The diagnostic and statistical manual was established by some very smart people.
Psychiatrists, psychologists and many other established professionals in the field of mental health worked for years analyzing symptoms to create definitions of disorders that could be categorized and used by all other mental health professionals as a guide for helping others.
That was a long sentence to more simply say, this is where professionals go to make a diagnosis.
Making a diagnosis is never an easy task, and should not be an easy task. Aside from the diagnostic and statistical manual, there are many assessments and psychological testing that needs to take place to determine exactly what type of problem a person has before creating a treatment plan.
Most people are diagnosed with a common disorder category, such as generalized anxiety disorder or depression, not otherwise specified. They do this to give you a quick first diagnosis. A quick first diagnosis is needed for the insurance companies who won’t pay anybody anything unless they have a diagnosis. So, you get your first general diagnosis that can later be changed to reflect a more accurate diagnosis and sub-diagnoses.
For instance, a person in therapy could have a diagnosis of depression but with sub-categories of grief and alcohol abuse.
If you are honest with your therapist and offer them true insight into your issues, they may even pick up on some rare mental health disorders that could go untreated. Some of these less common disorders include issues with daydreaming, night eating, perfectionism, sound rage, and distorted perceptions. While they may seem minor, they could turn into major hindrances if left untreated.
Who doesn’t love daydreaming? This is a time of zoning out mentally, ignoring the activities going on around you while you think of more pleasant experiences. You know, like when you are in the most boring class ever, the history of polka dancing, and your head sort of drifts towards the window and your mind drifts into a dream. You are dancing but it is not polka. You dance your way through parks and on stage and even on airplanes. No one said daydreaming was realistic. But it does take you away from reality and gives you a mental escape.
Introduced by Eli Somer in 2002, maladaptive daydreaming is different than regular daydreaming. It is defined as an excessive amount of daydreaming that may consume your wake time. Watch Somer’s video explanation of maladaptive daydreaming.
When daydreaming becomes compulsive, it can interfere with many aspects of a person’s life. A person normally zones out (daydreams, thoughts go blank, etc.) around 40 times a day. If you find yourself daydreaming or zoning out more than this, tell your counselor. You could be experiencing maladaptive daydreaming.
Do you think you excessively daydream during your waking hours? Take this questionnaire about maladaptive daydreaming. This is not research based, evidence based, and does not guarantee you have this disorder. However, it will give you a great idea of what to look for in your daydreaming behaviors.
If you and your counselor do find that you are a compulsive daydreamer and it is interfering with your daily tasks, there are ways to help you get over this issue. Treatment for maladaptive daydreaming includes avoiding triggers that lead you to daydreaming. These may include a particular type of music, a certain television show, or even just a smell. Once you recognize your triggers you can know how to control it.
Night Eating Syndrome
There are two kinds of night eating disorders: sleep eating disorder and night eating syndrome. Sleep eating disorder happens when a person is actually asleep. They sleep walk to the kitchen and eat and they don’t even know they are doing it.
Night eating syndrome is when you eat most of your food for the day late at night. In fact, you rarely eat anything for breakfast and little else throughout the day but when night comes, it’s game on. This disorder has been linked to many obesity cases.
This is a pretty common problem yet it doesn’t show up in the diagnosis section under sub-categories for a more prevalent disorder very often. Instead, the topic gets brushed over during discussions.
You know it’s a problem that you can’t stop. Each day you tell yourself you are not going to eat past 8:00pm. You are going to eat breakfast, a healthy lunch, eat supper at 6pm and that will be it for the day. But the day plays out with you skipping breakfast, eating lunch around 2pm after your blood sugars have dropped so low that you may get fired from work due to having a bad attitude. Then you get home and get hungry again around 8pm. You start with something small and that turns into a full on graze until 10pm or 11pm, until you are so full that you only want to fall into bed and sleep. And then the next day begins.
You do not have to live this way, however. Change is very possible and working with your counselor who can hold you accountable and offer encouragement, you can stop night eating.
Treatment of night eating syndrome is mostly learning how to change your behaviors by following a structured plan you create to replace your nightly eating habits with more positive activities. This plan will also teach you how to eat properly throughout the day but it will be up to you to implement the plan.
Other treatments include cognitive behavioral therapies and in some cases, the anti-depressant Zoloft has had a positive effect.
To be worried about how well you do at your job, or wanting to look nice when you go out shopping are good things. To want to excel at a hobby or lose weight to get healthy are also really good goals. They are healthy levels of worry that keep you motivated to do your best. However, some people go way past the healthy level and into the “this could ruin my life” level of trying to be perfect.
Atelophobia is defined as the fear of being imperfect; but often people use the term perfectionist. Many times this term is used in a joke to describe someone else or yourself. But you know there is a little truth in every joke. And to joke about it may be a hint that deep down it is bothering you.
