Childhood Mental Health Disorders ...continued

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~ Anxiety: Anxious children are often overly tense or uptight. Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their worries may interfere with activities. Other anxious children may be quiet, compliant and eager to please, causing  their difficulties to be overlooked. Caregivers should be alert to the signs of severe anxiety, so they can intervene early to prevent complications. It is important not to discount a child's fears. If signs of anxiety are persistent, a qualified child mental health professional should be consulted.

Severe anxiety problems in children can be treated. Early treatment can prevent future difficulties, such as, loss of friendships, failure to reach social and academic potential, and feelings of low self-esteem. Treatments may include individual psychotherapy, family therapy, medications, and behavioral treatments.

~ Depression: The behavior of depressed children and teenagers may differ from the behavior of depressed adults. Child and adolescent psychiatrists advise parents to be aware of signs of depression in their children.

If one or more of these signs of depression persist, the caregiver should seek help.  Early diagnosis and medical treatment are essential for depressed children. This is a real illness that requires professional help.

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
  • Hopelessness
  • Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
  • Persistent boredom; low energy
  • Social isolation, poor communication
  • Low self esteem and guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • Poor concentration
  • A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Talk of or efforts to run away from home
  • Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self destructive behavior

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~ Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): Children who exhibit signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder need a comprehensive psychiatric assessment and individualized treatment plan. These signs or symptoms may also be found in other psychiatric disorders. A child should never be given this label or diagnosis without a comprehensive evaluation. Treatment of this complex disorder involves both the child and the family. Without treatment, this condition can permanently effect a child's social and emotional development.

Symptoms of attachment difficulties may include but are not limited to:

  • Lack of impulse control

  • Intense displays of anger (rage)

  • Unable to give or receive affection

  • Inappropriately attaches to strangers

  • Lack of remorse and conscience

  • Lack of eye contact

  • Self-destructive behavior

  • Destruction of property

  • Aggression toward others

  • Oppositional - frequently defies rules

  • Cruelty to animals

  • Sexually acting out

  • Preoccupation with fire, gore, or evil

  • Cannot tolerate limits and external control

  • Inappropriately demanding and clingy

  • Crazy lying or stealing

  • Hoarding

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Mood swings

  • Bossy

  • Refusing to eat / eating disorders

  • Persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter

  • Learning disorders

  • Speech problems

  • Wetting or soiling self

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~ Conduct Disorder: Children or adolescents with conduct disorders may exhibit some of the following behaviors:

Aggression to people and animals

  • Bullies, threatens or intimidates others
  • Oten initiates physical fights
  • Has used a weapon that could cause serious physical harm to others (e.g. a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, or gun)
  • Is physically cruel to peole or animals
  • Steals from a vistim while confronting them (e.g. assault)
  • forces someone into sexual activity

Destruction of Property

  • Deliberately engaged in fire setting with the intention to cause damage
  • Deliberately destroys other's property

Deceitfulness, lying, or stealing

  • Has broken into someone else's building, house, or car
  • Lies to obtain goods, or favors or to avoid obligations
  • Steals items without confronting a victim (e.g. shoplifting, but without breaking and entering)

Serious violations of rules

  • Often stays out at night despite parental objections
  • Runs away from home
  • Often truant from school

Children who exhibit these behaviors should receive a comprehensive evaluation. Many children with a conduct disorder may have coexisting conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, ADHD, learning problems, or thought disorders which can also be treated. Research shows that youngsters with conduct disorder are likely to have ongoing problems if they and their families do not receive early and comprehensive treatment. Without treatment, many youngsters with conduct disorder are unable to adapt to the demands of adulthood and continue to have problems with relationships and holding a job. They often break laws or behave in an antisocial manner.

Many factors may contribute to a child developing conduct disorder, including brain damage, child abuse, genetic vulnerability, school failure, and traumatic life experiences.

Treatment of children with conduct disorder can be complex and challenging. Treatment can be provided in a variety of different settings depending on the severity of the behaviors. Adding to the challenge of treatment are the child's uncooperative attitude, fear and distrust of adults. In developing a comprehensive treatment plan, a child and adolescent psychiatrist may use information from the child, family, teachers, and other medical specialties to understand the causes of the disorder.

~  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Children with PTSD may show the following symptoms:

  • Worry about dying at an early age
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Sudden and extreme emotional reactions
  • Problems falling or staying asleep
  • Irritability or angry outbursts
  • Problems concentrating
  • Act younger than their age (for example, clingy, whiny behavior, or thumb sucking)
  • Increased alertness to the environment
  • Repeating  behavior that reminds them of the trauma

The symptoms of PTSD may last from several months to many years. Once the trauma has occurred, early intervention is very important. Creating an environment of safety is essential and behavior modification techniques and cognitive therapy may help reduce fears and worries. Medication may also be useful to deal with agitation, anxiety, or depression. With the sensitivity and support of families and professionals, children and adolescents with PTSD can learn to cope with the memories of the trauma and learn to live normal healthy lives.

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Children experience depression and anxiety as well as adults

RAD, reactive attachment disorder, is a serious psychiatric disorder that can permanently affect a child's social and emotional development. However, only a professional using a comprehensive assessment can diagnose this disorder. Through proper training with online msn programs it is possible to bring comfort to the lives of stressed children.

Children may experience PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when they have experienced major trauma in their lives.

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