Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pervasive developmental disorders

Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), as opposed to specific developmental disorders (SDD), refers to a group of five disorders characterized by delays in the development of multiple basic functions including socialization and communication. The pervasive developmental disorders are:

* Autism, the most commonly known,
* Rett syndrome,
* Childhood disintegrative disorder,
* Asperger syndrome, and
* Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), which includes atypical autism.

Parents may note symptoms of PDD as early as infancy and typically onset is prior to three years of age. PDD itself does not affect life expectancy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Congenital disorder

Congenital disorder involves defects in or damage to a developing fetus. It may be the result of genetic abnormalities, the intrauterine (uterus) environment, errors of morphogenesis, or a chromosomal abnormality. The outcome of the disorder will further depend on complex interactions between the pre-natal deficit and the post-natal environment.

Congenital disorders vary widely in causation and abnormalities. Any substance that causes birth defects is known as a teratogen. The older term congenital disorder does not necessarily refer to a genetic disorder despite the similarity of the words

* A congenital physical anomaly is an abnormality of the structure of a body part. An anomaly may or may not be perceived as a problem condition. Many, if not most, people have one or more minor physical anomalies if examined carefully. Examples of minor anomalies can include curvature of the 5th finger (clinodactyly), a third nipple, tiny indentations of the skin near the ears (preauricular pits), shortness of the 4th metacarpal or metatarsal bones, or dimples over the lower spine (sacral dimples). Some minor anomalies may be clues to more significant internal abnormalities.

* A congenital malformation is a congenital physical anomaly that is deleterious, i.e. a structural defect perceived as a problem. A typical combination of malformations affecting more than one body part is referred to as a malformation syndrome.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosis which was first made following the Viet Nam war. Veterans who saw combat in Viet Nam were found to have a number of symptoms not clearly documented in any other diagnostic category. In fact, these symptoms had been observed in combat veterans in many previous wars. It seems that PTSD is constantly being rediscovered.

War has always taken a toll. Accounts throughout history tell of nightmares and other emotional problems associated with the horrors of war. It seems that we repeatedly discover the effects of trauma on humans every time we go to war. Terms like "combat fatigue" and "shell shock" were used in the past to describe some of the effects of combat. These terms are misleading because they imply that the effects of combat are short term. In the DSM-IV the term "Acute Stress Disorder" is used for a similar syndrome lasting less than 30 days.

Mental Disorder

A mental illness or mental disorder is a mental health condition assessed as abnormal or maladaptive and involving significant distress or disability. Mental disorder could be of various types. Some of the major mental disorders are phobias, mood disorders, cognitive disorders, personality disorders, Schizophrenia and substance related disorders like alcohol dependence.

In 1982, the Government of India launched the National Mental Health Programme. The main objective of this program was to increase the mental health care infrastructure available for the benefit of the growing amount of mentally challenged people in the country.

The key goals of the National Mental Health Programme are:

* To make sure that minimum mental health care is available and accessible to everyone in the projected future.
* To encourage people to apply mental health knowledge in general health care and social development.
* To promote community participation in the growth of mental health services and to stimulate efforts towards self help.

Mental health is a part of the primary health care system of India. Community care amenities for people with mental disorders are on hand in certain districts. Other than this, various NGOs offer different types of services to patients with mental disorders.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Sleep is the natural state of bodily rest observed in humans and other animals. It is common to all mammals and birds, and is also seen in many reptiles, amphibians and fish. In humans, other mammals, and a substantial majority of other animals which have been studied, such as some species of fish, birds, ants and fruit-flies, regular sleep is essential for survival.

A widely publicized 2003 study performed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine demonstrated that cognitive performance in humans declines with fewer than eight hours of sleep. However, the purposes of sleep are only partly clear and are the subject of intense research.

Criteria for staging, or scoring the stages of sleep, have been changed several times. First described in 1937 by Loomis et al, the staging was changed in 1957 after the discovery of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, standardized in 1968 by Rechtschaffen & Kales (R&K) and most recently in 2007 in The AASM Manual for the Scoring of Sleep and Associated Events published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). In addition to adding arousals and respiratory, cardiac, and movement events, the major change in 2007 was the elimination of Stage 4: in the R&K standard, the difference between Stages 3 and 4 (now combined as 3) was that delta waves made up less than 50% of the total wave-patterns in stage 3, while they were more than 50% in stage 4. The R&K standard included four stages of NREM sleep plus REM, sometimes referred to as "stage 5". The newer standard discontinues stage 4 sleep and leaves only stage 3 to describe deep sleep, also known as delta or slow-wave sleep.