Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that studies unusual patterns of behavior, emotion and thought, which may or may not be understood as precipitating a mental disorder. Although many behaviours could be considered as abnormal, this branch of psychology generally deals with behavior in a clinical context. There is a long history of attempts to understand and control behavior deemed to be aberrant or deviant (statistically, morally or in some other sense), and there is often cultural variation in the approach taken. The field of abnormal psychology identifies multiple causes for different conditions, employing diverse theories from the general field of psychology and elsewhere, and much still hinges on what exactly is meant by "abnormal". There has traditionally been a divide between psychological and biological explanations, reflecting a philosophical dualism in regards to the mind body problem. There have also been different approaches in trying to classify mental disorders. Abnormal includes three different categories, they are subnormal, supernormal and paranormal.
The science of abnormal psychology studies two types of behaviors: adaptive and maladaptive behaviors. Behaviors that are maladaptive suggest that some problem(s) exist, and can also imply that the individual is vulnerable and cannot cope with environmental stress, which is leading them to have problems functioning in daily life. Clinical psychology is the applied field of psychology that seeks to assess, understand and treat psychological conditions in clinical practice. The theoretical field known as 'abnormal psychology' may form a backdrop to such work, but clinical psychologists in the current field are unlikely to use the term 'abnormal' in reference to their practice. Psychopathology is a similar term to abnormal psychology but has more of an implication of an underlying pathology (disease process), and as such is a term more commonly used in the medical specialty known as psychiatry.
A mood swing is an extreme or rapid change in mood. Such mood swings can play a positive part in promoting problem solving and in producing flexible forward planning. However, when mood swings are so strong that they are disruptive, they may be the main part of a bipolar disorder.
Mood swings are universal, varying from the microscopic to the wild oscillations of manic depression, so that a continuum can be traced from normal struggles around self-esteem, through cyclothymia, up to a depressive disease. However most people's mood swings remain in the mild to moderate range of emotional ups and downs.
Late Life Depression refers to a major depressive episode occurring for the first time in an older person (usually over 50 or 60 years of age). Depression is not a normal part of aging. However, "more than 2 million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression". Concurrent medical problems and lower functional expectations of elderly patients often obscure the degree of impairment. Typically, elderly patients with depression do not report depressed mood, but instead present with less specific symptoms such as insomnia, anorexia, and fatigue. Elderly persons sometimes dismiss less severe depression as an acceptable response to life stress or a normal part of aging.
Mood disorder is a group of diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV TR) classification system where a disturbance in the person's mood is hypothesized to be the main underlying feature. The classification is known as mood (affective) disorders in ICD 10.
English psychiatrist Henry Maudsley proposed an overarching category of affective disorder. The term was then replaced by mood disorder, as the latter term refers to the underlying or longitudinal emotional state, whereas the former refers to the external expression observed by others.