Conduct Disorder: In Childhood and in Adulthood

Childhood, a time almost all of us wish we could go back to. A time where we were so care free and didn’t have to think about going to work so we could pay our bills. A time where if we broke a rule there was no real consequence, or were there? When we are children, we start to learn basic rules like saying please and thank you, waiting your turn in line, and keeping your hands and feet to yourself. We all remember a friend in elementary or middle school who couldn’t obey those rules, the trouble makers, the class clowns, the ones who gave the teacher a hard time. Maybe that friend or even yourself was struggling with a conduct disorder.

What is a conduct disorder?

(Don’t push your loved ones away5)

Conduct Disorder is an impulsive disorder that refers to engaging in behaviors that violate societal norms1.

Conduct Disorder (CD) is usually spotted before the age of 10 years old but can occur during adolescence as well and can proceed into adulthood1. Usually the onset of CD can occur between the ages of 9 and 17 years old and is often seen more in males than females2. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), there is also an additional subtype to CD which is referred to as “a callous-unemotional presentation” which suggests that this person holds no remorse for any violations that have done1. Children who have CD may show signs of other mental health issues such as, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression and anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and learning disabilities2.

Signs of a conduct disorder in children and adolescence4

  • Being irresponsible
  • Bullying
  • Physical fights
  • Skipping school or running away from home
  • Physical harm to animals or people
  • Stealing or doing things that violate the rights of others
    • …with a callous-unemotional presentation3
      • No remorse for bad behaviors
      • No concern for consequences
      • Lack of empathy for others
      • Lack of concern about performance in work and school
      • No emotional expression

Levels of conduct disorder

  • Mild CD: usually this individual causes little to no harm to other people. The most common behaviors we see from these individuals include lying, truancy, staying out after dark without permission and other rule breaking1.
  • Moderate CD: Individuals show a more severe impact on others and their behaviors consist of stealing without confronting a victim and vandalism1.
  • Severe CD: These individuals show the most behavior problems of those required to make the diagnosis and cause a considerable amount of harm to others around them3. The behavior problems include physical cruelty, use of weapons, stealing while confronting a victim, breaking and entering, and forced sex1.

(There is help out there6)

Some of us may be struggling with a mental health disorder that is comorbid with conduct disorder, this is common in adults. Some adults may be struggling with ADHD, substance abuse, PTSD, anxiety, depression, or a bipolar disorder. These can often be frustrating which can cause an individual to act out in an aggressive way. Conduct Disorder can take time to treat because in time of treatment new behaviors need to be developed and learned3. In hopes of catching a conduct disorder early in life, receiving treatment can be done:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help an individual with learning new skills such as impulse control, how to deal with stress and new coping strategies3.
  • Parent Training which can involve behavior management techniques to help with keeping safety in the home when your child is having an aggressive or violent episode2.
  • Family Therapy will include the parents, siblings and other family members. Family therapy can help improve skills in communication as well as parents and family members can learn de-escalating techniques when a conflict arises3.
  • Group Therapy can help an individual see that many people do struggle with a conduct disorder and meeting new people can help with antisocial behaviors as well as develop empathy for their peers3.
  • Medication is not usually a treatment in conduct disorder, but medication can be received if CD is apart of a co-occurring disorder. Usually this can be seen in children with attention issues like ADHD or mood disorders like depression3.

If you are a college student who is struggling with a mental disorder as well as a conduct disorder you may be interested in seeing what Eastern Illinois University has for you. The EIU counseling clinic offers many treatment options. There is one on one counseling, group counseling as well as a mood disorder treatment team.

Contact info: https://www.eiu.edu/counsctr/index.php

Phone #: (217)-581-3414

After Hours Emergency #: 1-866-567-2400

An outside resource in the Charleston Illinois area is the Care Horizon. The Care Horizon provides behavioral services to anyone 4 years and older. Their behavioral services are individualized and there is not an exact plan, so treatment is based on you and your needs. Treatment can also be in an in-home setting, school or other care settings.

Contact info: http://www.carehorizon.org/services/

Phone #: (217)-849-3803

Crisis Line for Children and Adolescents: 1-800-345-9049

Illinois Warm Line: 1-866-359-7953

No matter what you may be experiencing, whether that be a mood disorder or having an issue controlling your impulses there is help for you. There may be good days and bad days, but you are not alone. Do not be afraid to seek help.

 

-Mia Davila

 

(Reviewed and Edited by: Dr. Juras and Kaeli O’Donnell)

 

References:

(1) Barlow, D. H., & Durand, V. M. (2015). Anxiety, Trauma-and Stressor-Related, and Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. In Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach (7th ed., pp. 451 – 452). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning

(2) Morin, A. (2019, October 13). Conduct Disorder in Children Can Cause Serious Behavior Problems. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.verywellmind.com/signs-of-conduct-disorder-in-children-4127239

(3) Smith, K. (n.d.). Conduct Disorder: Definition, Symptoms, and Treatment Options. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.psycom.net/conduct-disorder/

(4) Stanford Children’s Health. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=conduct-disorder-90-P02560

(5) Rido. (n.d.). Happy young family sitting on couch and talking with family counselor. Smiling parents with adopted children discussing with counselor. Multiethnic family meeting a financial agent. Retrieved April 19, 2020from https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/happy-young-family-sitting-on-couch-\663456385?irgwc=1&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=Pixabay+GmbH&utm_source=44814&utm_term=https://pixabay.com/images/search/counseling

(6) Lazy Image.(2016.) photograph. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://pixabay.com/illustrations/lazy-son-student-home-mother-1458443/

What To Do If You Have Been Binge Eating

College can be very stressful. Some of the stressful things students go through are classes, test, quizzes, and even paying for schools. Students do a lot of things to take the stress away or relieve it. This often leads people into mental health issues. Some of the biggest mental health issues in college are anxiety and depression. Some disorders many college students face are anorexia and bulimia, which are eating disorders. Disorders can also take a toll of college students. Binge Eating Disorder does not sound very common for students but it is.

What is binge eating and how can you prevent this mental health problem from you and your friends?

(Binge eating can make you think about food all the time and would not stop)5

 

What is Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is an eating disorder that makes a person eat constantly big amounts of food. When binge eating, a person normally intakes an unusual amount of food. But it’s important to differentiate binge eating episodes from binge eating disorder: an episode is a one-time event, while the disorder involves recurrent episodes (at least once a week during 3 months).

