Aggressive and violent behavior - the result of malfunction in the neural circuit regulating emotion
Rizk, Nina Camille
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Mental illness is currently diagnosed using subjective observational criteria as outlined in the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V), yet many have argued for the medicalization of the diagnosis of mental illness by incorporating biomedical and neuroanatomical criteria. The following literature review explores the neural circuit responsible for regulating emotion, as well as the structural and chemical alterations to this circuit that have been shown to correlate with aggressive and/or violent behaviors characteristic of certain types of mental illness. The neural circuit regulating emotion is comprised of the prefrontal cortex, the subcortical limbic system, the dopaminergic pathway, the serotonergic pathway, catecholaminergic neurons, and GABAergic neurons. Alterations to these structures or chemicals have been associated with major depressive disorder, suicidal ideations, substance use disorders, schizophrenia, and personality disorders. Medicalization of mental illness has the potential to serve two purposes – first, to standardize diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, and second, to decrease the stigma often associated with mental illness – and to improve outcomes for those patients living with mental illness.
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