Different Issues for Children

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by RI Editors

This research essay is part of our Peculiar Minds series.

Ethiopia: Innocent Prayers of a Young Child

Identifying mental disorders in children can be tricky for health care providers. Children differ from adults in that they experience many physical, mental, and emotional changes as they progress through their natural growth and development. They also are in the process of learning how to cope with, adapt, and relate to others and the world around them.

Furthermore, each child matures at his or her own pace, and what is considered normal in children falls within a wide range of behavior and abilities. For these reasons, any diagnosis of a mental disorder must consider how well a child functions at home, within the family, at school, and with peers, as well as the child’s age and symptoms.

Which Mental Health Conditions Are Most Common in Children?

There are several different types of mental disorders that can affect children and adolescents, including:

  • Anxiety disorders: Children with anxiety disorders respond to certain things or situations with fear and dread, as well as with physical signs of anxiety (nervousness), such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating.
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Children with ADHD generally have problems paying attention or concentrating, can’t seem to follow directions, and are easily bored and/or frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move constantly and are impulsive (do not think before they act).
  • Disruptive behavior disorders: Children with these disorders tend to defy rules and often are disruptive in structured environments, such as school.
  • Pervasive development disorders: Children with these disorders are confused in their thinking and generally have problems understanding the world around them.
  • Eating disorders: Eating disorders involve intense emotions and attitudes, as well as unusual behaviors associated with weight and/or food.
  • Elimination disorders: Disorders that affect behavior related to using the bathroom. Enuresis, or bed-wetting, is the most common of the elimination disorders.
  • Learning and communication disorders: Children with these disorders have problems storing and processing information, as well as relating their thoughts and ideas.
  • Affective (mood) disorders: These disorders involve persistent feelings of sadness and/or rapidly changing moods, and include depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Schizophrenia: This disorder involves distorted perceptions and thoughts.
  • Tic disorders: These disorders cause a person to perform repeated, sudden, involuntary (not done on purpose), and often meaningless movements and sounds, called tics.

Some of these disorders, such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders and schizophrenia, can occur in adults as well as children. Others begin in childhood only, although they can continue into adulthood. It is not unusual for a child to have more than one disorder, or for one to gradually morph into a different disorder in adulthood.

Editor’s Note: Involved parents are the best determinants for whether the behavior a child is exhibiting or the difficulties that child is experiencing are normal for him or her. As noted, many behaviors are related to a child’s individual development curve and are not indicative of disorder. If a disorder is present, most parents will feel a sense that their child needs additional help. Seeking competent second opinions is a good course of action.


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3 Responses to Different Issues for Children

  1. Emily says:

    We’ve really been struggling with one of our children lately (about 7). She hasn’t been wanting to go to school because she “doesn’t like it.” That’s about all I can get out of her. I don’t know if there’s someone bugging her, if she’s bored, or if it’s more than that. If it’s more than that, I don’t want to make matters worse by forcing her to go.

    When she was 4 she had some seizures. We put her on meds and 2 years later we were able to take her off. In our study about seizures we learned that people with seizures are more likely to have depression. Although her EEG appears normal now, a little bit of me hasn’t ruled out any depression or anxiety problems.

    Has anyone out there dealt with a child with anxiety or depression? This post indicates it’s pretty hard to diagnose because of the developmental stages children go through anyway, but still, it would be nice to know what’s normal anxiety. How much do you force your kid into things? Seems like you’d make them go to school, but allow some flexibility with extracurriculars. Now I’m beginning to ramble!

  2. readermom says:

    I have a ten yr old daughter with anxiety. We deal with it with a lot of prayer. We don’t force her into things, though we are the types of parent who don’t do activities anyway. After a lot of prayer and fasting I brought her home for a while. She needed time to heal, to not be constantly under pressure. After some therapy, and a prescription for zoloft, and more prayer and fasting, we put her back in.
    A good children’s psychologist is worth the money, if you can get at all swing it.
    But you know your child. ignore all the shoulds out there. Should be in sports, should stick with things, should do whatever. If you can homeschool, look into it. I tried, and failed. But those months at home were crucial to my daughter’s well-being.
    Fast and pray. The Lord will answer you, in my case a serendipitous conversation the next day. Be open and pray, you will know how to take care of her.

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