar disorder involves episodes of both depression and mania. Minor depressive disorder is still being researched and you do not have to know it for the AP Psychology exam. 

Example Question #1 : Depressive Disorders

If someone has excessive loss of appetite and fatigue but only during the months of November through March, what might they be diagnosed with?

Possible Answers:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Bipolar disorder

Minor depressive disorder

Major depressive disorder

Dysthymic disorder

Correct answer:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Explanation:

Major depressive disorder is the most common mood disorder and is characterized by a depressed mood and physical symptoms such as loss of appetite and fatigue for 2 or more weeks in the absence of a clear cause. SAD has the symptoms of major depressive disorder but the episodes occur seasonally, typically during winter. Dysthymia is similar to major depressive disorder but it is less severe and lasts longer (at least 2 years). Bipolar disorder involves episodes of both depression and mania. Minor depressive disorder is still being researched and you do not have to know it for the AP Psychology exam.

Example Question #1 : Depressive Disorders

If someone is depressed, what kind of attributions (according to Beck's cognitive triad) might he or she make about a recent job promotion?

Possible Answers:

External, global, unstable

Internal, global, unstable

Internal, specific, unstable

External, specific, unstable

External, specific, stable

Correct answer:

External, specific, unstable

Explanation:

Beck's cognitive triad examines the explanations people make about themselves, their future, and their world. When something happens, someone can decide that it was either caused by them or caused by an external factor (internal/external), generalize the event to all events or keep it specific to the event at hand (global / specific), and decide whether he or she thinks it will continue in the future or will end soon (stable/unstable). When something good happens, such as a job promotion, someone who is depressed might believe the job promotion to be caused by luck (external), only because they are good at their job but nothing else (specific), and probably won't last long (unstable).

Example Question #1 : Depressive Disorders

If someone is depressed, what kind of attributions (according to Beck's cognitive triad) might he or she make about a recent job loss?

Possible Answers:

Internal, specific, unstable

External, global, unstable

Internal, global, stable

External, specific, unstable

External, specific, stable

Correct answer:

Internal, global, stable

Explanation:

Beck's cognitive triad examines the explanations people make about themselves, their future, and their world. When something happens, someone can decide that it was either caused by them or caused by an external factor (internal/external), generalize the event to all events or keep it specific to the event at hand (global / specific), and decide whether he or she thinks it will continue in the future or will end soon (stable/unstable). If someone is depressed and they lose their job (or something else bad happens), they are likely to assume it's their fault (internal), it characterizes the fact that they can't do anything right (global), and their luck will not change (stable). 

Example Question #11 : Depressive Disorders

Which of the following is not hypothesized as a contributing factor of depression?

Possible Answers:

Excess levels of dopamine in the brain

Learned helplessness

The cognitive triad

Genetic predisposition

Low levels of serotonin in the brain

Correct answer:

Excess levels of dopamine in the brain

Explanation:

Genetics, low serotonin, learned helplessness, and the cognitive triad are all hypothesized to be contributing factors to depression; however, excess levels of dopamine contribute to schizophrenia, not depression.

Learned helplessness is the idea that a person has learned from past experiences that they cannot control parts of their life, which can contribute to depression. Beck's cognitive triad examines the explanations people make about themselves, their future, and their world. When something happens, someone can decide that it was either caused by them or caused by an external factor (internal/external), generalize the event to all events or keep it specific to the event at hand (global / specific), and decide whether he or she thinks it will continue in the future or will end soon (stable/unstable). When someone is depressed, they tend to believe that good events are external, specific, and unstable, while bad events are internal, global, and stable.

Example Question #51 : Defining Abnormalities And Disorders

Sarah has been experiencing sadness, loss of appetite, disinterest in activities, weight loss, and insomnia for several years. Which of the following could be the reason these symptoms are occurring?

Possible Answers:

Anemia

Major depressive disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder

Anorexia

Correct answer:

Major depressive disorder

Explanation:

Sarah displays all of the classic symptoms of a major depressive disorder. The fact that her condition is long-term makes it more likely to be a major depressive disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is the persistence of a feeling of uneasiness or that something bad will occur over a long period of time, with no specific trigger. Anorexia is an eating disorder. Anemia is a decrease of oxygen in the blood.

Example Question #51 : Types Of Disorders

Which of the following is not a reason that females are twice as likely as males to experience depression?

Possible Answers:

Females face more discrimination than males

Changes in hormones make females more susceptible to depression

Females experience more stress about weight and body image than males

Women do not live as long as males

Correct answer:

Women do not live as long as males

Explanation:

Note that the question asks which answer option does not help explain the prevalence of depression in females. The correct answer is actually a false statement: on average, females have longer lives than males. This increased lifespan can result in a greater sense of loss and loneliness in old age, which can contribute to depressive symptoms in females. The other answer options are all considered plausible reasons that females experience depression more frequently than males.

Example Question #13 : Depressive Disorders

Karen is showing signs of depression. 

Which is most likely NOT a symptom that Karen is experiencing?

Possible Answers:

Inability to experience pleasure

Psychomotor retardation

Lack of motivation 

Signs of aggression

Low self-esteem

Correct answer:

Signs of aggression

Explanation:

Depression is accompanied by an overall decrease in energy, pleasure, motivation, and positive thoughts. Aggression is not a common symptom of depression.

Example Question #52 : Types Of Disorders

Sherry's cognitive behavioral therapist tends to talk with her about her general way of thinking that guides her perceptions and interpretations of events. For Sherry, this general way of thinking tends to be underlying negative beliefs and attitudes. Her therapist wants her to be able to focus on these negative thoughts and alter them to be more positive.

What does Sherry's therapist want her to work on?

Possible Answers:

Disorganized thoughts

Negativity

Delusions

Depressed schemas

Sadness

Correct answer:

Depressed schemas

Explanation:

Depressed schemas are how an individual views the world and sees events around them. They guide perceptions are tend to be negative beliefs and attitudes. In this case Sherry's therapist is focused on here "general underlying negative beliefs," which is synonymous with "depressed schemas."

Example Question #11 : Depressive Disorders

In the past two months, Ann has had very little motivation to get out of bed. She sleeps upwards of twenty hours a day and is no longer interested in activities that she used to enjoy. She has very little energy to care for herself, and also has lost a significant amount of weight. Which of the following is a likely diagnosis for Ann?

Possible Answers:

Dysthymic disorder

Major depressive episode

Major depressive disorder

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder

Correct answer:

Major depressive episode

Explanation:

Major Depressive Episode is correct, because going off of the description we do not know if Ann has had a manic episode in the past or not. In order to have Major Depressive Disorder, an individual cannot have had a manic episode in the past. The answer would not be Dysthymic Disorder, because those symptoms must persist for two years or more, and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is characterized by outbursts of severe temper in addition to depressive symptoms. 

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