Mental disorders also known psychiatric disorders affect the brain and some parts of nervous system resulting in a number of psychological and behavioural changes. Along with adults, mental disorders are known to affect children, toddlers and even infants. A report said that if you take an average; across the world about 1 in 4 children suffer from some kind of mental disorders. This is a scary number. In contrast to these ever increasing statistics the awareness amongst masses is not increasing. People still consider mental disorders as a social stigma and tag it awkwardly. They feel the child is just stubborn or trying to act smart and the elders scold them in an attempt to suppress these disorders and their symptoms. This keeps many of the cases of mental disorders undiagnosed; which eventually grow up in later years of life causing even more trouble.
The common symptoms that are observed in a child with mental disorder are frequent change of mood, intense and extreme behaviour, difficulty in studying and concentrating on things, frequent headaches, loss of interest in things which they used to like previously, frequent dreams and nightmares, aggressive behaviour etc. It is very important that the parent and the school authorities must stay aware about the common mental disorders in children and learn to identify the signs so as to start appropriate treatment as soon as possible. This will prevent or delay the disorder from progressing.
Following Are Some Of The Mental Disorders That Affect Children
Anxiety means getting stressed or worried about things and daily happenings. Everybody gets anxious and that happens like very frequently; however this doesn’t mean he is suffering from anxiety disorder. The difference between a normal state anxiety and anxiety disorders is the duration and its effect on your life. If the child is anxious about any school competition or exams that is usually normal; but if you feel that his behaviour is changing gradually and the child stays upset and anxious most of the time; it might be an anxiety disorder. These symptoms tend to develop gradually and stay for a long time; they do not go off easily. The types of anxiety disorders that affect children are generalised anxiety disorder (staying worried and dreaded most of the time), obsessive compulsive disorder (anxiety results in repeated attempts to resolve an obsession), phobias (social fear, fear of heights, animals etc.) and panic attacks (anxiety results in extreme symptoms like dizziness, increased heart beat & sweating etc.)
Depression and staying depressed or low are different things. If your child is sad about something and recovers in a couple of days, it is normal; however if the recovery doesn’t happen and the depressive state lasts for long it might be a case of depression. The common symptoms of depression in children are staying quiet and low for long periods, feeling of guilt, feeling of self worthlessness, blaming themselves for any wrong happening, poor concentration, not communicating properly etc. In extreme cases depression leads to suicide attempts in children and this number is increasing day by day. As parents and care takers it is important to identify the signs of the child’s depression and try to understand what is the reason behind it. Talk to a psychiatrist about the situation and do not ignore the signs if they are evident.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common mental disorder where the children are usually hyperactive, distracted, impulsive in nature, talk loudly and might even talk offensive things without thinking, impatient, interrupt between conversations etc. they tend to face a lot of social issues and criticism due to such behaviour. The main causes of ADHD are genetic & hereditary factors, excess sugar intake during the growing years, head injury etc.
Autism in children is a neurological disorder which results in impaired mental growth and development. They children are neurologically and behaviorally impaired according to their age. They face problems in understanding and expressing emotions. Also they cannot communicate well. Along with these disorders they have a typical repetitive movement of some part of the body; such as constantly moving head in one direction or a constant hand movement etc. Children who are autistic also experience frequent episodes of seizures and convulsions. Most of these symptoms show and develop in the first 3 years of age.
Learning disorders in children are a bunch of disorders which are related to learning and development process. These children cannot receive and process the information they get in a normal manner. The different types of learning disorders are dyslexia (reading disorder), dysgraphia (writing disorder), dyspraxia (motor disability), aphasia (language disability) etc.
Children with mental disorders show better improvement when they are diagnosed and treated at early stages and when their caretakers are supportive. Therefore proper care must be taken while handling such children.