Binge eating episodes are also present in a condition called Bulimia. Bulimia can be life threatening. Often after binge eating a person would feel guilty and find ways to lose weight. Someone with BED has some of the same concerns as someone dealing with anorexia such as shape and weight, but they don’t engage in compensatory behaviors (such as purging, taking laxatives, or doing excessive exercise), as behaviors present in the Bulimia condition.

Between men and women, women are the gender most common for BED. In the article Binge Eating Disorder: How Can College Make It Worse “Unknown to many, Binge Eating Disorder is actually the most common eating disorder in the America, with about 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and up to 1.6% of adolescents impacted by this disease.”3 A college student with this eating disorder may not think they have a disorder and they may not feel they need professional help.

 

Causes

Psychologists have yet to find out what really causes binge eating disorder, but there are some influences that can make someone more likely to turn to binge eating for comfort.  Low self-esteem and difficulty dealing with ones feelings can lead a person into binge eating. Ever heard the saying, “I’m just going to eat my feelings.” This means someone could start binge eating. Some traumatic events can also cause someone to binge eat, such as sexual abuse or any other type of abuse, and social pressures.

(Binge Eating can be caused my emotional distress.)6

 

What are the symptoms and when should you seek professional help

How do you know you or your friend is suffering from binge eating disorder? Most of the people suffering are overweight but there are some people dealing with this disorder that are at normal weight. Down below are some of the symptoms4.

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food
  • Feeling that you’re eating behavior is out of control
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone or in secret
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss

This video tells the signs and symptoms of Binge Eating. This can help some decipher if they or anyone else is suffering from BED. If you or any of your loved ones are experiencing these symptoms then it is imperative to see a professional. On college campuses there is a wellness or health center. At Eastern Illinois University there is a center called Health Services. There are counseling services, medical clinic, and a pharmacy. If you feel that you or a friend are dealing with these symptoms then make your way down to the center and get treated. If your binge eating is not extremely bad then you should be able to continue your education.

 

Treatment

Of course with binge eating there are some complications. These complications can affect you physically, emotionally, and socially4.

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Insomnia or sleep apnea
  • Hypertension
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Depression and/or anxiety

These complications can be life threatening to the heart, gallbladder, muscles, and joints. All of these complications can be avoided if you catch the disorder symptoms early. Once you notice or recognize you have this disorder the better it is for your health. Treatment is all about talking to someone about why you might be binge eating and also making sure you are healthy again. For treatment you can go see a specialist who specializes in binge eating disorder, therapist, psychiatrist, and nutritionist. Visiting these people can help you overcome the physical, emotional, and social complications.

 

Prevention

Professionals have not found any prevention methods for binge eating disorder. But there are suggestions on how to avoid it. College is stressful and students try to find anything to keep their mind busy so that they would not think about the stresses of college. When trying to find something to take your mind off it, try going to the recreation center and exercise, go for a walk, or even join fun activity that calms you like a meditation club. Instead of eating try these healthier alternatives.

 

-Maya Walton

 

 

(Reviewed and Edited by Dr. Juras and Kaeli O’Donnell)

 

References

  1. Barlow, D.H., & Durand, V.M. (2015). Eating and Sleep-Wake Disorders. In Abnormal Psychology: An Intergrative Approach (7th, pp. 269-312) Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
  2. Binge-Eating Disorder. (2018). Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/binge-eating-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353627
  3. Binge Eating Disorder: How College Can Make It Worse. (2017). Information for eating disorder help. Retrieved from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/binge-eating-disorder/bed-college-can-make-worse
  4. Binge Eating Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Signs & Treatment Help. (2012). Information for eating disorder help. Retrieved from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/binge-eating-disorder
  5. Binge Eating Disorder Image 1. (2018) Photograph. Retrieved from https://metro.co.uk/2018/07/20/how-to-know-if-youre-living-with-a-binge-eating-disorder-7739719/
  6. Binge Eating Disorder Image 2. (2017) Photograph. Retrieved from https://favpng.com/png_view/eating-diagnostic-and-statistical-manual-of-mental-disorders-binge-eating-disorder-clip-art-png/yAWG2N84

Game of Emotions

Mood disorders impact everyone but they can affect women and men differently. Women tend to be inflicted with major depressive disorders more often than men, but both are equally affected by bipolar disorders. 50% of mental health issue cases begin at the age of 14, while 75% of cases start at 24.3 These are startling numbers when you consider 39% of all college students suffer from a mental health issue, 41.6% of college students suffer from anxiety, additionally, 36.4% of college students suffer from depression.3 The structure of mood disorders refers to the frequency and reoccurrence of manic or depressive episodes. Furthermore, it looks at whether the emotional episodes happen consecutively or alternately. There are three categories of mood disorders defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5): Unipolar, Bipolar, and Mixed Features. They are all similar but provide a way for psychologists to categorize mood disorders and try to understand why the episodes occur.1

(Common words or feelings used to describe mood disorders)4

  1. Unipolar Mood Disorder is when all the person’s emotions lie on one side of the “pole”. They would suffer from either depression or manic episodes. Although depression alone is common, very rarely does only mania impact an individual. For a person to suffer from a unipolar mood disorder they would experience only one of the emotions (depression or mania). 1, 2
  2. Bipolar Mood Disorder refers to instabilities of emotions, meaning the patient would alternate between depressive and manic episodes. What is important about the structure is how often do they fluctuate and how severe are these episodes when they occur. The emotions must only occur one at a time and cannot occur consecutively.1, 2
  3. When a patient suffers from an episode with both emotions at the same time, they suffer from Mixed Features. Mixed features diagnosis is very rare but still can occur. Someone affected will have manic episodes with depression symptoms as well or vice versa.1, 2

(Mood disorders can make someone feel as if they are not in control of themselves and even hopeless.)5

 

Treatments

It is recommended if you feel like you suffer from any mood disorders that you should go seek treatment. The use of medication and cognitive therapy simultaneously is most popular, but it is important to find what works best for you. Another important aspect of treatment for mood disorders is preventing a relapse, psychologists or cognitive therapists would try to teach coping techniques to those who suffer or have suffered.1

 

Written by Tyler Stoklosa

 

(Reviewed and Edited by Dr. Juras and Kaeli O’Donnell)

 

 

References

  1. Barlow, D. H., & Durand, M. V. (2015). Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
  2. College students’ mental health is a growing concern, survey finds. (2013, June). Retrieved from American Psycological Association: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/06/college-students
  3. Defining Depression and Bipolar Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from Standfor Med: Mood Disorders Center: http://med.stanford.edu/mooddisorders/research.html
  4. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/anxiety-word-cloud-word-chronic-1337383/
  5. https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-face-bullying-stress-shame-2696408/

