MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Types of Psychological Disorders

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Example Question #1 : Anxiety And Trauma Related Disorders

A person who experienced a life-threatening accident, a natural disaster, or abuse can present with __________.

Possible Answers:

post-traumatic stress disorder

panic disorder

psychosomatic disorder

intermittent explosive disorder

schizophrenia

Correct answer:

post-traumatic stress disorder

Explanation:

Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when a person who has gone through a significant trauma, a life-threatening accident, a natural disaster, or abuse shows stress symptoms that impair the person's ability to function. Psychosomatic disorder is a real, physical disorder that has a psychological cause. Tension headaches have real pain caused by muscle spasm, but stress and anxiety have a role in causing the symptoms. Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis in which there is a loss of contact with reality. MRI and PET scans show brain abnormalities and changes in function. Panic disorder runs in families, but whether it is due to genetics or environment is not clear. Panic disorder is characterized by sudden, brief attacks of intense fear that cause physical symptoms. Epileptic-like activity in the brain is thought to be the cause of intermittent explosive disorder which is characterized by recurrent episodes of aggression toward people or property.

Example Question #1 : Psychological Disorders And Anomalies

Below is a list of factors that may increase the chances of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Which of these are likely to be factors?

I. Childhood neglect or abuse

II. Being threatened with a weapon

III. Witnessing traumatic events, such as death and killing

IV. Lacking a good support system

V. Having an on-going persistent chronic condition, such as heart disease or diabetes

Possible Answers:

I, II, III

I, II, III, IV, V

I, II, III, IV

I, II, IV, V

 III, IV, V

Correct answer:

I, II, III, IV

Explanation:

All of these are factors that can contribute to PTSD, except for an on-going chronic physical health condition. On-going mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, can contribute to PTSD (usually in combination with more actue problems of experiencing or witnessing trauma), and physical conditions can increase the likelihood of depression, but alone, they do not increase the likelihood of developing PTSD.

Example Question #1 : Types Of Psychological Disorders

Panic disorders are considered to be one of the most frequent groups of anxiety disorders. Which of the following symptoms are characteristic of panic disorders?

Possible Answers:

None of these

The fear of being in situations in which escape may not be possible

The fear of attacks of terror, which are overwhelming and sudden

The unfocused and constant fear that is not associated with any specific situation or object

The irrational fear of specific situations or objects

Correct answer:

The fear of attacks of terror, which are overwhelming and sudden

Explanation:

Individuals with a panic disorder suffer from sudden, overwhelming and repeated attacks of terror, which can occur out of nowhere. Major changes in behavior and persistent anxiety over having further attacks are characteristic of panic disorders. Often external stimuli or internal thoughts can trigger these attacks.

The other choices are incorrect. The fear of no escape possibilities in crowded situations is considered to be one criteria of agoraphobia, not of panic disorder. The exaggerated fear of specific objects or situations is characteristic for phobic disorders, not of panic disorder. Last, generalized anxiety disorder is marked by the diffuse state of general worries and fears, which are not based on a specific object or event. This is not the best description listed to fit the characteristics for panic disorder.

Example Question #1 : Types Of Psychological Disorders

If a person were diagnosed with agoraphobia, then which of the following scenarios would best describe their behavior due to the disorder?

Possible Answers:

All of these

Avoidance of using public transportation

Fear of interacting with strangers

Continuously re-aligning writing utensils on their desk

Refusal to sit on a 3rd-story balcony

Correct answer:

Avoidance of using public transportation

Explanation:

Agoraphobia occurs when a patient fears situations that make them feel trapped, embarrassed, or helpless. They may fear an actual event or even simply the anticipation of an event. This is more likely to occur in a crowded area, such as a subway or metro bus, than it would simply interacting with a few strangers at a given time. In other words, they may experience a lack of desire to interact with strangers to avoid embarrassment, but that is not a situation in which they would feel trapped or helpless.

Example Question #2 : Types Of Psychological Disorders

What is the most likely diagnosis in a 24-year-old man who avoids a job he really wants because of an intense fear that he will be humiliated or rejected when meeting unfamiliar people?

Possible Answers:

Social anxiety disorder

Agoraphobia

Panic disorder

Delusional disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder

Correct answer:

Social anxiety disorder

Explanation:

Social anxiety disorder is the correct answer. The fear is judged to be out of proportion to the actual risk of the social interactions and is causing significant impairment in occupational functioning, which is concerning for social phobia. Social anxiety disorder should be suspected when intense fear of social interactions, in which the individual may be scrutinized by others, is out of proportion to the actual threat of the social situation and causes significant impairment in important areas of functioning, and the fear is not better explained by some other mental disorder.

