Emotions and emotional disorders
Emotions and emotional disorders

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1.1 What is an emotional disorder?

The terminology used to classify mental health disorders like emotional disorders has developed and changed over many decades. Multiple usages are current and can be very confusing. ‘Affect’ is another term for ‘mood’, so one term often used is ‘affective disorders’ which simply refers to ‘mood disorders’. Depression (also known as major depression or MD) is the most commonly occurring of the set of mood disorders known as affective disorders.

A set of disorders that are clearly distinguished from those falling under the term ‘affective disorders’ is anxiety disorders. These have in common a strong element of fearfulness, apprehension or anxiety and include generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobias, and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). It may puzzle you that the ‘affective disorders’ do not include anxiety disorder(s), even though anxiety is certainly an emotion! This is simply an anomaly rooted in the history of terminology in this area. However, the anxiety and affective disorders are collectively often referred to as emotional disorders, and this is therefore the term that will be adopted throughout the rest of this course.

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