 

 

 

A Gambling Addiction

There are many things in life that we come to enjoy as we grow older.  Things such as going to clubs, bars, and casinos are just a few of the things people cannot do until they become 21.  While most people are able to enjoy these distractions in a positive way, gambling can become a serious problem and lead to many negative effects.  In fact, gambling is something that can be started before going to a casino and can lead young people to the development of the addiction.  They can make bets against friends and family for a variety of different things before every stepping foot into a casino.  Over 10 million people in the U.S. struggle with a gambling addiction.1

[Gambling]6

  1. What does a gambling addiction look like?

A gambling addiction has similar symptoms with the ones present in the substance related disorders, including tolerance symptoms (increasing the amounts of money gabled over time) and withdrawal symptoms (feeling irritable and restless when not gambling). It can also affect finances, relationships, and much more.2  A gambling addiction occurs once betting becomes habitual.  This leads to an uncontrollable urge to gamble, even when they might not have the resources to cover the bet.  Gambling addicts place bets in the chase of the high after a big win.  Many gambling addicts refuse to admit they have a problem, which is natural, people do not want to know that their actions are not only negatively affecting their lives but the lives of others.  However, this leads gamblers to place big bets and loose drastic amounts of money all in a very short period of time.

While exposure to gambling at a young age can increase in the likeliness of developing the addiction, gambling addiction can occur rather rapidly to someone with no prior exposure.  Perhaps it is their 21st birthday so they go to a casino and lose a bunch of money, and now 3 weeks later they are continuously at the casinos trying to win their money back or make more money off of one big win.  It is hard to know when some is gambling because there are so many ways to bet on things.  From the common games like blackjack and slots, to horse races and sporting matches.  With the advancement of the internet, it is now easier than ever to make bets from anywhere and anytime.  Because of this, it is important to look for signs such as: pestering others for money, avoiding discussing their own finances, constantly talking about gambling, unexcused absences form work or school, strain on relationships, and much more.3

  1. How can I help?

If you know or suspect someone close to you may have a gambling problem, there are ways that you can help.  Encouraging the person to get help is the biggest first step.  You can try and help someone as much as you want but unless they want to change they will not.  Another helpful thing that can be done is trying to understand them.  By understanding how they feel you can be able to discuss how you feel about the situation.  Creating a plan of action is also a good step in trying to help someone quit gambling.  Finding out some barriers and triggers for gambling can help prevent them from continued betting.  As someone who wants to help someone else with a gambling addiction, it is important to not feed into their addiction.  It is important for them to understand that you are not going to be enabling their addiction and want to help them.4

All of these ways are good ways to help someone with a gambling addiction, but as it is stated earlier unless the person wants to change, you will not be able to change them.  Seeking professional help is the best way to help them and treat the addiction.  Professionals are far better equipped to help diagnose and treat the issues of someone with a gambling addiction.  Studies show that a person suffering from a gambling addiction also likely has bipolar disorder, ADHD, or OCD. Because of this, a professional may be able to provide medication that can help.

[Getting help]7

Conclusions

Research into this topic shows that 14% of pathological gamblers have lost at least one job and 19% have filed for bankruptcy.5 Gambling has been a part of history for a long time and likely will continue to be a part of society.  However, with the increased ease of access to gambling via the internet and apps, it is important for people to practice safe strategies so that they do not become addicted to gambling.  No one under the age of 21 should be gambling because they may become hooked easier than someone with a fully developed brain.  It is important for those who currently are facing this addiction to seek help so they do not become another statistic and lose everything they hold dear in the process.

 

-Brian Pfingston

 

 

References

  1. Lawes, S. R. (2019). Gambling Addiction Statistics. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from https://theoakstreatment.com/gambling-addiction/gambling-addiction-statistics/
  2. Hull, M. (Ed.). (2020, February 25). Gambling Addiction Statistics. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/process-addiction/compulsive-           gambling/related/gambling-statistics/
  3. Rae, C. (2019). Do you have a gambling problem? | reSTART®. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from https://www.netaddictionrecovery.com/gambling-and-gaming-       recovery/
  4. Thomas, S., & Monico, N. (2019). How to Help Someone With a Gambling Problem. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from https://www.psychguides.com/behavioral-    disorders/gambling-addiction/how-to-help/
  5. Barlow, D. H., & Durand, V. M. (2015). Abnormal psychology: An integrative approach (pp. 432-433). Australia: Cengage Learning.
  6. Cards Blackjack Casino – Free photo on Pixabay. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/photos/cards-blackjack-casino-gambling-1030852/
  7. Help Hand Offer – Free photo on Pixabay. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/photos/help-hand-offer-despair-depression-3049553/

 

 

 

Let’s talk about sex

As young adults we have a responsibility to our community to practice safe and consensual sex. It is the driving force that allows us to reproduce and grow the community. For college students, sexual intentions are a big part of what drives us to interact with others and participate in social gatherings hoping to find a mate that they can bond with.  But what happens when you begin to notice that someone is taking their intentions to an extreme level? This may be hard to notice at first given the fact that not many people like to talk about their sexual intentions with others, as these matters are private and are only experienced by the other mate. When someone takes their sexual interest to an unusual or abnormal extent, this can be considered a paraphilia.

(A man flashing a woman his genitals is a form of paraphilia called Exhibitionism)4

What to look for when you suspect someone has paraphilias

Trying to understand this disorder can be tricky at times due to the criteria that makes paraphilias the disorder that it is. Paraphilias can be defined as a “condition in which a person’s sexual arousal and gratification depend on fantasizing about and engaging in sexual behavior that is atypical and extreme.”1 With that being said the only way someone can be considered to have a paraphilic disorder is if they act on their intentions to distress or harm someone else or even themselves. If someone has a paraphilia this can mean that they achieve sexual arousal through abnormal actions. Such actions may include1:

  • Pedophilia (sexual focus on children),
  • Exhibitionism (exposure of genitals to strangers),
  • Voyeurism (observing private activities in which victims are unaware),
  • Fetishism (touching or rubbing up against someone without consent),
  • Sexual masochism (being humiliated or forced to suffer)
  • Sadism (inflicting humiliation or suffering)

As stated before, many of these actions can be hard to notice in an individual because performing these actions are typically be done in private circumstances.

