Behavioral health, also referred to as mental health, is the way that a person thinks, and their emotional reaction to situations. Behavioral health also includes the different methods of promoting wellbeing, and the prevention of mental illnesses. According to Holmes (2014), behavioral health is much more than the absence of mental illness. It includes a person’s ability to enjoy life that is determined by their psychological resilience, and their ability to balance their life. It also includes a person’s flexibility to new ideas and their level of self actualization. Examples of behavioral disorders include Anxiety, Depression, Attention Deficit Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Paranoid Disorders and Delusions among others.
This paper shall include a literature review of two mental disorders using two different research methods. The first study will be done using the descriptive research method whereby it will seek to explain what the phenomenon in question is. The second one will be done using the epidemiological research method whereby the research shall seek to explain the nature of the behavioral illness in depth. It shall involve the study of case series and case control studies. After that, the paper shall review the effectiveness of each method of research and determine the best one to apply in research related to behavioral health.
Key Terms: Descriptive research, Epidemiological research, behavioral health
Definition of Terms
Descriptive research is a method of research used in behavioral health. Descriptive research is carried out with the purpose of establishing the characteristic of the phenomena under study. It seeks to answer “what” are the characteristics of the population under study. It does not seek to answer the “why” and “how” questions. Descriptive research is the research method that precedes explanatory research where the “how” and “why” questions are addressed. Qualitative research has the aspect of descriptive research before explanations set it.
Epidemiological research is a research method whose purpose is to obtain the causes of health and disease conditions among specific populations . It also seeks to determine their effects. Epidemiological research is mainly applied in the investigation of outbreaks, disease etiology and surveillance, biomonitoring and the comparison of the effects of different treatments as in clinical trials. According to Porta (2008), epidemiologists rely on a number of scientific disciplines when carrying out epidemiological research. These are such as biology, which helps in understanding the processes of the disease; statistics for professional collection, presentation and interpretation of data, and social sciences for objective determination of possible distal and proximal causes.
Behavioral Health is the state of psychological wellbeing . It is also known as mental health. From the “positive psychology” perspective, behavioral health is the ability of a person to enjoy life and attain psychological resilience. A person who has behavioral health problems can be successfully treated with psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both. This usually depends on the severity of the mental illness being experienced .
The literature review covers Anxiety and Paranoid disorder. The research on Paranoid disorder was conducted using the epidemiological method whereas the research on anxiety was conducted using the descriptive method.
- Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)
According to Elett, Lopes & Chadwick (2003), nearly half of the population of American college students experience paranoid thinking. Paranoid Personality Disorder is among “Cluster A” personality disorders. It involves an eccentric way of thinking. People with PPD also experience paranoia. Paranoia is a state of unrelenting mistrust and unnecessary suspicion of others. Cases of PPD are common in adulthood. They are also found to be more prevalent in men than in women. Among the common beliefs of persons with PPD include: others are always exploiting them, close associates such as friends are dishonest with them, confidential information will be used for malicious purposes, there is a deeper meaning hidden to them in remarks regarded by others as benign and that their partner is unfaithful (pathological jealousy/ Othello syndrome).
According to epidemiological studies, personality disorder affects about 4% to 11% of the UK population. Personality disorder was also found to affect about 65% of the prison population. In fact, according to Health.am (2005), the lifetime prevalence of paranoia affects about 0.5% to 2.5% of the world’s general population.
A case study is given of a woman who believed that her neighbors were deliberately harassing her by allowing their children to make noise outside her apartment. Instead of talking it out with her neighbors, she started exhibiting extreme antagonistic behaviors towards them. She could brush against them aggressively along the hallways, give them “dirty looks,” and even treated her neighbors’ visitors rudely. Confrontation with her neighbors concerning her behavior did not change anything. The neighbors described her as an ever angry woman who seldom smiled. She was withdrawn and constantly wore sunglasses even on cloudy days. She was always shouting at children and was even nicknamed “the screamer.” She was constantly transferring her children from school to school because she was rarely satisfied with the education they were receiving. Her conversations with other people were described as sarcastic and hypocritical and her job did not entail constant social interaction with people. She worked in the house.
This case study illustrates many central features of PPD as given in the DCM-IV . These are such as the belief that everybody is out to harm them (PPD Criterion 1), interpreting malevolent intentions from otherwise benign situations (PPD Criterion 4) and holding into grudges (PPD Criterion 5). Her paranoia is evident in her hostility, isolation and unnecessary tension .
According to DSM-III and DSM-III-R criteria for PPD, PPD is experienced by 0.5% to 2.5% of the general population. Among psychiatric outpatients, PPD is experienced by about 2% to 10% of them. It is also experienced by 2% to 10% of in patients. In terms of the diagnostic comorbidity of PPD, symptoms of "Cluster A" disorders are prevalent among patients of PPD .
