RadKid.Org: Reactive Attachment Disorder

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RadKid.Org: Childhood Disorders

Childhood; it was the happiest time of my life.

Many of us can look back our childhood experiences as being the best time of our lives, a time when we were free from worry. For many kids, however, this is far from being true.

Childhood disordersSome twelve million children in the United States alone suffer from some type of mental disorder. Fewer than one in five are being given the treatment necessary for them to recover.

When we think about such problems as depression and anxiety, it’s easy to forget that these emotional disorders can effect our children, too. But they can, and do. Children today deal with tremendous emotional issues and stress, the same as adults, and they often have a more difficult time overcoming painful emotions and situations.

So, what sorts of mental illnesses effect children? Well, kids are faced with the same types of disorders as are adults, as well as some that are specific to children.

  • Depression, once thought of as an adult disorder, affects as many as six million children in the United States. Childhood depression has many of the same symptoms as it does in adults, including sadness, fatigue, a feeling of helplessness, and low self esteem. Recognizing these signs and symptoms of depression in children can be difficult, though. One of the problems has to do with the inability of a child to express how he feels. A young child may not understand the concept of helplessness, and therefore be unable to explain it to an adult. For this reason, many children depression go untreated. For those who are diagnosed with the disorder, therapy can teach a child to express feelings and learn to adapt to and cope with stress.
  • Attention deficit disorder (ADD), also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), affects as much as ten percent of all children in the United States. ADHD is a child’s inability to concentrate, learn, and maintain a normal level of activity. Children with ADHD are usually hyperactive, have difficulty concentrating, and require close supervision. The disorder often appears before the age of seven, and more commonly affects boys than girls. Treatment may include a combination of medication and therapy. Most children with ADHD respond well to treatment, learning to control their own behavior.

Last Modified on: Saturday, August 08, 2009

  • Separation from a parent is a traumatic time for a child, especially when she isn’t old enough to understand the circumstances of the separation. For some children, the anxiety of being away from a parent is too overwhelming to comprehend, resulting in severe emotional distress. This may be diagnosed as separation anxiety disorder when the anxiety develops to the point of panic. Children suffering from separation anxiety disorder are often afraid to visit or spend the night at a friend’s house, go to school, or even leave the house unless accompanied by a parent. Therapy and medication may both be a necessary part of the treatment for this disorder.
  • Reactive attachment disorder is a serious condition in which a child has great difficulty forming lasting, loving relationships. Due to neglect, abuse, or for other reasons, the child has not formed a bond with a parent or primary caregiver, and is left unable to sustain a healthy relationship with anyone. Even with an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, a full recovery from attachment disorder may be difficult, or even unachievable. Further information about reactive attachment disorder can be found on the other pages of this site.
  • Perhaps the most common group of mental illnesses affecting children in the United States is conduct disorders. While many people confuse conduct disorder as simple rebellion, or as juvenile delinquency, this is not the case. Children with conduct disorder often have underlying problems that haven’t been diagnosed. The problem may result from a child’s attempt to cope with a hostile environment, as is sometimes the case in attachment disorder, or from a chemical imbalance in the child’s biological structure. Children with true conduct disorders do not grow out of it without appropriate intervention and treatment, which may include medication.

Of course, not all children who don’t pay attention, or are unruly, suffer from one of the disorders mentioned here. It’s not easy being a child today, and each kid has his own way of dealing with situations that he comes up against. Children do sometimes simply make poor decisions.

Parenting a child is not an easy task today either. Public school systems too often appear to work against parental values, the church has in recent years assumed a smaller role in the lives of most American families, and sometimes it is difficult for a parent to know which course of action to take. Still, it is important that a parent not overlook a potential problem. When unacceptable behavior is prolonged or recurring, this may be an indication that something more needs to be done.

Making your child’s life completely happy and carefree is sometimes unrealistic, and the child’s problems are not always the fault of the parent, especially considering that the pressures and issues facing children today are different from those that most of us faced when we were children. Not every misbehaving child has a diagnosable disorder, but neither is it accurate to say that they don’t exist. Perhaps the recognition, understanding, and appropriate treatment of these childhood problems will make the growing process a easier one for every child.



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