Now it is important to not confuse any of these actions with sexual desires that you may have. Just because you have sexual desires with a mate that may seem a little unordinary doesn’t mean that you or someone you may know has a paraphilia. It is normal as young adults to have explicit sexual desires, as long as you and your mate have given the green light of consent. Being on the same page of interest is important to understand before any actions taken place.

Attempting to understand the unknown

It is hard to understand why people do what they do, and some things just can’t be explained. Top professionals in the field of psychology have a hard time pin pointing what exactly can cause someone to feel this way. Some experts believe it is caused by a childhood trauma, such as sexual abuse. Others suggest that objects or situations can become sexually arousing if they are frequently and repeatedly associated with a pleasurable sexual activity.2 As studies continue to explore the innate cause for someone to feel this way, it is known that most mental health issues can be determined by behaviors or hormonal issues. “In imagination, harmful or dangerous consequences can be associated quite directly with the unwanted behavior and arousal in a powerful and emotionally meaningful way.”3 Someone who is deprived of normal social sexual contacts can begin to develop abnormal sexual pleasures from finding different ways to achieve gratification.1 Understanding the background of an individual can help you assess different ways to help an individual overcome their mental illness.

Here is a video from a counseling expert on paraphilia.

(Percentages of other mental illnesses that commonly occur with paraphilias)5

Knowing what you can do to help someone

It can be difficult to find the right ways in which you can help someone. If you suspect that your friend has a paraphilic disorder, the best thing that you can do for them is guide them to seek help from a professional. Counseling and therapy can help someone by changing his or her behaviors.2 Counseling can be effective but may not work given the severity of that person’s problem. Medication can also help someone with paraphilic disorder. The medication that is used can help lower a person’s compulsiveness to want to act out on his/ her sexual behavior or even lower that persons sexual drive.2

All in all, paraphilic disorder can have a big affect on someone’s way of life. It can lead them down some dark roads or get them into quite a bit of trouble if they get caught. In today’s times sexuality is a beautiful mystery that includes everyone and anyone. It’s perfectly fine to have sexually arousing thoughts and to act on such thoughts. But it is important that no matter what happens that you respect one another in the ultimate conquest of the pleasurable experiences of life.

 

 

-Richard York

 

(Reviewed and Edited by Dr. Juras and Kaeli O’Donnell)

 

 

 

 

 

References

  1. (2019, March 26). Retrieved from                                          https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/paraphilias
  2. Johnson, T. C. (2018, September 9). Paraphilias and Mental Health. Retrieved from    https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/paraphilias-overview#3
  3. Barlow, David H. and Durand, Mark V. “Abnormal psychology and integrative approach” seventh edition,  Cengage learning
  4. “DSM-5 and Paraphilias: What Psychiatrists Need to Know.” Institute For Sexual Wellness, 2 Mar. 2017, instituteforsexualwellness.org/dsm-5-and-paraphilias-what-psychiatrists-need-to-know/. ( image 1)
  5. “Paraphilias of the Day: Peodeiktophilia and Homeovestism.” Illinois Family Institute, 8 Dec. 2017, illinoisfamily.org/homosexuality/paraphilias-day-peodeiktophilia-homeovestism ( image 2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Than Just a Fear

We have all been afraid of something. Maybe a spider frightens us, so we smash it with a magazine. Maybe we feel nervous about a flight for a moment before boarding. Maybe we feel uncomfortable right before we are about to be sick. These feelings of stress are something we don’t think about in our day-to-day lives, unless we have a phobia. Having a specific phobia can make it really difficult or even prevent us from doing those “normal” tasks. When attending college, it becomes even more difficult to avoid a phobia due to the overwhelming amounts of new experiences. Learning how to understand and treat your phobia is important for living every day to your fullest.

(Fear can make you feel many different emotions³)

What does it mean to have a “Specific Phobia”?

When someone is diagnosed with a specific phobia it means they have a sometimes debilitating, irrational fear of a specific object or situation that is considered an anxiety disorder2. When we say an “irrational” fear, it just means that the specific thing or situation they are afraid of is not very likely to harm them. In my experience, my emetaphobia (fear of throwing up or seeing someone throw up) has been extremely debilitating and has even stopped me from enjoying some important life events.

All of this information might encourage you to ask, “what if I have a specific phobia?” Well, you always want to go check with a professional instead of self-diagnosing, but there are some symptoms that could lead you to want to see a psychologist sooner. These are just some of the symptoms of a specific phobia that include4:

  • Anxiety caused by the thought of an object or experience occurring.
  • Avoiding situations because of the object or situation you are afraid of.
  • Going above and beyond in preventative measures.
  • Biological reactions while around or thinking about your phobia (this can include sweating, elevated heart rate, stomach ache, change in blood pressure).
  • Dysfunction in day-to-day life.

When being diagnosed with a specific phobia, there are five types in the DSM-5 that you could be grouped in. These groups are “animal,” “natural environment” (storms, weather, etc.), “blood injuries,” “situational,” or “other”1. Understanding which category you fall into may change the way you receive treatment.

(An example of a blood phobia⁵)

What causes someone to develop a phobia?

One of the main theories on why people develop phobias has to do with past frightening experiences2. For example, someone could have a fear of spiders because when they were young, they were bit by one and had a severe reaction causing the memory of spiders to be negative.

Another way to develop a phobia is by having a panic attack in a specific situation2. These situations can become very frightening to an individual who links the uncomfortable feeling of a panic attack with a place or situation.

The third main way to develop a phobia can be from watching someone else go through a traumatic experience2. An example of this is a person who is afraid of driving because when they were younger, they witnessed someone they love pass away in a car accident. This person can develop a phobia even if they were not the one driving the vehicle.

Lastly, people can develop a phobia from being repeatedly told that something is fearful2. A good example of this is the fear of snakes. Snakes have been made out to seem like dangerous animals when they are actually very intelligent, kind ones. Society has drilled into people’s minds that most snakes are venomous, slimy, and dangerous when these things aren’t true for most snakes. Parents tell their children to stay away so, in some cases this could create a phobia.

Now that I think I have a phobia, what do I do?

There is one main treatment option for a phobia which consists of exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is self-explanatory in that the treatment includes going to see a therapist that will slowly and systematically expose you to the phobia either physically or verbally, by using your own imagination2. This might be a scary thought and could even cause you anxiety reading it, but therapists are trained in supporting you and allowing you to grow. Exposure therapy can be a very slow process that is worth undergoing, since the most effective treatment is facing what you fear. The more you try to avoid the phobic producing object or situation, the more your fear grows and more likely you are to develop other phobias, which is called generalization. Before the actual exposure starts, you’ll learn from the therapist many relaxation techniques and even learn how to face and tolerate the negative physiological effects of fear, that won’t actually hurt you. Of course, it’s important that you have to be in good health to be treated with exposure therapy and the professional is the best person to assess if this is the best treatment option for you.

