Psychoemotional disorders are a group of mental disorders and individual pathopsychological symptoms that are manifested by an increase, inadequacy, excessive lability or stiffness of emotions. Affective disorders accompanied by such disorders include depression, mania, apathy, increased irritability and others. Diagnosis is carried out by clinical methods, with the help of psychodiagnostic questionnaires, projective tests. Treatment involves taking medications (antidepressants, tranquilizers), psychotherapy sessions.

General characteristics

Emotions are mental states that reflect a person’s attitude to events, to people and to himself. Emotional reactions consist of three components: a sense of experience, a change in physiological processes and the appearance of external expressive complexes. In other words, a person feels an emotion (joy, anger, fear, sadness), experiences changes in the work of the body (sweating, palpitation) and expresses his state with the help of facial expressions, gestures.

Emotional states acquire a pathological character when their duration, intensity and content do not correspond to the situation, bring physical and psychological discomfort. Psychoemotional disorders are characterized by unreasonableness and inadequacy of affect, do not fit into the usual time frame, interfere with the performance of social functions, are perceived as painful or are not realized by the person himself.

Mechanism of development

In psychology, there are two groups of factors contributing to the development of psychoemotional disorders: internal conditions and external influences. The internal conditions include the features of the cognitive sphere: thoughts, ideas, fantasies. A negative assessment of events provokes negative emotions. Another group of internal factors are the psychophysiological features of the body. The biological basis of emotions is the neurohumoral processes of the limbic and diencephalic systems of the brain, the exchange of serotonin, adrenaline, norepinephrine, dopamine. An imbalance of these substances leads to the development of affect disorders.

Reactions to external environmental conditions are innate and conditioned. Genetically embedded ways of reacting – fear, aggression – are the basis for the formation of more complex emotional and behavioral patterns. In the course of life, the development of affective disorders is facilitated by the processes of experiencing and consolidating traumatic experience. The repetition or partial similarity of current events with the past, which caused negative experiences, becomes the cause of psychoemotional disorders.


Emotional disorders can be independent disorders or components of other mental illnesses. Pathological enhancement of emotions is manifested by an increase in their intensity while maintaining adequate content. This group of disorders includes:

  1. Depression. The structure of depressive states is dominated by low mood, depression. Patients feel anxiety, a sense of inferiority. Everyday difficulties are perceived by them as insurmountable, provoke crying, despondency, unwillingness to do anything.
  2. Mania. Manic states are manifested by increased mood, accelerated pace of mental activity, increased physical activity. A person becomes hyperactive, fussy, strives for achievements, for learning new things, but he lacks concentration and focus.
  3. Euphoria. In euphoria, carelessness, high mood, and infantilism prevail in people. Critical abilities and a serious attitude to situations are reduced. Passivity and excessive complacency do not allow you to perform daily duties.

Another variant of psychoemotional disorders is the weakening of emotions. Regardless of the events taking place – joyful, sad, provoking aggression – people remain indifferent or experience weak feelings that do not correspond to the significance of the situation. Examples of such disorders:

  1. Emotional flattening. With some mental illnesses, for example, with schizophrenia, emotions become impoverished – they become monotonous, primitive, weakly expressed. With severe variants, only some manifestation of discontent in situations of discomfort remains. Other events – meetings with relatives, the loss of a loved one – do not cause any emotions.
  2. Apathy. The state of apathy is characteristic of patients with depression. There is a general decrease in all emotional reactions. The patient is indifferent to what is happening, unable to experience joy, sadness, fear, anger. Apathy is often combined with a decrease in motor activity and abulia – pathological lack of will, the inability to start any action.

With violations of the mobility of emotions, a person’s ability to control the duration of the experience changes. This is manifested by jamming, suddenness or a rapid uncontrolled change of emotional states. There are several variants of dynamic aspect disorder:

  1. Emotional lability. With affective lability, emotions easily arise, quickly replace each other, depend on fleeting external events or random memories. Such conditions are considered the norm in early childhood, when a child’s tears are suddenly replaced by laughter, but in adults they are a sign of emotional disturbance.
  2. Explosiveness. This term denotes emotional explosiveness. After a period of calmness, a person suddenly shows anger, irritation, anger, and then just as quickly returns to a state of equilibrium. During explosive outbreaks, aggression and provocation of conflicts are possible.
  3. Inertia. Synonyms of inertia are jamming, stiffness. Such people experience one emotion for a long time, they cannot distract themselves and arbitrarily change it, they are in a state of irritability, longing, bitterness.

The most striking psychoemotional disorders are violations of adequacy. Inadequate emotional manifestations are classified as pathological according to the content criterion: what a person feels has no connection with his thoughts or external events. This group includes:

  1. Inadequacy. With emotional inadequacy, a person experiences and demonstrates emotions that are completely inappropriate for the situation. For example, there is laughter in response to the news of the death of people, outbursts of anger when meeting a loved one (mother, friend).
  2. Ambivalence. Individuals with schizophrenia often experience ambivalence – the simultaneous existence of opposite emotions. This condition is difficult for a healthy person to understand. Outwardly, it manifests itself as a constant, unconditioned change of joy and longing, tenderness and anger, anger and tearful weakness.
  3. Emotional tension. Inappropriate experiences may include non-objective fear, unmotivated anxiety, an inexplicable feeling of bitterness or dissatisfaction with oneself. In such conditions, people are under emotional stress, but they cannot determine what causes it. They usually say: “my soul is restless,” “suddenly my soul goes to my heels.”

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