Psychopathology Distribution

Psychopathology Distribution across Populations and Samples


Psychopathology is a discipline of psychiatry or mental health that deals with the study of mental illnesses and social disorders. While diagnosis of other medical conditions uses biological metrics to ascertain a problem, diagnosis of psychopathology utilises four major domains, which include social aspects, behavioural alterations, thought content and flow, and emotions. These four aspects are interrelated in that thoughts and emotions affect behaviour, which in turn influences social life of an individual. Other factors like ethnicity, genetics, and age are important areas to observe while analysing psychopathology. Current paper highlights in detail distribution of psychopathology across populations and samples.



Various developmental epidemiology studies on mental illnesses indicate that the process of growth and development has many implications for the tendency and manifestation of mental illnesses. Aging also plays a key role in the development of psychiatric cases.

A study conducted on the relationships of childhood psychopathology and maternal mental state during pregnancy has focused on eating disorders. This study states that maternal eating disorders during pregnancy influence the eating behaviour of their children both in childhood and in adolescence. More research in this area will not only help to identify effects of maternal mental problems on their offspring, but can also help in identifying other predisposing factors to eating disorders.

According to the comprehensive review of childrens and adolescents psychiatric epidemiology, incidences of mental illnesses in these population groups increased by approximately 30,000 from 1980 to 2002. This observation represents a ratio of 1:3, i.e. one in every three or four children and adolescents fits into a category of mental disorders according to the DSM-V. However, a small percentage of these cases pose an adequately severe mental health impairment that needs intervention. Roughly one in ten adolescents suffers from substance abuse-related disorders. These conditions cause a decline in academic performance, poor social relations, and emotional hitches.

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Many community surveys have reported prevalence of mood disorders among the youth population. These studies show that about 4% of the youth suffer from major depression. Comparison of prevalence of dysthymia and major depression among the youth population shows that dysthymia is more prevalent than major depression. On the contrary, incidences of minor depression and other depressive disorders are higher than that of major depression in the general population.

Studies on the occurrence of bipolar disease among children and adolescents are not extensive, yet manic and hypomanic conditions are rare in these population groups. However, few community surveys postulate that bipolar disorder prevalence is less than 1% in children below the age of 18 and that of the youth is less than 2%. Incidences of hypomania are not more than 0.4%. These studies further state that bipolar disorder occurrence in males is equal to that in females. Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent among all other psychotic conditions across all ages. However, the incidence of this condition is higher among adults than among children.

Distribution in General Population

There is a prevailing view that psychosis is co-morbid. A clinical definition of psychosis on the sample representing only a minor group of people amongst the general population implies biasness. More research and a consistency view that psychosis can be seen in different other diseases such as diabetes and heart problems are advisable. Proposition about the likelihood of relations between causes of psychosis and environmental risk factors may be significant. However, the general pattern displays transition of non-clinical into clinical states on the whole. Distribution of positive and observable symptoms such as delusion and hallucination is continuous across the general population. Non-clinical estimates indicate a range of between 4% and 17% of those with aforementioned symptoms. Contrary to earlier statistical estimates, prevalence of the psychosis phenotype points out that lifetime prevalence exceeds 3% (Tamminga, Sirovatka, Regier, & Van Os, 2009). Schizotypy, for example, suggests qualitative observable traits rather than quantitative characteristics of psychosis. Further analysis of schizotypal characteristics provides 3-4 dimensions, namely aberrant perceptions or beliefs, introversion, and possible disorganisation in conceptualization. It reinforces the multi-dimensional construct of proneness to psychosis.

Mood disturbance, which is another psychopathological symptom, appears to have a continuous construct in the general population. Sub-threshold depression and hypomania have prevalence rates of 13% and 9% respectively. Experiences and diagnosis of these two symptoms do not fit into other DSM classification but DSM-V. Notably, longitudinal and cross-sectional studies of significant risk factors relating to psychosis support continuity of both clinical and sub-clinical symptoms. Further studies are required to ascertain statistical figures that are currently available. Studies should focus on the youth rather than older persons because the youth are at a higher risk of developing psychotic symptoms. Some longitudinal studies on clinical psychopathology point out that psychosis emerges in samples of the population with psychotic-like features. Non-clinical manic individuals are also more likely to develop clinical manic symptoms. For example, the probability of a person qualifying for incident bipolar disorder is as high as 7% if the individual has both subclinical manic and other psychotic symptoms.


In terms of the attenuated psychosis syndrome (APS), DSM-V shows insufficient evidence to warrant its categorization as a mental disorder in Section II. There are several suggested diagnostic symptoms to measure comprehensively mental states of patients. Attempts to identify markers for successful and consistent steps relating to the development of psychosis have also been explored. Proposed diagnostic criteria of categorising the APS in DSM-V include the following symptoms: delusion, hallucination, and disorganised speech. It is essential to answer the question about significance of highlighting the success of the suggested criteria in DSM-V. Efforts concerning the APS conclusive diagnosis impact and alter statistical conclusions of the previous DSM.

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