پژوهش در روانشناسی

وبلاگ تخصصی دانشجویان روان شناسی

اختلالات روانی در کودکان(متن انگلیسی)


Childhood should be considered as a happy, sorrow-free period of life. Psychiatric disorders are considered to be the result of the stress adults are facing. In the past children were not thought to suffer mental and emotional problems, as they were spared from the adult hardships. Research in the 60's, however, revealed that children can suffer from a broad range of mental diseases, such as depression, manic-depressive or anxiety disorders, previously thought to be reserved for adults.

The fact that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people is indicative of the amount of children suffering clinical depression. Another phenomenon is the increase in substance abuse amongst young people and adolescents, which often leads to hospitalisation and severe negative impact on family life, personal health and intellectual and social growth. Lately, there is also a growing awareness of ADHD, of which about 10% of children suffer to some degree.

As a result, children are nowadays better screened for possible mental disorders. Parents are invited to consult their doctor as soon as possible when they suspect their child may suffer from some mental disease. Paediatric psychiatry is now an important discipline in medicine.

Are there warning signs in children that we as parents can be alert to?


Depression is probably the most frequent psychiatric disorder amongst children. Like depression in adults, the illness can include the following symptoms in a child:

  • sadness
  • hopelessness
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • excessive guilt
  • change in appetite
  • loss of interest in activities
  • recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • loss of energy
  • helplessness
  • fatigue
  • low self-esteem
  • inability to concentrate
  • change in sleep patterns

Children are not always able to express their feelings in a way adults can understand. So, depression is often recognised by changes in behaviour. Some key behaviours - in addition to changes in eating or sleeping patterns - that may signal depression are:

  • a sudden drop in school performance
  • inability to sit still, fidgeting, pacing, wringing hands
  • pulling or rubbing the hair, skin, clothing or other objects
  • slowed body movements, monotonous speech or muteness
  • outbursts of shouting or complaining or unexplained irritability
  • crying
  • expression of fear or anxiety
  • aggression, refusal to cooperate, antisocial behaviour
  • use of alcohol or other drugs
  • complaints of aching
  • arms, legs or stomach, when no cause can be found
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If you observe one or more of above symptoms or behaviours in your child, the best is to consult your doctor, who can make a proper diagnosis.

Especially to consider is that children with depression are at increased risk of suicide. If there are any concerns that a child or adolescent may be suicidal, do not hesitate to talk with your doctor about this. Always take threats of suicide seriously. If the child has stated the intention to commit suicide, and has a plan and a means to carry it out, they probably are at very high risk and may need to be kept safe and supervised in a hospital.

Attention-Deficit Disorders

Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) affects 8 to 12 percent of all children in the UK. It is thought to be 3 times more common in boys than in girls. This disorder often develops before the age of seven but is most often diagnosed when the child is between ages eight and 10. ADHD is the best known attention deficit disorder.

You may suspect your child suffers ADD (or ADHD) if it:

  • has difficulty finishing any activity that requires concentration at home, school or play; shifts from one activity to another
  • doesn't seem to listen to anything said to him or her
  • acts before thinking, is excessively active and runs or climbs nearly all the time; often is very restless even during sleep
  • requires close and constant supervision, frequently calls out in class, and has serious difficulty waiting his of her turn in games or groups

In addition, children may have specific learning disabilities that can lead to emotional problems as a result of falling behind in school or receiving constant reprimands from adults or ridicule from other children.

If you suspect your child suffers ADD, the best is to visit your doctor for proper diagnosis. There are now effective therapies available that have a positive impact on the behaviour of your child. Also, risks associated with ADHD such as increased probability for substance abuse can be reduced with therapy.

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Conduct Disorder

Studies indicate that conduct disorders are the largest single group of psychiatric illnesses in adolescents. Often beginning before the teen years, conduct disorders afflict approximately nine percent of boys and two percent of girls under the age of 18.

Because the symptoms are closely tied to socially unacceptable, violent or criminal behaviour, many people confuse it in this diagnostic category with either juvenile delinquency or the turmoil of the teen years.

For children who have demonstrated at least three of the following behaviours over six months it is recommended that they are evaluated for possible conduct disorder:

  • Steals-without confrontation as in forgery, and/or by using physical force as in muggings, armed robbery, purse-snatching or extortion.
  • Consistently lies other than to avoid physical or sexual abuse.
  • Deliberately sets fires.
  • Is often truant from school or, for older patients, is absent from work.
  • Has broken into someone's home, office or car.
  • Deliberately destroys the property of others.
  • Has been physically cruel to animals and/or to humans.
  • Has forced someone into sexual activity with him or her.
  • Has used a weapon in more than one fight.
  • Often starts fights.

Thus, if at least three of these behaviours occur in your child over a six month period, it is best to talk with your doctor who can, if needed, initiate the appropriate therapy of refer you to a psychiatrist.

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Autism afflicts as many as four out of every 10,000 children. Autism is generally apparent by the time the child is 30 months old. It is three times more common in boys than girls.

As infants, autistic children don't cuddle and may even stiffen and resist affection. Many don't look at their caregivers and may react to all adults with the same indifference.

As they grow, these children also fail to develop friendships and generally they prefer to play alone. Even those who do want to make friends have trouble understanding normal social interaction.

They become distressed when any part of their environment is changed. They may throw extreme tantrums when their place at the dinner table changes or magazines are not placed on the table in a precise order. Likewise, these children insist on following rigid routines in precise detail.

So far, scientists have not identified any cause for this disorder. If you suspect your child has autism, your doctor can help diagnosing and initiate the proper therapy.

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Childhood schizophrenia

A child's stage of development must be taken into account when considering a diagnosis of mental illness. Behaviours that are normal at one age may not be at another. Rarely, a normal young child may report strange experiences - such as hearing voices - that would be considered abnormal at a later age. Clinicians look for a more persistent pattern of such behaviours. Parents may have reason for concern if a child of 7 years or older often hears voices saying derogatory things about him or her, or voices conversing with one another, talks to himself or herself, stares at scary things - snakes, spiders, shadows - that aren't really there, and shows no interest in friendships. Such behaviours could be signs of schizophrenia, a chronic and disabling form of mental illness.

Fortunately, schizophrenia is rare in children, affecting only about 1 in 40,000, compared to 1 in 100 in adults. The average age of onset is 18 in men and 25 in women.

Although children with schizophrenia tend to be harder to treat and have a worse prognosis than adult-onset schizophrenia patients, researchers are finding that many children with schizophrenia can be helped by the new generation of anti-psychotic medications.

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Should we worry about all these illnesses that could affect our child? In fact, for most, childhood still is happy sorrow-free period. If we fear that our child may have some mental disorder, the best is to visit your physician as soon as possible. In many cases, he will tell you that the behaviour of your child is fine, and there is no reason for concern. Should he diagnose a mental illness, there are now therapies available that will help your child. The chances of positive outcome are higher if treatment can start early, so the best is to get a proper diagnosis as soon as possible.

+ نوشته شده در  دوشنبه بیست و ششم فروردین ۱۳۸۷ساعت 10:38  توسط محمد حسین خانی  |