Psychological Disorders

What are Psychological Disorders?

A psychological disorder is an invisible disability that may affect people of all ages. Limitations are not usually intellectual in nature, although the age of onset may affect the extent and type of disruption of learning and vocational goals.

A psychological disability reflects a mental condition that interferes with a major life activity. Examples include: major depression, Bipolar disorder, obsessive/compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. There are exceptions of conditions identified in the Americans with Disabilities Act (28 CFR 35.1040) These exceptions include diagnoses such as gender disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, and substance abuse.



  • Lack of affect.
  • Feelings of anxiety or fear.
  • Depressed mood.
  • Feeling worthless.
  • Inappropriate guilt.
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger.


  • Short term memory problems
  • Time perception and planning difficulties.
  • Extreme self-absorption.
  • Concentration problems.
  • Difficulties with screening environmental stimuli.
  • Distractibility
  • Recurrent suicidal ideation


  • Impulsiveness.
  • Repetitive motion.
  • Speech may be rambling, halting, weak, pressured or incoherent.
  • Muscle tension
  • Pacing
  • Fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep).


  • Lack of support system
  • Interpersonal conflict.
  • Detachment or estrangement from others.


  • Drowsiness
  • Thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Hand tremors

How can the professor help?

Instructional strategies include:

  • Spend extra time with the student during office hours when necessary, and assist the student with planning and time management.
  • Be flexible with deadlines when possible.
  • Permit the student to tape record lectures.
  • Give advance notice of assignments and clearly define course requirements, the dates of exams, and when assignments are due; provide advance notice of any changes.
  • When in doubt about how to assist the student, ask him or her.
  • Allow the student the same anonymity as other students (i.e. avoid pointing out the student or the alternative arrangements to the rest of the class)
  • Encourage student to discuss functional limits.
  • Give immediate and honest feedback when behavior is inappropriate. Suggest acceptable behavior. Set clear boundaries and goals with the student.
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