Types of Disorders
- Behavioral Disorders
- Mood Disorders
- Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) & Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Psychosomatic Disorders or Mind-Body Disorders
- Mental Disorders
Behavioral disorders typically develop in childhood or adolescence. While some behavioral issues may be normal in children, those who have behavioral disorders develop chronic patterns of aggression, defiance, disruption and hostility. Their behaviors cause problems at home, school or work, and can interfere with relationships. Children with behavioral disorders may develop personality disorders, depression, or bipolar disorder as adults.
Causes of Behavioral Disorders
The specific cause of behavioral disorders is not known, but a number of factors may contribute to their development. Genetics may play a role, as behavioral disorders are more common in children who have a family history of mental illness or substance abuse. Environment factors, such as unstable home life, child abuse, lack of supervision, and inconsistent discipline, all seem to increase the risk of children developing behavioral disorders.
Symptoms of Behavioral Disorders
All children have occasional behavioral issues. Problems that last more than six months and are more severe than those of peers may indicate that a behavioral disorder is present. These problems can develop into chronic patterns of aggression, hostility, defiance and disruption.
Common symptoms of behavioral disorders include:
- Early sexual activity
- Frequent or extended tantrums
- Open defiance of authority figures and parents
- Property destruction
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Skipping school
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Violent and aggressive acts, such as bullying, fighting, or animal cruelty
Treatment for Behavioral Disorders
Regular medical care for your child is an important first step in the prevention and treatment of behavioral disorders. This allows a health care professional to screen for and evaluate potential symptoms of a behavioral disorder.
Treatment often focuses on skill development for the child and parents. Children may benefit from cognitive development programs, social interaction skills training, and adaptive skills training. Parental skills training can also be beneficial. Educational, community and social programs may be available.
Psychological assessments and psychotherapy or other types of therapy may be helpful, especially if mood or other disorders are also present.
A mood disorder describes a disruption or disturbance in affect or disposition (mood). Mood disorders include the diagnoses of depression, bipolar disorder, grief reactions, seasonal affective disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and dysthymic disorder. Mood disorder is a general term and not a specific diagnosis.
Causes of Mood Disorders
Mood disorders have a strong genetic basis, with genes now identified which are associated with different forms of depression and bipolar disorder. Improper mood regulation may originate in the brain resulting from abnormal amounts of neurotransmitter substances such as serotonin, glutamate or GABA.
A person’s temperament may predispose them to a mood disorder. Temperament affects how a person reacts to life events and frames things that happen in a positive or negative way. Persons with Seasonal Affective Disorder have problems with melatonin secretion, and problems with an out-of-sync Circadian Rhythm (body clock).
Symptoms of Mood Disorders
Symptoms of a mood disorder include feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, restlessness, and sadness during depressive episodes. There is often loss of interest in daily activities, an inability to enjoy social interactions, hobbies, activities and even sex. Fatigue and insomnia may follow these feelings, leading to increased irritability. Eating problems may arise, manifesting as significant weight loss or gain. Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or remembering things, as well as somatic symptoms such as pain, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems may also occur.
Mood disorders can also involve dramatic rises in mood, with feelings of elation, increased energy, and a decreased need for sleep. A person experiencing a manic episode will often have racing thoughts, rapid and pressured speech, and poor judgment and planning.
Treatments for Mood Disorders
Mood disorders are chronic illnesses that can be effectively managed with psychological treatment and medication. Research shows that medication, coupled with effective psychotherapy, sleep and stress management, and psycho-education, can significantly improve the wellness of someone with a mood disorder.
Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) & Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is also known as hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder (ADD). ADHD is a common condition that affects children and adolescents, while ADD is more common in adults. ADHD is a condition resulting in symptoms of inability to maintain attention, impulsive behaviors and/or motor restlessness.
ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), and in some cases, are overly active.
According to epidemiological data, approximately 4% to 6% of the U.S. population has ADHD. That is about 8 to 9 million adults.
ADHD usually persists throughout a person's lifetime. It is not limited to children. Approximately one-half to two-thirds of children with ADHD will continue to have significant problems with ADHD symptoms and behaviors as adults, which can impact their lives on the job, within the family, and in social relationships.
Common Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD is a diagnosis applied to children and adults who consistently display certain characteristic behaviors over a period of time. The most common core features include:
- Distractibility (poor sustained attention to tasks)
- Impulsivity (impaired impulse control and delay of gratification)
- Hyperactivity (excessive activity and physical restlessness)
In order to meet diagnostic criteria, these behaviors must be excessive, long-term, and pervasive. The behaviors must appear before age 7, and continue for at least 6 months. A crucial consideration is that the behaviors must create a real handicap in at least two areas of a person's life, such as school, home, work, or social settings. These criteria set ADHD apart from the "normal" distractibility and impulsive behavior of childhood, or the effects of the hectic and overstressed lifestyle prevalent in our society.
