Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. The duration or severity of an anxious feeling can sometimes be out of proportion to the original trigger, or stressor. Physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and nausea, may also develop. These responses move beyond anxiety into an anxiety disorder.
The APA describes a person with anxiety disorder as “having recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns.” Once anxiety reaches the stage of a disorder, it can interfere with daily function.
Other Anxiety Disorders:
- Specific Phobias
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety
- Selective Mutism
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Health Preoccupations
Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) find it unusually difficult to concentrate on tasks, to pay attention, to sit still, and to control impulsive behavior. Some children with ADHD exhibit mostly inattentive behaviors and others predominantly hyperactive and impulsive. But the majority of those with ADHD have a combination of both, which can make it very difficult for them to function in school and create a lot of conflict at home.
Studies show that intervention for children and adolescents with ADHD tends to be less effective when a caregiving parent has ADHD, too. Several studies have demonstrated that ADHD symptoms in adults differ considerably from those in children. More than 90 percent of adults with ADHD have attention issues, including difficulty with planning, follow-through, organization and time management. Treating the ADHD that’s underlying their problems would benefit both them and their children. There’s still a good deal of stigma and lack of understanding surrounding adults with ADHD.
Behavior and Conduct
Children with these disorders have problems with control of their emotions and behavior. While all children are occasionally unable to control their impulses, these children have unusual difficulty for their age, resulting in behavior that violates the rights of others and/or brings them into conflict with authority figures.
When parents consider behavior issues, one phrase tends to jump out: oppositional defiant disorder. Whether your child has oppositional defiant disorder (or ODD) or not, learning about behavior management strategies used in treatment are evidence-based techniques that all parents will benefit from knowing.
What distinguishes ODD from normal oppositional behavior is how severe it is, and how long it has been going on for. A child with ODD will have had extreme behavior issues for at least six months. Another hallmark of ODD is the toll it takes on family relationships. Regular daily frustrations — ignored commands, arguments, explosive outbursts — build up over time, and these negative interactions damage the parent-child bond and reinforce hostile patterns of behavior.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is characterized by bouts of major depression and periods of mania — euphoria, poor judgment, and extreme risk-taking activity — in an often debilitating cycle. Onset usually occurs in mid-to-late adolescence, though there are cases in children.
Bipolar disorder usually develops in adolescence or early adulthood — the mean age of onset is 18, and between 15 and 19 is the most common period of onset. But the disorder’s first signs are very often overlooked or mischaracterized. At the outset, bipolar symptoms are commonly mistaken for ADHD, depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and, in its more severe manifestations, as schizophrenia.
A bipolar diagnosis based on a detailed history that tracks changes in mood over time; as one expert puts it, think of it as a movie, not a snapshot.
Without treatment, bipolar episodes usually last from several weeks to several months. Periods in between episodes, without symptoms of either mania or depression, can last weeks, months or years.
Child Development and Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that is marked by two unusual kinds of behaviors: deficits in communication and social interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors. In the past, children with these behaviors were diagnosed with one of a set of distinct disorders — autism, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Now these separate diagnoses are combined into what’s called the autism spectrum.
Children and adolescents with depression are sad, empty or irritable in mood for a prolonged period of time, and there are usually changes in their energy level, affect, interests, ability to concentrate, and patterns of sleeping and eating.
Adolescents: Since adolescents are often moody, it can be difficult to recognize when your son or daughter has become depressed, and might need help. The thing people tend to notice first is withdrawal, or when the teenager stops doing things she usually likes to do. There might be other changes in her mood, including sadness or irritability or in behavior, including, appetite, energy level, sleep patterns, and academic performance. If several of these symptoms are present, be vigilant about the possibility of depression.
Adults and Adolescents: Depression is an internalizing disorder that disturbs a patient’s emotional life. It takes a while for the patient or others to recognize or to realize that thinking, and emotional responses, are disturbed.
There are two kinds of depression. In major depressive disorder, the most familiar form of depression, the symptoms occur in what may be severe episodes that tend to last from seven to nine months. The other form of depression called dysthymia, in which the symptoms are milder, but they can last longer, even years. While the experience of dysthymia may be less debilitating for the patient at any given moment, the risk is that there is more accrued damage is higher.
Dysautonomia and POTS
Like any disease, physicians often measure the disease perspective and how it is uniquely presenting in the patient. Psychiatrists are also uniquely trained in measuring the different dimensions of you; your personality, how you conduct yourself, your life experiences, and then combining that information with the science of available medicines and technologies.
Psychiatrists can help when something overlaps with POTS and co-exists. For example, patients who are “tired” can also have depression, patients who are “anxious” can also have an anxiety disorder, patients who are “foggy” can also have ADHD or a learning difference, and patients who are “sick and tired” of being sick and tired can get demoralized.
You are not your illness. Physicians with insights into Dysautonomia (POTS) know the importance of managing the illness. They recognize that diseases require treatment, personality dimensions require guidance and behaviors require modification. These providers recognize the role of autonomy in living all aspects of your life.
Learning and development disorders are conditions that interfere with a child’s ability to process information and acquire skills in language, speech, reading, and/or mathematics.
When a child is struggling in school, the first step to finding help is figuring out what’s getting in his way. As a starting point, you need an evaluation of your child’s learning profile, to identify strengths and weaknesses, and suggest what kind of support he might need to thrive. But the process of getting a child evaluated can be daunting. How do these evaluations work? Who does them? And what kind of information can you get from them?
OCD, and OCD Spectrum Disorders
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder that involves both obsessions and compulsions that take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities, such as school/work, developing friendships, and self-care.
Obsessions are recurring intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, or urges. Common obsessions may include: worrying about germs, getting sick, or dying, extreme fears about bad things happening or doing something wrong, feeling that things have to be “just right”, disturbing and unwanted thoughts or images about hurting others or disturbing and unwanted thoughts.
Compulsions (also referred to as rituals) are behaviors you feel you “must do” with the intention of getting rid of the upsetting feelings caused by the obsessions. A sufferer may also believe that engaging in these compulsions will somehow prevent bad things from happening. Common compulsions may involve excessive checking or re-checking, excessive washing and/or cleaning, repeating actions until they are “just right” or starting things over again, ordering or arranging things, or mental compulsions.
In general, OCD is treated when these obsessions and compulsions become so time-consuming that they negatively interfere with daily life. Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or worsen. Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing doesn’t make sense, some adults and most children may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.
OCD and OCD Spectrum Disorders:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Tourette’s Disorder/Tics
- Hair Pulling Disorder (Trichotillomania)
- Skin Picking Disorder
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
Personality disorder is a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school.
In some cases, you may not realize that you have a personality disorder because your way of thinking and behaving seems natural to you. And you may blame others for the challenges you face.
Personality disorders usually begin in the teenage years or early adulthood. There are many types of personality disorders. Some types may become less obvious throughout middle age.
Tourette’s and Tics
Tic disorders are characterized by sudden, rapid motor movements (twitches, spasms) or verbal emissions (throat-clearing, blurted words), or both. Tics, which usually begin in childhood and peak in early adolescence, are generally experienced as involuntary, though they can be suppressed voluntarily for varying amounts of time.