Psychological Disorders in Children Essay

To date, most research on mental illness and disorders have centered on adults. However, mental health community has now begun to focus on mental illness in children. Researchers are looking at childhood development in terms of what is normal and abnormal, trying to understand how factors affecting development can have an impact on mental health.

The goal is to try to predict, and ultimately, prevent developmental problems that could lead to mental illness.

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A key part of this research is the identification of risk factors that increase a child’s chances of developing a mental disorder.

In addition, the mental health community is calling for additional research on medications used to treat children with mental disorders. Mental illness and disorders can derive from multiple sources in children throughout their development.

One is hereditary, such as when the mother of father pass down the genes that cause the mental illness or make the child vulnerable to the illness, environmental stress may trigger a suppressed disorder if the child is vulnerable to mental illness.Another condition that a child will possibly develop a mental disorder is biological, meaning that neurotransmitters may not help send messages to the brain correctly or if the child has had an injury to certain areas of the brain. Psychological trauma can cause a child to develop a mental illness, such as loss of a parent or grandparent at an early age, neglect, physical or sexual and emotional abuse. “The U.

S Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and with peers. ” (1) Mental illnesses in children can be treated but not prevented because of all the factors that can be present in a child’s life. There are many forms of treatment for children, not just psychotropic drug treatment, most parents attempt to help a child with a form or therapy rather than drugs as not to endanger the child in possible addiction to the drugs themselves.A few forms of treatment are “Cognitive Therapy, Behavior Therapy, Interpersonal Psychotherapy , Multisystemic Therapy, and Family Therapy.

” (2) There are many different types of disorders that children may develop in their lifetimes. As mentioned above they may be predisposed by heredity or biology, and even environmental stress can cause a child to develop a psychological disorder. This paper is going to talk about a few of these disorders ranging between eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactive disorder to the more common autism spectrum disorders as well as the severe cases of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychosis.Most eating disorders are in preteen girls and boys, yet there are cases in which eating disorders have been diagnosed in younger children as young as 5.

Eating disorders or ED, are full or partial syndrome anorexia nervosa, bulimia or binge eating. “Eating disorders in children have multiple origins- personality traits, self-esteem, family, culture and genetics. ” (3) “Anorexia nervosa includes refusal to maintain weight at or above 85% of ideal, intense fear of weight gain, body image distortion, and secondary amenorrhea” (4) Doctors are uncertain of what causes eating disorders in children and preteens.Experts suspect a combination of social, biological and behavioral factors.

Children and teens with eating disorders struggle with problems like distress, feelings of helplessness and low self-esteem. To cope with these issues these eating disorders also go hand-in-hand with other psychiatric problems such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. Some symptoms of Anorexia can include dieting when one is thin, even an unhealthy thin, menstruation stops or very infrequent, rapid weight loss, excessive exercising, depression, unusual eating habits or refusing to eat all together.This type of disorder does damage to every organ in the body, without the nutrients that the body needs to keep functioning after a certain period of time it will shut down and will result in death.

There are treatments for anorexia that includes therapy, strict monitoring of food intake, monitoring of exercise after eating or before eating a meal and what types of foods the person is eating. Antipsychotics and anti-depressants may be used if the child does not respond to the rest of the therapies but usually only prescribe at the last resort. Bulimia is the self-purging of the food that was eaten. Feeling disgusted and ashamed after overeating, young people with bulimia try to prevent weight gain by inducing vomiting or using laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, or enemas.

” (5)Bulimia is a disorder that may happen because of the effects of the social and cultural norms, children, pre-teens, and teens are all subject to thousands of commercials that show them what the social standard of body weight and beauty is. This may cause the children to feel overweight and unhappy with their body causing them to feel the need to eat and then purge to make themselves feel better.Symptoms for bulimia can be mood swings, excessive exercise, lingering on large amounts of food, anxiety, regularly spending time in the bathroom after eating or having unusual eating habits. Bulimia can cause massive damage to not only the esophagus from the stomach acid, it can also damage the tooth enamel.

A person that has caused themselves to purge may risk the heart problems, immature growth development, obesity at a later age in life as well as gastrointestinal function problems. There is treatment for bulimia, there are behavior modification, nutritional counseling, and therapy.Under strict supervision of the child or preteen they can recover from the binge and purge cycle. Binge eating in children and teens is relatively close to bulimia, the person eats to the point he or she is sick and then feels guilty about the food that they had just ate.

The differences between bulimia and binge eating is: that binger’s do not purge after engorging, they use food to make themselves feel better. This usually means that the binge eaters are overweight and have very little self-control over the disorder. They may binge over stress or worry, boredom or sadness.Any of these emotions may trigger the person to eat until they make themselves uncomfortable and usually end up depressed because they can’t control themselves.