According to the DSM-IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition) some common symptoms of ADHD include: often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes; often has difficulty sustaining attention to tasks; often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly; often fails to follow instructions carefully and completely; losing or forgetting important things; feeling restless, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming; running or climbing excessively; often talks excessively; often blurts out answers before hearing the whole question; often has difficulty awaiting turn.
Please keep in mind that the exact nature and severity of ADHD symptoms varies from person to person. Approximately one-third of people with ADHD do not have the hyperactive or overactive behavior component, for example.
Types of ADHD
There are three different types of ADHD, depending on which symptoms are strongest in the individual:
- Predominantly Inattentive Type: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. A person with impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others.
- Combined Type: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.
Causes of ADHD
Scientists are studying cause(s) and risk factors in an effort to find better ways to manage and reduce the chances of a person having ADHD. The cause(s) and risk factors for ADHD are unknown, but current research shows that genetics plays an important role.
ADHD is very likely caused by biological factors which influence neurotransmitter activity in certain parts of the brain, and which have a strong genetic basis. Studies at NIMH using a PET (positron emission tomography) scanner to observe the brain at work have shown a link between a person's ability to pay continued attention and the level of activity in the brain.
Specifically researchers measured the level of glucose used by the areas of the brain that inhibit impulses and control attention. In people with ADHD, the brain areas that control attention used less glucose, indicating that they were less active. It appears from this research that a lower level of activity in some parts of the brain may cause inattention and other ADHD symptoms.
There is a great deal of evidence that ADHD runs in families, which is suggestive of genetic factors. If one person in a family is diagnosed with AD/HD, there is a 25% to 35% probability that any other family member also has ADHD, compared to a 4% to 6% probability for someone in the general population.
In addition to genetics, scientists are studying other possible causes and risk factors including:
- Brain injury
- Environmental exposures (e.g., lead)
- Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
Treatment for ADHD
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavior therapy.
Medication is often used to help normalize brain activity, as prescribed by a physician. Stimulant medications are commonly used because they have been shown to be most effective for most people with ADHD. However, many other medications may also be used at the discretion of the physician.
Behavior therapy and cognitive therapy are often helpful to modify certain behaviors and to deal with the emotional effects of ADHD. Many adults also benefit from working with an ADHD coach to help manage problem behaviors and develop coping skills, such as improving organizational skills and improving productivity.
No single treatment is the answer for every person and good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.
Psychosomatic Disorders or Mind-Body Disorders
Psychosomatic means mind (psyche) and body (soma). A psychosomatic disorder is a disease which involves both mind and body. Some physical diseases are thought to be particularly prone to be caused or made worse by mental factors such as stress and anxiety.
Psychosomatic disorders are among the most common psychiatric disorders found in general practice. It is a condition of dysfunction or structural damage in bodily organs through inappropriate activation of the involuntary nervous system and the glands of internal secretion.
Treatment for Psychosomatic or Mind-Body Disorders
Psychosomatic medicine is considered a subspecialty of the fields of psychiatry and neurology. Medical treatments and psychotherapy are typically used to treat psychosomatic disorders. Consult with your physician for the best treatment for you.
Mental illness is common, and the milder conditions are very common. One fifth of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder during any given year. One fifth of school-age children are also affected by these conditions. Severe and persistent mental illness is less common, but still afflicts 3 percent of the population.
The vast majority of individuals with mental disorders continue to function in their daily lives, although with varying impairments. Overall medical care costs are driven up enormously by costs associated with unrecognized psychiatric syndromes.
Causes of Mental Disorders
There are many causes of mental disorders. Your genes and family history may play a role. Your life experiences, such as stress or a history of abuse, may also matter. Biological factors can also be part of the cause. A traumatic brain injury can lead to a mental disorder. A mother's exposure to viruses or toxic chemicals while pregnant may play a part. Other factors may increase your risk, such as use of illegal drugs or having a serious medical condition like cancer.
Symptoms of Mental Disorders
It's often difficult to distinguish normal mental health from mental illness because there's no easy test to show if something's wrong. Mental health conditions are diagnosed and treated based on signs and symptoms, as well as on how much the condition affects your daily life.
Signs and symptoms can affect your:
- Feelings. Sometimes a mental health condition is characterized by a deep or ongoing sadness, euphoria or anger.
- Thinking. Delusions — such as thinking that the television is controlling your mind — or thoughts of suicide might be symptoms of a mental health condition.
Mental disorders can include a wide range of problems, including:
Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias
Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
Treatments for Mental Disorders
State of the art treatment for mental illness is very effective—as effective as treatments for high blood pressure, cancer, and arthritis. But good treatment for mental illness (like treatment for ulcers or heart disease) takes a comprehensive approach. Medication is often not the only treatment for a chronic illness, although excellent new psychiatric medications have been developed in recent years.
Psychiatric treatment involves a full mental and physical health evaluation and an individualized treatment plan, which may include psychotherapy (talk therapy), medication, or other modalities. Psychiatrists help patients understand illnesses and understand what they can do to resolve life problems that contribute to illnesses. This may involve issues on the job, in school, or within the family and community.