Assignment: The Diathesis-Stress Model

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Assignment: The Diathesis-Stress Model

Assignment: The Diathesis-Stress Model

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Most psychologists today agree that it is important to look at the biological, psychological, and social factors that are involved with the etiology and treatment of mental disorders. The Diathesis-Stress model proposes that genetic and/or psychological vulnerabilities, combined with individual or environmental stressors, leads to distress and/or dysfunction and the possible development of psychological disorders.

For this assignment, you will select two of the disorders we have discussed in Lessons 2, 3, and 4 (e.g. generalized anxiety disorder, anorexia nervosa, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, etc.) and discuss the following.

  1. Symptomology – Give a thorough description of the specific characteristics of two (2) disorders.
  2. Etiology – Discuss the etiology of the disorders from a diathesis-stress model perspective.  Include biological, psychological, and environmental factors that contribute to the development of the disorder.
  3. Treatment – Describe two (2) treatment approaches for each disorder.

The diathesis–stress model is a  that attempts to explain a disorder, or its trajectory, as the result of an interaction between a predispositional vulnerability and a stress caused by life experiences. The term derives from the  term (διάθεσις) for a predisposition, or sensibility. A diathesis can take the form of genetic, psychological, biological, or situational factors. A large range of differences exists among individuals’ vulnerabilities to the development of a disorder.

The diathesis, or predisposition, interacts with the individual’s subsequent  response. Stress is a life event or series of events that disrupts a person’s psychological equilibrium and may catalyze the development of a disorder.Thus the diathesis–stress model serves to explore how biological or genetic traits (diatheses) interact with environmental influences (stressors) to produce disorders such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia.

The diathesis–stress model asserts that if the combination of the predisposition and the stress exceeds a threshold, the person will develop a .

The use of the term diathesis in medicine and in the specialty of psychiatry dates back to the 1800s; however, the diathesis–stress model was not introduced and used to describe the development of  until it was applied to explaining  in the 1960s by . The diathesis–stress model is used in many fields of , specifically for studying the development of psychopathology. It is useful for the purposes of understanding the interplay of  in the susceptibility to  throughout the lifespan. Diathesis–stress models can also assist in determining who will develop a disorder and who will not. For example, in the context of , the diathesis–stress model can help explain why Person A may become depressed while Person B does not, even when exposed to the same stressors. More recently, the diathesis–stress model has been used to explain why some individuals are more at risk for developing a disorder than others. For example, children who have a family history of depression are generally more vulnerable to developing a depressive disorder themselves. A child who has a family history of depression and who has been exposed to a particular stressor, such as , would be more likely to develop depression than a child with a family history of depression that has an otherwise positive social network of peers.

The diathesis–stress model has also served as useful in explaining other poor (but non-clinical) developmental outcomes.

Protective factors, such as positive social networks or high self-esteem, can counteract the effects of stressors and prevent or curb the effects of disorder. Many psychological disorders have a window of vulnerability, during which time an individual is more likely to develop disorder than others. Diathesis–stress models are often conceptualized as multi-causal developmental models, which propose that multiple risk factors over the course of development interact with stressors and protective factors contributing to normal development or psychopathology. The  is a recent theory that has stemmed from the diathesis–stress model

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