Although there aren’t exposure therapists in Charleston, IL, there are many well trained psychologists at Life Links in Mattoon, IL that specialize in anxiety disorders and can help you on your journey to relief and understanding of your phobia.

Another way to find some relief, is to visit the page “7 cups of tea”, a free online emotional support website. This website keeps your identity completely confidential while you speak to an anonymous person on the other end. If you want, you can also pay to speak to a therapist on this website for even more support.

With everything in mind, making sure you reach out to someone who can support you is very important. Phobias can be very debilitating, and you don’t want that to last throughout what should be the best years of your life.

 

-Katherine Monatelli

 

(Reviewed and edited by Dr. Juras and Kaeli O’Donnell)

 

References

1) American Psychiatric Association. 2013. Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC

2) Barlow, D. H., Durand, V. M., & Hofmann, S. G. (2018). Abnormal psychology: an integrative approach. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

3) Fear image. (2017) Photograph. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/illustrations/fear-emotion-anxiety-vulnerability-2083653/

4) Specific phobias. (2016, October 19). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/specific-phobias/symptoms-causes/syc-20355156

5) Syringe phobia image (2016) photograph. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/illustrations/syringe-phobia-fear-blood-sample-1547989/

How Everyday Stress for College Students is a Nightmare for Someone with Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

Being in college can bring about an abundance of stress and tension. You’ve lived at home your whole life and now you’re thrown into a new town with new people and many more responsibilities. It seems as if it all happens at once. Now you must worry about paying for tuition, rent, your meals, and other expensive bills, all while maintaining your social life, good grades, and possibly a job. It can feel very overwhelming to deal with. You get exhausted from trying to keep up with everything while constantly feeling as if you’re behind. The tension rises and eventually, you blow up and have a mental breakdown. This could look different for many people. Maybe you throw things, scream, cry, or all of the above. While this is an occasional occurrence that happens to most every student, those with Intermittent Explosive Disorder may have a much harder time dealing with the situation.

 

What is intermittent Explosive Disorder?

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) is an Impulse-Control Disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM–5). It is defined as episodes during which a person acts on aggressive impulses that can result in serious assault or destruction of property.1 These episodes generally last less than 30 minutes. While it’s relatively common for students to have occasional outbursts from built up stress and tension, those with Intermittent Explosive Disorder experience them more frequently and aggressively. Many of these episodes are out of proportion to the situation. The smallest inconvenience can set them off. They become engulfed with rage and an uncontrollable desire to explode. A distinctive factor of this disorder is aggressive behavior that often results in violence or destruction. The episodes occur suddenly and uncontrollably. After an episode, one might feel a sense of relief, but later feel regret or embarrassment for their actions. These episodes might be accompanied by many symptoms.3

(Intermittent Explosive Disorder can make you feel extreme rage2)

Symptoms3

  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Increased energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Palpitations
  • Chest tightness

The verbal and behavioral outbursts can include:

  • Temper tantrums
  • Heated arguments
  • Road rage
  • Physical fights
  • Property damage
  • Threatening or assaulting people or animals

 

Many of the symptoms are emotions that almost everyone has experienced at some point in their life. So how can you know for sure if you or a loved one has Intermittent Explosive Disorder?

 

Diagnosis and DSM 5 Criteria

If you think you or a loved one might fit the criteria for IED, it is important to reach out to a psychologist or psychiatrist. The psychologist will assess your symptoms and discuss possible treatments. The DSM 5 criteria for IED is as follows,

“A. Recurrent outbursts and a failure to control aggressive impulses as manifested by either of the following:

  1. Verbal aggression (temper tantrums, arguments, or fights) or physical aggression toward property, animals, or other individuals, occurring twice weekly, on average, for a period of 3 months. The physical aggression does not result in damage or destruction of property and does not result in physical injury to animals or other individuals.
  2. Three behavioral outbursts involving damage or destruction of property and/or physical assault involving physical injury against animals or other individuals occurring within a 12-month period.
  3. The degree of aggressiveness expressed during the episodes is grossly out of proportion to the provocation or any precipitating psychosocial stressors.
  4. The recurrent aggressive outbursts are not premeditated (i.e., they are impulsive and/or anger-based) and are not committed to achieve some tangible objective (e.g., money, power, intimidation).
  5. The recurrent aggressive outbursts cause either marked distress in the individual or impairment in occupational or interpersonal functioning or are associated with financial or legal consequences.
  6. Chronological age is at least 6 years (or equivalent developmental level).”4

 

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of IED are unknown, but there are some factors that are commonly prevalent in these cases. For example, most people with this disorder grew up in households where explosive behavior and verbal and physical abuse were common. Exposure to this type of violence increases the likelihood that the child will grow up to display similar behaviors. Other risk factors include a history of physical abuse and other mental health disorders. Having antisocial or borderline personality disorder increases your risk of also having IED.3

 

Treatment

If you are diagnosed with IED, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. It can help not only you, but others who may be affected by the verbal or physical abuse that often accompanies this disorder. There are many options for treatment of IED such as medication and psychotherapy. Studies show that combining both approaches results in the best prognosis. Patients respond best to treatment with antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and mood stabilizers. Other options include group counseling, anger management programs, and relaxation techniques.5 There are also many coping mechanisms that can be used to help prevent yourself from losing control.

  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or yoga to help you stay calm.
  • Try to understand and prevent the often triggers (antecedents), and distorted assumptions you might have in a specific situation.
  • Change your environment to avoid situations that upset you.
  • Schedule personal time to better handle an upcoming stressful situation.
  • Avoid mood-altering substances. Don’t use alcohol or recreational or illegal drugs.3

 

(Seeking help can have a tremendous impact on your mental health6)

 

On-Campus Resources

In some instances, college students may not seek help because of the cost of counseling/therapy sessions. Luckily, Eastern Illinois University (EIU) has a counseling clinic on campus that is free to all students. They offer many resources for those struggling with their mental health. They offer group counseling where you can talk amongst students who may have similar issues. If you’d prefer a more private session, personal 1 on 1 counseling is also available. Due to the current situation with COVID-19, all in person consultations and appointments will now be held over the phone. If you would like to seek help or schedule a consultation with the EIU Counseling Clinic, call (217)581-3413.7  There are also many other counseling clinics in the surrounding areas of Charleston, IL.