An Experimental Study on the Prevalence of PPD among the Senior People
Background: Elderly people suffering from PPD are a group that is difficult to handle. However, the prevalence of PPD is not as high as theoretically portrayed among the elderly populations.
Method: A community sample of 1420 seniors was taken and examined in depth by nurses and physicians.
Results: Only 6.3% of the sample was found to be suffering from paranoid disorder. The number of people with cognitive dysfunction (n=381; 12.1%) was higher than that of those without (n=1039; 2.6%). Of the cognitive impairments, one had been controlled and the variables that were there included being female, being divorced, under the use of psychotropic drugs, having no friends or having depressive symptoms .
Etymology of PPD
The environmental factors that contribute to the development of PPD include past traumatic events such as physical abuse, rape or natural disasters. This is so according to a longitudinal study by .
- Anxiety Disorder
According to Web MD.Com (2014), anxiety Disorders are feelings of fear and worry about events that are yet to occur. These feelings may be recognized by physical observable symptoms such as shakiness and a racing heart. In a normal human being, anxiety is a normal occurrence that takes place when one is faced with a serious problem. However, it becomes a disorder if such feelings result in distress. Anxiety is termed as a disorder when it interferes with the patient’s ability to lead a normal lifestyle. The term “anxiety” covers several experiences that an individual is likely to experience. They include mental apprehension and physical symptoms such as tension. Anxiety disorders accompany other mental disorders such as major depressive disorder, eating disorders and bipolar disorders.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several recognized kinds of personality disorders. They include:
- Panic disorder: This disorder is characterized by panic attacks. A person experiences sudden feelings of terror apprehension. These attacks take place repeatedly. A panic attack is characterized by chest pains, palpitations and feelings of choking when it is not the case. During a panic attack. There is usually hyper-vigilance of body functioning in some cases. Sometimes the body interprets any form of physiological change as a life threatening condition.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes an individual to have constant fears. It is characterized by repetitive obsessions and compulsions. The repetitive obsessions are such as the occurrence of constant repetitive thoughts or images. These obsessions result in compulsions such as the repetitive performance of certain behaviors or rituals.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that develops after the occurrence of a traumatic event. Such cases include sexual abuse, physical assault, the death of a close person or a natural disaster. The symptoms of PTSD are such as hyper vigilance, avoidance behavior, flashbacks, anger, anxiety and even depression. People with PTSD tend to be emotionally numb.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): SAD is the excessive fear of negative public scrutiny. A person with social anxiety disorder fears public humiliation and sometimes even social interaction in general. The physical manifestations of SAD include blushing, sweating and even losing the ability to speak. Severe cases of social anxiety disorders result in complete isolation.
- Phobias: A phobia is an extreme unexplained fear of a person, situation or an object. Between 5% and 12% of the world’s population experiences phobias.
According to the studies, behavioral disorders are important to address because they are the reason behind more than 90% of the world’s suicides . Mental health includes a person’s ability to cope with situations in their environment and solve problems facing them in a rational manner.
Advantages, Challenges of the Methods
The epidemiological method has its advantages in that it provides facts of figures of case studies. The information is reliable and valid because it is not based on theories. However, there is a chance of random sampling error. It occurs as a result of inaccurate sample collection, poorly worded questions (in cases of interviews and questionnaires) or a misunderstanding in the interpretation of answers. This is especially likely in the epidemiological study of the prevalence of PPD among the elderly people. The sample of 1420 seniors used to represent the world’s prevalence of PPD was most likely inaccurate. This is because PPD has both environmental and genetic risk factors. Picking that particular sample in a particular community is not representative of the entire world’s population. Epidemiological study is also subject to selection and information biases. This is especially so where the subjects being sampled demand to be included even when they did not fall under the bracket of the subjects to be sampled.
The descriptive research method proves to be very useful in the wide understanding of the nature of anxiety. Anxiety is defined in depth and expounded for further understanding. However, this research method cannot be relied upon for full information on the subject; it is limited to the descriptive statement of the condition. For this research method to bring forth complete information concerning the condition, it has to be backed by other research methods such as epidemiology.
According to the available information, Paranoid Personality Disorder can affect anyone if they do not practice proper coping mechanisms. The article and literature review also reveal that PPD can result in acts of violence. Anxiety is another behavioral disorder that takes away the social life of a person. It affects every facet of a person’s life and without the proper treatment, it results in suicide. This is especially common among loners. Anxiety is exhibited by people suffering from different behavioral disorders such as depression. According to the study, detailed diagnosis of the disorder for accurate results is necessary. The research methods used, Epidemiology and Descriptive research methods are different in the way they are conducted. However, each of these two research methods should be used when a researcher knows exactly what it is they want. This is because they tend to have varying scopes of coverage and the information provided is different.
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