Symptoms of this disorder include obsession of food, hoarding and hiding food, excessive eating and depression and excessive weight gain. Binge eaters may think that it is not hurting them because they are not refusing to eat but are eating healthy but the weight that they gain with this disorder can cause heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These are all serious health problems and need to be treated by a doctor.The treatments to this type of disorder are therapy, such as behavioral or psychotherapy and medications that reduce the effect depression.

Strict food monitoring is also a helpful treatment, the patient would still have the nutrients that they need without overeating and would be able to lose the excessive weight that was gained bringing down the risk factors of heart problems. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, “According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), ADHD is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity or impulsivity that s more frequent and sever than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development. ” (6) Children that have ADD/ADHD have issues paying attention, they forget to do their homework or chores, they may be hyperactive and impulsive actions that get them into trouble with parents and teachers. Most children are like this to begin with in the early toddler years, but by the age of four or five they should be able to sit still and follow directions and focus on what they are doing at hand.

If the child has ADD/ADHD it is more likely that their hyperactivity, impulsiveness will stand out a lot more at this age. The exact causes of ADD/ADHD aren’t known but researchers continue run tests and study the brain for clues. There are some factors that they have begun to suspect; “Heredity, chemical imbalance, and brain changes. ”(7) Other factors may be poor nutrition, exposure to toxins in early childhood, infections and if the mother had a substance abuse problem during pregnancy.

An injury to the brain may also trigger ADD/ADHD.Contrary to popular belief ADD/ADHD isn’t caused by a poor home life or any type of food allergies. According to the statistics “75% of boys diagnosed with ADD/ADHD have hyperactivity, 50% of children with ADHD experience sleep problems, 45% of children with ADHD have been suspended from school at least once, and 30% of children with ADHD have repeated a year in school”( 8) Even if a child is diagnosed with ADD/ADHD it doesn’t mean that he or she will go through life with cognitive learning problems, or behavioral problems.Most children that have been diagnosed with this disorder are also very creative, with so many different ideas and thoughts running through their heads they may become an artist or a problems solver.

Because they are so busy all of the time either in their head or just moving around they may see things that not everyone else see’s. Also children with this disorder are so active, they are easily able to entertain people with their imaginations and energies.There isn’t a cure for ADD/ADHD but there are some methods that can get the disorder under control and your child in a more stable mood. Other than drugs which are commonly used there are special types of therapies the child can go through and therapies the whole family can go through so that they understand the disorders and what the child is going through.

Without medical help the child is at risk for conduct disorders, anxiety disorders and learning disorders. With the medical help the children and you adults are able to earn to control their behaviors and become productive and successful. “The term ‘autism’ originates from the Greek word autos meaning ‘self’. This is the term we are familiar with today and it was first used in 1912 in an American Journal of Insanity in connection with schizophrenic tendencies of isolation.

” (9) Autism is a group of developmental brain disorders, collectively called autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with a wide range of symptoms, skills and levels of impairment or disability.Children that may be diagnosed with autism show deficient in three primary developmental areas. Autistic children have impairment in the use of the non-verbal behaviors such as body postures, gestures and eye-to-eye gaze. They don’t develop the peer relationship as other children do, they have less interaction with their parents on the affectionate area.

These children also have a lack of enjoyment with the basic interests and toys. Autistic children also have impairments of communication, they may delay in speaking, also have inadequate vocabulary by a certain age.Autistic children may also use repetitive speaking and cannot hold a conversation with another person. They also have repetitive behaviors and interests, they may not enjoy a new toy as well as one that they have liked for a long time and refuse to play with the new toy.

Every child with autism is different in the way that they develop, if the child his “high-functioning” he or she may fall under the spectrum for having Asperger’s Disorder. Asperger’s Disorder is the less severe form of autism and the child may be higher functioning than that of a child with a more severe form of autism.They may also have social interaction deficient but are still able to play with other children they can’t pick up on the subtle social clues that other children can. Asperger’s have good language skills but the way they speak is a little different than normal children, they may not have an inflection or understand the concept of irony and humor.

Asperger’s may also cause the child to become obsessed with certain things such as clothing or animals and the may be picky about the way that food is prepared for them but they don’t have the same issues with this as a child with more severe forms of autism.The more the sever the autism that the child is diagnosed with the more acute the symptoms may be and at the different ages is what the acute symptoms of autism are. During infancy most infants learning by looking and pointing, the enjoy contact with their parents and enjoy cuddling time. Most infants look at the adults face to start recognizing the facial features and the eyes is one of the main things that they look at.