EIU also has a Mindfulness Club which meets every Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Paris room in the MLK Union. During this time, “experienced practitioners of Daata Mindfulness teach simple techniques to increase contentment, happiness, and compassion and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.”8 This club would benefit someone with IED because it would help the individual to reduce stress, stay calm, and neutralize their anger.

 

Virtual Resources

There are many online resources that can help someone with IED learn more about their disorder and hear from others who have it. One of these includes a private Facebook group named “Intermittent Explosive Disorder Support and Understanding Group.” The page is for people with the disorder and those who have loved ones affected by it. It states that it’s a safe space for people to talk openly about their experiences.9

 

-Jayla Schwarzlose

 

(Reviewed and Edited by Dr. Juras and Kaeli O’Donnell)

 

References

  1. Barlow, D. H., & Durand, V. M. (2015). Substance-Related, Addictive, and Impulse-Control Disorders. In Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach (7th ed., pp. 433). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
  2. Enraged furious young man screaming in anger, pulling his hair out (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/enraged-furious-young-man-screaming-anger-1048945091
  3. Intermittent explosive disorder. (2018, September 19). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/intermittent-explosive-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20373921
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016, April 18). Table 3.18, DSM-IV to DSM-5 Intermittent Explosive Disorder Comparison – Impact of the DSM-IV to DSM-5 Changes on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health – NCBI Bookshelf. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519704/table/ch3.t18/
  5. Intermittent Explosive Disorder. (2019, February 07). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/intermittent-explosive-disorder
  6. Support (n.d.) Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/images/search/support/
  7. Eastern Illinois University. (n.d.). EIU Counseling Clinic. Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.eiu.edu/counsctr/index.php
  8. Student Organizations (RSOs). (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.eiu.edu/slo/rso/rso_info.php?id=283
  9. Intermittent Explosive Disorder Support and Understanding Group. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2020, from https://www.facebook.com/groups/151724801539095

“I THOUGHT I WAS HAVING A HEART ATTACK.”

What are Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks are identified in people who have severe-spontaneous feelings of panic, which can cause them to feel like they are losing control and even dying.2 People with panic disorders are very concerned about the fear of a regular attack. In this disorder, panic attacks occur unexpectedly, from time to time, even causing people to wake up from sleep. Panic disorder usually begins in adulthood (after age 20).2 Still, young people can also have panic disorder, and many children have panic-like symptoms.1

Types of panic attacks can vary in depth and duration but can also differ depending on what triggered the attack. There are two types of panic attacks, expected panic attacks and unexpected panic attacks.2 Panic disorder occurs when you have recurrent and surprising panic attacks, without a common trigger, such as in a phobic disorder, when you know what causes the panic attack to occur. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) defines panic attacks as abrupt waves of fear or severe discomfort that peak within minutes.2 People with these types of episodes remain in fear of a panic attack. They may have a panic attack while experiencing sudden, overwhelming terror that has no apparent cause. You may revel in bodily symptoms, such as a racing heart, breathing difficulties, and sweating. If you have had one or more panic attacks or you are still afraid of having another panic attack after experiencing one, you may have a panic disorder.2

 

Common signs

(Physical signs and symptoms of a panic attack)4

Typical signs associated with a panic attack are: rapid heartbeat, palpitations, shortness of breath, choking sensation, dizziness, lightheadedness, sweating or chills, shaking, changes in mental status, consisting of a feeling of realization (unreality) or depersonalization (being indifferent to oneself), numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, pain or tightness in the chest, fear of the possibility of death.4

Panic attacks are commonly felt through a mixture of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. These attacks may occur out of the ordinary. However, a panic attack can continue to affect a young person long after it is over, inflicting more significant anxiety and tension hours after the assault has subsided.7

Experiencing a panic attack can be a frightening experience for a young person. Like adults with panic disorder, adolescents who experience panic attacks are likely to engage in increasingly avoidant behavior. When this happens, the adolescent begins to live away from situations, places, and activities that he or she believes may also cause a panic attack.1 Also, they may, for example, begin to avoid crowds, including college or cafeteria assemblies. They may even end up anxious in cars or other forms of transportation, and afraid to go to places considered safe, such as the home. If left untreated, panic disorder can harm a person’s life. It can certainly lead to problems with school, relationships, and self-esteem. In an interview with someone that experiences panic disorder, the participant stated, “When my first panic attack occurred, I didn’t know what was happening… I honestly thought I was having a heart attack. When I realized what was it was, I was able to ask someone for help.”6

Only a health care professional or qualified expert can diagnose a person with panic disorder. A health professional can also rule out viable medical reasons for panic attacks and decide whether there are concurrent situations, including depression.3

 

Differences in Anxiety and Panic Disorders

Anxiety is something that everyone has; it’s not new.2 However, unlike some other problems that people may have, anxiety attacks are something that cannot be cured. You can use medicine or therapy to control them or to keep you from having so many episodes, but you cannot get rid of them. Dr. Sean Akers, a child psychologist, explains the difference between the anxiety that everyone can have and having a disorder. The differences can be, having anxiety about speaking in front of the class or in front of a group of people which is normal versus having specific symptoms that make you feel so uncomfortable about the task that you are unable to do the activity.7

 

How to handle Panic Disorders

Some of the most common remedial options include psychotherapy, medication, and self-help strategies.3 The effects of treatment are often exceptional when a combination of these methods are used, and remedy recommendations are followed. Through psychotherapy, a young person can meet with a professional who treats panic disorder to work through deep feelings and increase coping strategies. Different varieties of psychotherapy may be available – the most common is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to support the adolescent in expanding healthier approaches to questioning and behavior.3 According to our interviewed participant, her experience is: “I typically try to close my eyes, count my slow breaths, and focus on something that gives me stability, or things I can control.”6

 

How to stop a panic attack?

(Ways to cope in times of panic)5

There are a lot of methods that people use to stop/lessen their panic attacks; different techniques work better for different people. Some people find that relaxing the body can help avoid a panic attack.4 Practice deep breathing by taking deep breaths through your nose and letting the air out your mouth. You can focus on your breathing and relax. Others find that putting your focus elsewhere can distract you enough to stop a panic attack. You can concentrate on things like deep breathing, counting backward from a hundred, and using different grounding techniques. A widely used grounding technique is your five senses.5 For sight, look for five things, you can see and describe. Touch: find four things you can feel. Try and notice the texture, temperature, size, etc. Hear: listen around you, try and find three distinct ideas you can hear, people, wind rain, etc. Look for two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. The items you find are not necessary but distracting yourself is meant to help.4 I have panic disorder, and grounding helps me. I also like to count all my fingers and toes and move them each separately. This link provides 15 simple grounding techniques.