Example Question #1 : Psychological Disorders And Anomalies

Recurrent thoughts, fears, impulses, and actions are the symptoms of __________.

Possible Answers:

somatoform disorder

antisocial personality disorder

impulse control disorders

obsessive-compulsive disorder

schizophrenia

Correct answer:

obsessive-compulsive disorder

Explanation:

In obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), patients have obsessions and compulsions. The obsessions are recurrent thoughts, fears, images, or impulses. The compulsions are recurrent, irresistible actions such as counting, hand washing, or systematically arranging things. People with schizophrenia have hallucinations and suffer from delusions. When there is no identifiable physical cause to explain physical symptoms, a somatoform disorder may be the diagnosis. People who lie, cheat, steal, and have no sense of responsibility exhibit the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder. Impulse control disorders are an inability to resist an impulse to perform an act that is harmful to the individual or others. Substance abuse and chemical dependence fall under this category.

Example Question #1 : Obsessive Compulsive Disorders

While completing a ritual, such as the repeated locking and unlocking of the front door, an individual with obsessive-compulsive disorder would most likely feel which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Dismissive

Relaxed

Relief for the rest of the day

Content

Distress

Correct answer:

Distress

Explanation:

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder often feel the need to perform certain rituals or routines repeatedly. These individuals are often compelled by intrusive thoughts. An individual compelled to perform repeated behavior, such as continually locking and unlocking a door, will often feel distressed by these intrusive thoughts and the need to perform certain behaviors. Someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder cannot simply feel dismissive toward these thoughts, which is part of the distress they experience. While performing these rituals can sometimes cause a temporary sense of relief, this relief does not last for the rest of the day. It is only a transient sense of relief that may come from temporarily satisfying the intrusive thoughts. An individual compelled to perform repeated behavior would have no particular reason to feel content or relaxed.

Example Question #1 : Psychological Disorders And Anomalies

If an individual displays behaviors consistent with trichotillomania (i.e. hair-pulling), then he or she would be classified under which of the following behavioral disorder subsets?

Possible Answers:

None of these

Obsessive-compulsive spectrum

Autism spectrum

Anxiety disorder spectrum

Bipolar spectrum

Correct answer:

Obsessive-compulsive spectrum

Explanation:

Trichotillomania is associated with irresistible urges to perform unwanted repetitive behavior, which falls under the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. Although the disorder may cause anxiety to an individual, it does not fit on the anxiety spectrum of behavioral disorders. The autism and bipolar disorder spectrums do not include behaviors or characteristics that are associated with trichotillomania.

Example Question #1 : Types Of Psychological Disorders

Which of the following neurotransmitters is commonly depressed in patients with obsessive compulsive disorder?

Possible Answers:

Noradrenaline

Adrenaline

Oxytocin

Serotonin

Correct answer:

Serotonin

Explanation:

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is related to a decrease in bioavailable "serotonin" levels. This may be due to alterations serotonin transporter (SERT) function, which increase SERT activity, thus clearing serotonin from the synaptic cleft more rapidly and leading to a shorter duration of effect. While any of the other signaling molecules listed may affected in OCD, serotonin is the only neurotransmitter known to have a direct association with the disorder.

Example Question #1 : Types Of Psychological Disorders

Which of the following is the most appropriate definition for the term "obsession" in relation to obsessive compulsive disorder? 

Possible Answers:

Excessive preoccupation with a particular subject or individual, such as a sport or a film actor.

Persistent or recurrent involuntary thoughts and/or images which are intrusive and cause marked distress or anxiety.

Repetitive behavior that an individual feels driven to perform according to rigid rules or rituals.

Repetitive motions, such as hand-flapping or rocking, with no obvious physiological cause.

Correct answer:

Persistent or recurrent involuntary thoughts and/or images which are intrusive and cause marked distress or anxiety.

Explanation:

In the context of obsessive compulsive disorder, an obsession refers to "persistent or recurrent involuntary thoughts and/or images which are intrusive and cause marked distress or anxiety." These thoughts often lead to compulsions, or repetitive behavior that an individual feels driven to perform according to rigid rules or rituals.

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