With an infant that has autism or a toddler they do not socially interact with their parents, they don’t like the affectionate play time nor do they point and enjoy seeing new things.At the age when infants are usually babbling and exploring and autistic child may not utter even a single word or try to babble at all. Communication deficient are not the only things that autistic children have difficulties with. “Children with autism nearly always, if not always, present with sensory problems such as high pain tolerance, auditory hypersensitivity, and tactile defensiveness (e.

g. , tags on shirts, sand and even snuggles), and they may exhibit “sensory seeking behaviors” such as crashing, squeezing, spinning and flapping. (10) Sensory problems in autistic children can be to the point of they act as if they are deaf when you are speaking to them, but at other times they become disturbed at even the softest sounds, the ringing of a telephone may put the child into a fit. The sensory problem may also be the touch of someone or the way an object feels against their skin.

Autistic children have problems regulating their emotions and may become hysterical for no reason or become mute at real dangers such as heights or a moving vehicle.Autism also makes the child have problems when it comes to learning, the cognitive ability to learn and abstract thinking may be damaged but at the same time they do fine with short term memory or visual skills. There is no cure for autism, there is treatment which involves therapy and drugs. Parents that are able to recognize the signs early have a better chance at keeping the disorder under wraps and the disorder doesn’t become out of control.

Diagnosing autism isn’t a short and simple task it may take a dozen doctors visit and many tests before the diagnosis becomes autism but this shouldn’t stop the parents from attempting to help his or her child. Schizophrenia is a challenging brain disorder that affects the way a person views the world. They have an altered perception of reality, this disorder makes it hard for the person that has it to control his or her emotions, function normally or think clearly. They may see or hear things that are there, have delusions of other people trying to hurt them.

They may be hostile or suspicious, they have the inability to cry or express joy and have odd or irrational statements. Usually the onset of schizophrenia comes later in life in the early 20’s and 30’s and later in life with older age. “Childhood-onset Schizophrenia (COS) is rare and sever type of schizophrenia and is characterized by the beginning of psychotic symptoms before the age of 12. ” (11) “Schizophrenia in children is extremely rare, occurring in one out of every 30,000 children” (12) Even with these statistics schizophrenia in children is real and may effect children worse than it does adults.

Children have severe hallucinations that may tell them to bite or hit, they believe they are seeing, tasting or smelling things that are there when it really isn’t. They may also have disorganized speech and behavior patterns. These same symptoms are in adults as well, but since the child is so young they may not understand what is going on with them and have a harder time dealing with the symptoms. Some of the negative symptoms of this disorder is the lack of feeling or emotion towards themselves or family and friends.

Children with this disorder don’t enjoy everyday activities and they feel out of touch with family. Severe cases of schizophrenia that isn’t diagnosed early enough may result in the child trying to get rid of the voices in his or her head and attempt to kill themselves to do just that. Schizophrenia isn’t curable either. There are of course treatments set in place for people with this disorder that include therapies and drugs, sever cases may result in being placed into a medical facility that can handle people with this disorder as they tend to get violent and aggressive if they do not take their medications.

Children with bipolar disorder may suffer from this for years before a parent thinks that it is time to have a doctor take a look at his or her child. Many of the symptoms are common with the “terrible two’s and three’s” “Bipolar I Disorder markedly impairs behavior, social, occupational, and physical function, and general health. For the pediatric subtypes, adverse consequences are even more sever, including higher rates of treatment refractoriness, psychiatric comorbidities, and functional disability. ” (13).

The mood swings that a toddler may go through, from happy to sad to mad all within minutes of each other is a lot like what a child that has bipolar disorder will go through as well. A toddlers mood swings may not last very long to begin with but if there is an onset of bipolar disorder they may last from anywhere of seconds to hours possibly days. After the onset of bipolar disorder the child or young adult may swing from high mania’s to low depressions all within a few days to a few weeks. Sometimes the child may stay on his mania high for so long the parent may be xasperated with him or her.

The manic phase may include rapid speech, racing thoughts, easily distracted with no kind of attention span whatsoever , aggressive behavior and if the child is school age his or her grades may slip. In severe cases a psychotic break might happen causing the child to slip in and out of reality. The maniac decreases and soon depression or a type of depression may set in. Here is also a very dangerous area for a child or an adult can be in.

Depression may cause suicidal thoughts, excessive sleeping patterns and fatigue, no appetite, anxiety and sadness.For a child this is just as hard to go through as the mania he or she had just experienced. All in one day they may cry for hours at a time, have explosive temper tantrums and then be giddy and laughing hysterically for no reason at all. “There is no cure for BPD, but early diagnosis and treatment are important in helping stabilize the child’s moods.

Without appropriate treatment, each bipolar episode can increase in intensity and duration. ” (14) Medications and therapy may help the child resume control of his or her emotions in order to function properly.In conclusion: I have studied a varied amount of psychological disorders that run within children and affect them throughout their childhoods. There are many forms of therapies that can help the child and his parents deal with the disorder and there are also many kinds of therapeutic ways of controlling and modifying the behaviors that can be involved with a child and one of these disorders.

Even though there are no cures at this time, researchers are working hard to find a way to cure and prevent each of these traumatizing and life changing disorders.

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