 

-Faith Davies

 

 

(Reviewed and Edited by Dr. Juras and Kaeli O’Donnell)

 

 

References

(1) Anxiety in Children & Teens. 3 May 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSBJjtx8AJw

(2) Burke, Darla. “Panic Disorder.” Healthline, 7 Jan. 2016,

www.healthline.com/health/panicdisorder.

(3) Durand, V. M. & Barlow, D. H. (2015). Abnormal psychology: An integrative approach(7th Edition).Australia: Cengage Learning.

(4) Jaworski, Margaret. “How to Stop a Panic Attack.” Psycom,

www.psycom.net/when-panicattacks-how-to-stop

(5) Mind Mental Health and Wellness LLC. “IMind Mental Health and Wellness LLC.” Grounding Techniques Are a Great Way to… – IMind Mental Health and Wellness LLC, 2019, www.facebook.com/676649316008603/photos/grounding-techniques-are-a-great-way-to-cope-with-through-focus-and-breathing/862266530780213/.

(6)  Norton, Jordan, 29 April 2020, Personal Communication

(7) Star, Katharina. Panic Disorder and Anxiety in Teens.

www.verywellmind.com/panic-disorderin-adolescence-2583935.

 

Conquering College with an Intellectual Disability

When a student arrives at college, it can trigger a stressful response for any student. There are different changes that take place such as, no close family or friends, challenging classes and adjusting to a new schedule and life away from home. Typically for any student the challenge of meeting new people, building connections and making lasting friendships can be a challenge. Now imagine that challenge is accompanied with an intellectual disability. An intellectual disability can be defined as a problem with general mental abilities affecting intellectual functioning and adaptive functioning7.

(College options for people with Intellectual Disabilities)3

What is an Intellectual Disability?

This disorder is typically diagnosed in childhood. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder – Fifth Edition (DSM-5) identifies the areas of struggle in the domains of conceptual (e.g. language, reasoning, knowledge, and memory), social (e.g. social decision and making/maintain friendships), and practical situations (e.g. personal care, job responsibilities). Individuals with an intellectual disability have a broad range of abilities, some with an intellectual disability are able to carry out day to day activities and responsibilities, while those with a more severe impairment may not 2. Although, an IQ score is not currently used in the diagnostic process of an intellectual disability, it used to be. The score was and still might be used as a classification system to classify individuals with an intellectual disability at either mild, moderate, or severe. Most individuals with an intellectual disability fall in the mild classification. These classifications do not limit the individual. Individuals with an intellectual disability display a range of skills and this can be due to the supports they have at home or school or training and education around them2.

What causes an Intellectual Disability?

Often, a child is born with an intellectual disability, but a child could also develop it after birth.  It can be a complex mix of factors that lead to a child having an intellectual disability. Some causes of an intellectual could be, but are not limited to, smoking and drinking during pregnancy, complications during birth, infections during pregnancy, mother/baby exposure to environmental toxins5. Other possible causes could be environmental such as deprivation, abuse, and neglect2.

What are Signs of Intellectual Disability?

A child with an intellectual disability may develop and reach developmental milestones later then typically developing children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some signs may be that a child walks, crawls, and/or talks later then a typically developing child. A child that has an intellectual disability may have difficulties with remembering, complying with social norms, and/or seeing how their actions affect them and others around them5. Often an individual with an intellectual disability will not be identified and diagnosed until school age because the symptoms may not begin to show until there is difficulty with academics5.

How is an Intellectual Disability Diagnosed?

An intellectual disability is diagnosed by following the criteria set forth by the DSM-5.

It is as follows: deficits in intellectual functions (confirmed through experiences, clinical assessment, and standardized testing), deficits in adaptive functioning, resulting in failure to meet development and social norms of a culture, and onset of deficits (intellectual and adaptive), and must occur during the development period of the individuals life2.

 

How a College Student with an Intellectual Disability can Succeed:

Through the online resource ThinkCollege, different college success stories from individuals with an intellectual disability are shared. It can be found in most of the success stories, that each student started with goals. Most of the goals the individuals created began in high school with the goal that they wanted to attend a college. The supports they often use at the high school level is a guidance counselor, advisor, or trusted teacher6. At Eastern Illinois University (EIU), a student with an intellectual disability can use the Student Disability Services office. This office is to help students transfer from a K-12 learning environment to higher education environment. EIU offers a free program that students with an intellectual disability can enroll in called FOCUS. This program offers a weekly meeting with a student mentor. The goal of this program is to “provide the participants with the skills and supports they need to achieve academic success at the college level”4.

Accommodations for College Students with an Intellectual Disability

Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, college students with an intellectual disability are protected. There are differences between primary and secondary education; secondary education is not required to provide Free and Appropriate Public Education. Rather, the university is required to “provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability”7. At EIU, students with a documented disability can utilize the Students with Disabilities Services Office to ensure appropriate accommodations needed for success in the classroom. The accommodations include but are not limited to accommodation letters for professors, setting up test taking accommodations (e.g. questions read aloud or more time given), note taking accommodations, emotional support or service animals, and/or priority registration4.

(Adapting instructions for students with disabilities)1

Resources Available

In the blog post above there have been different resources mentioned. Below you can find this information and additional resources:

 

 

-Ellie Tutewiler

 

(Revised and Edited by: Dr. Juras and Kaeli O’Donnell)

 

 

 

 

References

(1) Adapting Instructions for Students with Disabilities. https://sites.google.com/a/region10.org/accommodating-for-students-with-disabilities/

(2) Barlow, D, H., & Durand, V. M. (2015) Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach. (pp. 530-533). Cengage Learning.