Atelophobia is an anxiety disorder due to the constant worry of not being good enough. Your brain keeps focusing on the negative aspects of your life versus the positive. Instead of telling you that you are doing a great job at work, it tells you your life could be better, or YOU will be better, if you get that promotion. It tells you if you could lose twenty pounds then more people would like you. Or maybe your atelophobia is incorporated in your job, not allowing you to finish a project due to the many corrections you feel you need to make. Whatever the case, there are many ways to treat this disorder with the help of your counselor.
Symptoms can mirror those of a panic attack or strong anxiety. You may feel your heartbeat increase dramatically, feeling a loss of control, and fearing something bad is going to happen. Recognizing symptoms is key to overcoming the disorder.
Treatments for atelophobia include cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy and even you just putting in the effort to research and learn how to overcome your fears so you can have a heathier outlook about yourself and your life.
Misophonia (Sound Rage)
There are four types of sound sensitivity disorders. Hyperacusis is when a person cannot tolerate normal environmental sounds. Like when a cricket is chirping while you are trying to fall asleep. To anyone else the chirping is helping in falling asleep. To you, it’s like nails scratching on a chalkboard. It becomes more and more noticeable until you can’t fall asleep due to your anger. By the time the cricket stops it is time to wake up and you are mad.
Recruitment happens when people with hearing loss have a perceived loudness of sound in their pitch region. Hypersensitive hearing of sound frequencies usually happens at birth and makes it hard for you to hear sounds above a certain number of decibels.
Misophonia is when a person is bothered by certain sounds, so much so that they can become enraged by their trigger sounds. This is similar to hyperacusis but the sounds are man-made.
Some common trigger sounds include the clicking of a pen, humming, snoring, throat clearing, ticking of a clock, chainsaws, dogs barking, baby crying or if the television or radio is too loud. This is a short list of examples believe it or not. There may be triggers you haven’t even met yet. This is why it is so important to get this disorder under control as soon as you notice signs.
There is no specific cure for this disorder but there are several professionals you can reach out to for help in treating the problem. You can get treatment from an audiologist, psychologist, psychiatrist or a neurologist.
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Some people compare this to taking a hit of acid, only without taking the hit of acid. Sort of like hallucinating, the Alice in wonderland syndrome describes a person who perceives their body parts or other objects incorrectly. Some people with Alice in wonderland syndrome feel they become either smaller or larger, physically, in comparison to their surroundings. It gets its name from the movie Alice in Wonderland, obviously. But what you may not know is that the writer of this tale had symptoms such as this in real life. Thankfully, he funneled his symptoms through creative writing.
There are five sub-categories of this disorder. Micropsia is when objects appear smaller than they are. If you look down at your hand and it appears to be the size of a golf ball, you may be dealing with micropsia.
Teleopsia is when objects appear farther off than they actually are. If you are driving this disorder can be very dangerous if you think the car in front of you is a mile ahead of you when it may be only a few yards away.
Macropsia is when objects appear larger than they actually are. Opposite of micropsia, if you look down at your hand and it is the size of a soccer ball, something is wrong.
Metamorphopsia is where lines appeared curvy, wavy, warped or blank.
Pelopsia is when objects appear nearer than they actually are. Just like it reads on the side mirrors of your vehicle, objects may appear closer than they actually are.
While this can be caused by migraines, brain injuries or other head traumas, there is no real treatment for this disorder. The best thing you can do is work with your counselor and doctor to treat the issue that caused the problem.
If your migraines cause Alice in wonderland syndrome, then work on easing the migraines. If you had a brain injury that causes symptoms, work with your counselor and a neurologist to find ways to cope. This disorder may not be totally fixable but there are professionals out there who can help you recognize your symptoms and take action to correct them before they get out of hand.
Where to Start
Talking to someone about your symptoms and getting a clear idea of which rare disorder you may have is the first step. It is important to find out if you actually have it or not and this is done by a trained Psychiatrist or Psychologist.
You may just be going through a phase and the symptoms are related to the situation, meaning they are temporary and will clear up once you are out of that situation. Or, it may be that you are truly experiencing one of these rare mental health disorders.
Document your symptoms in detail: when they happen, where they happen, possible triggers, how you deal with them and how they are affecting your life. This will be great information to share with a professional, the next step.
Choose a therapist that is knowledgeable in the area you have concerns. Okay, this may be difficult but not impossible. These are rare disorders but a really good doctor or counselor will know about it and how to treat it. Don’t be afraid to ask around and do your own pre-interview with them to see if they are the right fit for you. Do your own research and prepare yourself for making changes in your life that can ease the symptoms of these disorders. You are more than capable of tackling this problem. You are in control of your mental health, you just have to commit and go for it!