Health and Disease

ADHD, ASD, and Schizophrenia

There are several psychological disorders and if we begin to study them one by one, we will be able to observe very distinct characteristics in each one. However, the scope of this article covers 3 common psychological disorders and includes a brief but explanatory profiling of each

By Neha Menon

Published 1:00 AM EST, Sun May 30, 2021

Introduction – Psychological Disorders

Psychological disorders or mental illnesses are explained by the DSM-5: “…as a syndrome characterized by​ a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognitive, emotion regulation, or behaviour that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental process underlying mental functioning.”[1]

This definition by the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, broadly classifies certain disorders or abnormalities under a vast topic: psychological disorders. There are several psychological disorders and if we begin to study them one by one, we will observe distinct characteristics in each one. The scope of this article is to discuss 3 common psychological disorders: ASD, ADHD, and schizophrenia.

ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASD is most commonly diagnosed by the age of 2-3 with obvious symptoms. It is a complex developmental condition that challenges verbal & non-verbal communication, social interactions and repetitive or restricted behaviours. Autism is regarded as a “spectrum” disorder because of the range and severity of symptoms that can differ across patients. Some people with this disorder may also have intellectual delays. What’s more interesting about people with ASD is that the person’s cognitive functioning may either be delayed/challenged or very gifted. Some signs or symptoms amongst others that may indicate the existence of the disorder are as follows[2][3]:

  • have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
  • avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their feelings
  • prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
  • appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
  • Getting upset by slight changes in a routine

Why is Autism called Autism Spectrum Disorder? (2020, July 13). Retrieved from

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder in children. It can continue into adulthood as well and is commonly spotted and recognised during the early years of learning when a child is seen to have issues paying attention—this is the most common and obvious symptom. These symptoms are grouped into three types: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive and combined. You may have heard the term ADD to describe a condition similar to ADHD. The difference is simply that ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder, is an outdated term. ADHD is the current overarching name of the condition. The term ADHD became official in May 2013, when the APA released the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).

Despite the infamous and predominant nature of the disorder, doctors and researchers do not know exactly what causes it, however, reduced dopamine is said to be a factor in it. Some signs or symptoms amongst others that may indicate the existence of the disorder are as follows:

  • Seem to not listen when spoken to directly
  • Fail to not follow through on instructions, fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace, or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get easily sidetracked
  • Have problems organizing tasks and activities, such as doing tasks in sequence, keeping materials and belongings in order, keeping work organized, managing time, and meeting deadlines
  • Avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework, or for teens and older adults, preparing reports, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers
  • Lose things necessary for tasks or activities, such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones
  • Become easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
  • Forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments


Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that causes patients to interpret reality abnormally. This can range from delusions to hallucinations. Keeping symptoms under control requires lifelong treatment. It usually appears in late adolescence or early adulthood. Schizophrenia can be divided into negative and positive, wherein negative indicates lack of psychosis and positive indicates its presence. Some signs or symptoms amongst others that may indicate the existence of the disorder are as follows[4]:

  • confused speech that is hard for others to understand
  • lack of facial expression
  • lack of emotional expression
  • lack of motivation
  • difficulty concentrating
  • psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations

According to NIMH, the cause for the disorder is when environmental factors combine with genetic factors. 

Schizophrenia Treatment in Ludhiana, Punjab. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Psychological disorders–including but not limited to the ones discussed above–are widely present in a large number of people. They require treatment and care, but above all, understanding. Everyone’s brain is wired uniquely. Certain abnormalities in the wiring that leads to mental disorders are no fault of the person and this is the most important thing to keep in mind while dealing with people who have mental disorders. However, it is important to note that improving mental health opportunities is still an area we need to improve on globally.

Neha Menon, Youth Medical Journal 2021


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). (n.d.). Retrieved from [1]

Autism Spectrum Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from[2]

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? (2020, March 25). Retrieved from[3]

ADHD: Symptoms, Types, Testing, and Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Schizophrenia: Symptoms, causes, and treatments. (n.d.). Retrieved from[4]

Schizophrenia. (2020, January 07). Retrieved from[5]


By Neha Menon

Neha is a student from India who is passionate about psychology and neuroscience and loves researching on these topics. She hopes to build a career around clinical psychology.

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