(3)  College Options for People with Intellectual Disabilities. http://abilityrevolution.org/college-options-for-people-with-intellectual-disabilities/

(4) Eastern Illinois University. (2020). EIU Student Disability Services. Retrieved from https://www.eiu.edu/disability/

(5) Facts About Developmental Disabilities. (2019, September 26). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/developmentaldisabilities/facts.html

(6) Resource Library. (2020). Retrieved from https://thinkcollege.net/resource-search?sort=field_resourc_publication_date&order=desc&f[0]=field_resourc_publication_types:1504&f[1]=field_resourc_publication_types:1507

(7) Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education. (2020, January 10). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html

(8) What is Intellectual Disability? (2020). Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/intellectual-disability/what-is-intellectual-disability

 

 

Am I Too Odd or Eccentric? Cluster A Personality Disorders

We all know our own personalities best, but what if our personality interferes in our personal relationships and everyday activities? This could be due to a personality disorder, or a “persistent pattern of emotions, cognitions, and behavior that results in enduring emotional distress for the person affected and/or for others and may cause difficulties with work and relationships.”¹ Dealing with a personality disorder anytime, but especially during college, can be challenging. Throughout this post, you will see in-depth descriptions, causes, and treatments for Cluster A Personality Disorders and learn how you or someone you know can find help.

What are Personality Disorder Clusters?

Before we go into more detail on Cluster A Personality Disorders, it’s important to recognize the three different groups of personality disorders in the DSM-5. The three groups, Cluster A, Cluster B, and Cluster C are grouped by similarities and resemblances to one another. Cluster A, which I will focus on in-depth within this post, is characterized by odd or eccentric personality disorders such as the paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders.

 (Visual of Cluster A Personality Disorders²)

Paranoid Personality Disorder

  • Description: People who have a paranoid personality disorder are often very distrustful of others even though there does not seem to be a reason for the mistrust. Their suspicions of others, who they believe are out to get them or harm them, make it difficult to form new friendships and other relationships. People with paranoid personality disorder like having a lot of autonomy and may be extremely quiet, argumentative, or complaintive as well as even volatile when confronted with criticism¹. People with this disorder often have an increased risk for depression more so than other groups of people³. Suicide attempts and violent behavior are also higher risks for those with paranoid personality disorder¹.
  • Causes: Much like with schizophrenia, paranoid personality disorder has a lot to do with genetics. Although psychological explanations of paranoid personality disorder are uncertain, there seems to be a connection to past traumatic events and mistreatment in a child’s life that could lead to the development of this disorder. Other psychological speculations suggest that the disorder is due to “maladaptive” thoughts of the individual that may have been taught to them in their childhood. There are cultural factors to paranoid personality disorders as well. People such as prisoners, immigrants, hearing impaired people, and older adults are more likely to develop the disorder due to their experiences¹.
  • Treatment: Treatment can be very difficult for people with paranoid personality disorder because of their mistrust of others. It is hard for them to form a trusting relationship with a therapist or counselor or to even seek help in the first place because of their suspicious nature. When they do seek help, it is usually due to other problems in their lives like depression or because it is court mandated. Cognitive therapy can be helpful for these clients by helping them realize that most people are not trying to harm them. Unfortunately, most clients with paranoid personality disorder do not remain in therapy long enough to significantly improve their quality of life¹.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

  • Description: People with schizoid personality disorder do not feel the need for close relationships and appear to be cold, aloof, and detached from those around them. Schizoid personality disorder has similarities to paranoid personality disorder, but schizoid personality disorder is considered to be more extreme. These people are seen as “loners” and observers rather than participants in their own lives. People with this disorder are at an increased risk for homelessness¹. Furthermore, there is a potential connection between schizoid personality disorder and suicide because of the extreme isolation of the individuals with this disorder³.
  • Causes: There has been little research conducted on the causes of this disorder. Shyness during childhood and abuse and neglect have been suggested as possible causes. A link between autism and schizoid personality disorder has been suggested as well¹.
  • Treatment: People with this disorder do not usually seek help unless they have severe depression or have lost their job because of their disorder. Some therapists have seen a little success in treating this disorder by emphasizing the value of social relationships and teaching clients social skills through role play to help them develop empathy toward others¹.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

  • Description: Schizotypal personality disorder is very closely related to schizophrenia and includes social isolation as well as abnormal behavior, paranoia, and unusual beliefs. People with this disorder are considered to be odd by others because of the way they think, act, and even dress. A lot of people with this disorder believe that everyone is talking or thinking about them, and some may even believe they have magic abilities such as telepathy¹. Some people with schizotypal personality disorder may even experience “visual disturbances” like seeing things that are not there³.
  • Causes: Schizotypal personality disorder is very closely related to schizophrenia and is viewed as a less intense form of schizophrenia. The genetics of people with schizotypal personality disorder and the environment of people with the disorder mimic the genetics and environment of people with schizophrenia. Childhood mistreatment and damage to the brain, on the left hemisphere specifically, are also potential causes¹.
  • Treatment: Many people with schizotypal personality disorder are also treated for depression. Using antipsychotic medication, community treatment, and social skills training have been found to reduce symptoms of the disorder and to reduce the likelihood of developing schizophrenia¹.

Where Can I Find Local Resources and Help?

As I mentioned before, dealing with a Cluster A Personality Disorder can be difficult and lonely, especially in college. College is a place of learning but also a place to form new relationships and make meaningful connections to the people around us. Therapy is beneficial to everyone, but I strongly encourage you to go if you’re really struggling with making those connections, feeling socially isolated, and/or depressed as those can all be symptoms of a personality disorder. A good option for students at Eastern Illinois University is the Counseling Clinic on campus, which is completely free to students! I recommend attending some of the Mindfulness Club’s meetings as well because they aim to reduce stress and depression. Furthermore, check out this link to Psychology Today, which has a list of therapists in the Charleston, IL area. You can also ask to join these Facebook groups that are inclusive and supportive of people with Cluster A Personality Disorders such as the Paranoid Personality Disorder Support Group, the Schizoid Personality Disorder Support Group, and the Schizotypal Personality Disorder Support Group. Help is out there.

 (Counselors can help us make sense of what we’re going through⁴)

*Chelsey Wilkins

 

 

 

 

References

(1)  Barlow, D.H. & Durand, V.M. (2015). Personality Disorders. In Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach (7th ed., pp. 440-473). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

(2) Cluster A. (n.d.). Photograph. Retrieved from https://cindyledbetter.com/personality/personality-disorders/

(3) Sissons, C. (2019). What to know about cluster A personality disorders. Medical News Today. Retrieved from  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325164#schizotypal-disorder

(4) Therapist Counseling Stock. (n.d.). Photograph. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?q=clipart+counseling&rlz=1C1CHZL_enUS703US703&sxsrf=ALeKk039vvHqiBLjGnTxiqlGs_-_UwteIw:1584640962782&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiLlbvNj6foAhWOWM0KHQ0oCEIQ_AUoAXoECAsQAw&biw=1280&bih=561&dpr=1.5#imgrc=OjEZ9eR2F83RfM