While many deadly diseases have been cured during the twentieth century, there is also an abundance of conditions that have emerged in the past several decades. Whether they are a product of our technological dependence or they have simply never been recognized before, the last one hundred years have shown us many new psychological disorders. How does the presence of these newly created and/or defined disorders affect the society we live in?
- Social Media Anxiety Disorder: As the internet has consistently expanded in the past two decades, so have social media sites. Social media is something that has no historical comparison, because it is completely a product of our generation. While there are many benefits of being able to connect with almost anyone in the world at any given time, there are also a lot of pressures that come along with presenting yourself on a virtual platform. Because of these pressures, new psychological disorders have also emerged, such as Social Media Anxiety Disorder (SMAD).
SMAD is characterized by intense anxiety about how you are perceived by others on the internet. This is partially a result of the concept known as “discrepancy monitoring,” which is defined as evaluating our own experiences against what we believe our experiences should be. The problem with this is that when we are comparing ourselves with our other Facebook friends, we are only seeing the highlights of other people’s lives on our newsfeed and contrasting them with our own worst experiences.
- Hoarding Disorder: While this disorder used to be viewed as a side effect of obsessive compulsive disorder, recent research shows that hoarding produces a different pattern of brain activity than OCD. Collecting things does not mean that you are a hoarder. Rather, hoarding disorder is characterized by the strong urge to have large quantities of things with no logical need for the items. Because of the new distinction between hoarding and OCD, the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) released in 2013 stated that hoarding disorder is a separate, specific diagnosis.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Similar to pre-menstrual syndrome, PMDD occurs a few days before the onset of a period. The difference lies in the symptoms, which are much worse for PMDD than for PMS. Instead of the mild mood swings and irritability that characterize PMS, the symptoms of PMDD include depression, anxiety, and anger. It wasn’t until 1993 that PMDD became a recognized diagnosis that was unique from regular PMS. Before the distinction was made, all cases of PMDD were treated the same as PMS, which could have resulted in incorrect treatment.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: Even though the variation of moods with the seasons has been acknowledged for some time, the name for the condition was not coined until 1984. The disorder is now defined as depression that is associated with the late autumn and winter months, with a “remission” during the spring and summer. The symptoms associated with SAD are thought to be caused by a lack of light.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Although the first time the term was used wasn’t until 1980, the concept of this disorder has a long and complicated history. The horrors of trench warfare during World War I and their consequential psychological effects were termed “shell shock.” Over the years, and through other wars, many different names were used, such as “combat fatigue,” “battle stress,” and “traumatic war neurosis.” However, doctors were unsure how this disorder should be effectively treated, so for a long time, soldiers and other people who had survived very traumatic experiences were expected to just “get over it.” Now that there is a solid description and definition for this condition, the people who suffer from it as well as the doctors who treat it have a much better understanding of what is going on.