Mental Disorders

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Compare and contrast three (3) key similarities and three (3) differences between mental illnesses and mental disorders. Provide one (1) example of each similarity and difference to support your response.

Similarities between mental illness and mental disorder:

  1. Both mental illness and mental disorder are conditions that affect the normal function of the brain hence the individual lead an unusual way of life and reasoning.
  2. Both mental illness and mental disorder lead to adverse consequences for the person suffering, family and community. The person may experience anxiety, fear, anger and sadness, and may harm family or other people. The cost of treatment also affects immediate family economically.
  • Different types of mental illnesses and mental disorders have varying treatment and diagnosis procedures; however, the common ways that apply to almost all are medication, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavior therapy and community support programs.

Differences between mental illnesses and mental disorder

Mental illness Mental disorder
Mental illness refers to an involuntary medical condition that affects the brain hence interrupting the daily functioning of a person. It includes illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, mood diseases, and schizophrenia.


Mental disorders refer to clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings and behavior hence preventing them from leading a normal life.

Examples include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, behavioral disruptive disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and personality disorders.

Mental illnesses get caused by a combination of biological, environmental and psychological factors. Biological factors include genetics (heredity), infections, brain defects or injury, prenatal damage, nutritional deficiencies and exposure to toxins (such as lead), and substance abuse. Schizophrenia and depression are examples of mental illnesses due to inherited characteristics (Funnell, Koutoukidis & Lawrence, 2008). Mental disorders get attributed to hereditary or environmental factors or both (McKenzie, Pinger & Kotecki, 2011). Genetic causes include mental deficiency at birth, physical impairment, and psychological causes.
Mental illnesses exhibit symptoms such as reduced ability to concentrate, extreme mood changes of highs and lows, withdrawal from peers and social activities, suicidal thinking and trouble understanding and relating to situations. Mental illnesses alter the person’s hormonal balances and sleep cycles. Persons living with mental illnesses have a higher risk of experiencing chronic physical conditions.



Mental disorders often get characterized by severe behavioral conditions and extreme emotions.

  1. Speculate whether or not Adam Lanza’s engagement with violent video games was a stressor that caused him to act out his obsession with mass murders. Next, hypothesize whether or not Adam Lanza would have been a good candidate for the treatment of his mental illness if he had not committed suicide. Justify your response

Yes, video games watched by Adam Lanza may have caused him to act with an obsession with mass murders. Adam had a mental illness that did not get treated early hence the watching of violent media only escalated his obsession with mass murders. According to Rifon, Royne & Carlson (2014) exposure to violent content in the media contributes to increased aggressiveness and violence in individuals. It increases the likelihood of aggressive thoughts and behavior and decreases physiological arousal. Lanza actions may also have got motivated by a shooting scene that he had encountered in a video game scene.

  1. Since Lanza was diagnosed at a young age with a mental illness, suggest one (1) action psychologists should have suggested that could have prevented the assault that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary. Support your response.

Mental illness of Lanza may have got diagnosed through various techniques related to psychological therapy. The psychologist may have recommended sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy so as to change the patterns of thinking or behavior of Lanza. According to Griffin & Kovner (2013), records of Lanza’s medical history show that at the age 15 he was very rigid, resisted engagement and had aggression problems. The psychologist may have changed the behavior of Lanza using cognitive behavioral therapy hence avoiding the tragedy. Behavioral therapy focuses on the relationship between the problems, the behavior and the thoughts of the patient; hence, for Lanza, the focus would have been on the extreme aggressive behavior as well as their interaction and relation with people. The intervention would have produced a change in cognition and behavior in Adam Lanza at the age of 15; hence, the condition would not have worsened to an extreme condition. The obsessive compulsive disorder that Lanza had causes marked distress and disability but may also have got controlled through sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy with exposure and also response prevention.

  1. Differentiate between the key characteristics associated with functional mental disorders, minor mental disorders (i.e., neuroses), and manic-depressive behavior. Next, support or criticize the notion that one disorder is more severe than the other. Justify your response.

Various core characteristics differentiate functional mental disorders, minor mental disorders (i.e., neuroses), and manic-depressive behavior. Manic depressive behavior has a more adverse effect on a person due to its severity as compared to an individual who suffers from a functional mental disorder and minor mental disorder. An important characteristic of manic-depressive behavior in a person is that one can experience extreme euphoria to a low depression almost immediately. Functional mental disorder in a person affects the way they think, feel and their ability to relate to others. Functional mental disorders cannot get overcome through will power and do not have a connection to a person’s character. A patient suffering from minor mental disorder characterizes a cognitive decline in one or more domains that they can experience. Minor mental disorders such as neurosis are mild with symptoms such as stress, depression, and obsessive behavior and the patient does not suffer from radical loss with reality.

In my opinion, the manic-depressive behavior is the most severe among the three illnesses. A person who suffers from manic-depressive behavior experiences severe effects as compared to persons who suffer from functional mental illnesses and minor mental illnesses. Manic depression disorders lead to serious shifts in mood, energy, behavior as well as thinking. Functional mental disorders are more severe medical illnesses affecting the brain compared to minor mental disorders.


Griffin, A. & Kovner, J. (2013): Lanza’s Psychiatric Treatment Revealed in Documents: Hartford Courant, Retrieved from

Funnell, R., Koutoukidis, G., & Lawrence, K. (2008): Tabbner’s Nursing care: Theory and practice. Elsevier Australia.

McKenzie, J., Pinger, R., & Kotecki, J. E. (2011): An introduction to community health. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Rifon, N. J., Royne, M. B., & Carlson, L. (Eds.). (2014): Advertising and violence: Concepts and perspectives. ME Sharpe.

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