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Outline and evaluate biological therapies to treat mental disorders.

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Introduction

Outline three different biological (somatic) therapies (15 marks) The biological model of abnormality assumes that all mental disorders are caused by physical factors, for example some mental disorders are caused by the dysfunction of neurotransmission, such as too much dopamine in the brain causing schizophrenia, and so the treatments provided by the biological model all aim to address physical problems in the brain that have resulted in abnormal behaviour. The most widely used form of treatment available under biological therapies is chemotherapy (drugs) with almost 25% of NHS prescriptions being for drugs to treat mental disorders. There are three main types of drugs available to treat mental disorders, the first of these being neuroleptics. Neuroleptics are also referred to as anti-psychotics and are used to treat severe disorders such as schizophrenia. Most neuroleptics block dopamine receptors in the brain, as schizophrenics are found to have more dopamine in the brain than those without schizophrenia. Other neuroleptics simply inhibit the functioning of the hypothalamus which dampens the effect of the dopamine. ...read more.

Middle

He also proposed that memory loss due to ECT could permit cognitive restructuring and stop negative thinking. Finally he also proposed that ECT could stimulate neurotransmitters to receive more serotonin. Finally the third therapy available under the biological model is psychosurgery. Psychosurgery is used to treat severe mood disorders, aggression, OCD, eating disorders, anxiety and schizophrenia. Most operations involve destroying some of the nerves of the limbic system which is responsible for control and regulation of emotions, and areas of the brain can be isolated by cutting its connections with the rest of the brain. However this therapy is only ever used as a last resort when chemotherapy and ECT has not worked. There are several forms of psychosurgery, the original being the prefrontal lobotomy developed by Moniz who observed that aggression in chimps could be stopped by removing part of the frontal lobes and severing connections. Moniz claimed a 70% success rate with human patients and was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work. ...read more.

Conclusion

Ethically there are issues with ECT because we are unsure as to how it actually works which begs the question, should we be using this therapy at all? In this sense ECT could be likened to kicking a television when it is not working. However ECT does follow ethical guidelines as informed consent is required. Psychosurgery is also appropriate to treat depression, in addition to other mood disorders, aggression, OCD, eating disorders and anxiety disorders. Psychosurgery is also proven to be effective, with a study by Mind finding out of 42 operations carried 34 patients had some to significant improvement. Baer et al also found that OCD patients also improved following psychosurgery. Recently magnetic stimulation has also been found to help stuttering in patients. As with ECT however, Psychosurgery also has a number of side effects including: epilepsy, memory loss, paralysis, confusion and permanently reduced creativity. Ethically psychosurgery is also questionable because it is irreversible (except for magnetic stimulation) and again we are not sure how it works so should it be performed? Again though there are ethical considerations that must be taken into account and informed consent is needed along with an independent doctor's agreement. ...read more.

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