Mental and Behavioral Disorders - Discussion

This page discusses mental and behavioral disorders.

Human beings are the most complex beings when compared to the rest of the living things on the planet, and one of the aspects that sets us apart from the rest are the anatomical and physiological features of the human brain.

The human mind is capable of thinking at the speed which is probably a hundred times faster than the velocity of light. This mind is capable of controlling, expressing, and regulating extreme emotions and behavior patterns. When the human mind is affected, the various aspects controlled by the mind, too, get affected, resulting in mental and behavioral disorders.

These conditions not only upset and disturb the afflicted person, but also deeply affect his or her family and friends. The number of children, teens, and adults suffering from these mental and behavioral conditions continues to increase every year. According to research data available, one in every five children and adolescents in the United States suffer from mental disorders that need professional treatment.

The major causes of mental and behavioral disorders are generally referred to as nature, nurture, or a combination of both factors. By nature, we are referring to internal factors like inherited genetic material, congenital or injury to the brain or other parts of the central nervous system, and imbalance in brain chemistry.

The other aspect which could be responsible for mental and behavioral disorders is nurturing, or the external environmental factors that are responsible for these problems.

Environmental factors that trigger off such conditions include physical and / or sexual abuse as children or adults, being subject to extremely stressful conditions like death of loved ones, suffering from severe and / or terminal illnesses, etc. Most of these external environmental factors cause a lot of stress, tension, fear, worry and disturb the normal thought processes. All the internal turmoil and frustration experienced on a long-term basis results in depression, anxiety, and other behavioral and mental disorders.

Listed below are some of the prominent mental and behavioral disorders experienced by children and adults:

Depression

This is one particular mental disorder that affects people of almost all age groups, gender, race, and region. However, statistics indicate that the number of women suffering from depression is close to twice the number of afflicted men. The majority of suicide-related deaths in teens have been attributed to depression - an alarming fact.

Various forms of depression include major depression, bipolar depression, dysthymia, situational depression, postpartum depression, and atypical depression. This particular mental disorder can be treated with the help of counseling, psychotherapy, and pharmacotherapy. Effective alternative and natural remedies exist, too.

People who suffer from depression are prone to suffer from relapses. Therefore, preventive care is extremely important in persons suffering from mental and behavioral disorders. More about depression is covered on the rest of this website.

Schizophrenia

This is a form of mental and behavioral disorder that is psychotic in nature, marked by visual and auditory hallucinations. In addition, some patients also experience delusions of grandeur where they behave like another personality - generally a famous political figure or professional like a scientist, physician, etc.

Incidence of childhood schizophrenia is not very high, but not uncommon either. There are a significant number of teens and adults all over the world who suffer from schizophrenia. The causes of schizophrenia are mostly hereditary in nature and increase with stress and trauma. The chemical composition in the brain, particularly of certain neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, is responsible for schizophrenia.

The main conventional treatment for this mental and behavioral disorder is pharmacotherapy and, while it might not actually completely cure patients, most of the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia might actually disappear with medication.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are another set of mental and behavioral disorders experienced by several groups of people, ranging from children to adults. Some of the most common anxiety disorders include phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and stress disorders. Most of these anxiety disorders need to be treated with the help of therapy and medication.

There are certain triggers which are responsible for causing anxiety disorders. Afflicted persons must learn to overcome these situations by learning to face them but not get overly affected by them. This involves cultivating a stronger thought process and developing strength and courage to face difficult problems and fears without getting too worried.

Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia

Both anorexia and bulimia are eating disorders that mostly affect teens and sometimes children. Adolescents are extremely particular about their external appearance and are extra conscious of their figure. Some of them start starving themselves in an attempt to lose weight, and this can result in eating disorders accompanied by health problems.

While anorexia nervosa patients starve themselves and obsess about weight loss, bulimia patients overeat during a meal, followed by forced vomiting; they also take laxatives and enemas to get rid of the food they’ve consumed. Either way, the physical body is tormented and starved; emotional wellbeing is also disturbed because the overriding emotion is of weight gain and weight loss. Also, if at any point there is substantial weight gain, these teens get depressed, and ultimately contemplate suicide.

Treatment involves hospitalization, counseling, psychotherapy, and mild antidepressants. Teens should be encouraged to involve themselves in some physical activities and sports so that they do not have to resort to these methods to lose weight. A balanced diet that is low in fat and rich in vitamins and minerals should be introduced so that their weight, health, and mind are relaxed and fit.

Learning Disorders

Learning disorders are conditions where the brain is unable to process and analyze information like most people do. This can pose a problem for school going children because the education system requires that children learn through observation, analysis, and memory.

There are several different types of learning disorders or disabilities, like dyslexia, which is a verbal learning disability, and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), where the learning process of children is affected to a certain extent, mainly because children experiencing these conditions will find it a little difficult to read, spell, learn, and write.

Some of the causes for learning disabilities in children include brain development issues, where experts believe that children born prematurely, children who did not get sufficient oxygen during and immediately after birth, and children who were subject to head injuries may develop learning disorders. Also, babies exposed to toxins from the environment, including lead, etc, might be susceptible to brain damage, resulting in learning disorders. Finally, genetics also plays a part in children with learning disorders - children with a family history of learning disorders are at a higher risk of inheriting similar problems.

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

This form of mental and behavioral disorder is typically detected early, especially in children, because its symptoms include the inability to focus or concentrate, accompanied by impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention to teachers in a classroom or listening to others when they are speaking, and they are extremely hyperactive for the most part.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

This is another form of mental and behavioral disorder seen mostly in children and teens. It is marked by rebellious behavior which includes arguing; losing their temper; breaking rules; finding fault with peers, parents, and other authority figures; accompanied with being vindictive and intolerant of other people’s mistakes.

Parents and school figures who are constantly in the company of these children will be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of ODD. Statistics indicate that nearly 15% of children suffer from this condition. These children often take to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to block out experiences.

While there is no specific cause for this condition, it has been noticed that children who belong to families with authoritarian parents who force their views on the rest in the family, especially the children, develop this condition. This might not quite be the cause, but certainly contributes to developing a certain form of rebellious behavior and attitude in children that could lead to ODD.

Treatment for this mental and behavioral disorder includes counseling, psychotherapy, social-skill building exercises, group activities encouraging children to develop positive interpersonal skills, and some mild medication which might be prescribed.

Conduct Disorder

This is a form of mental and behavioral disorder whereby individuals, especially teens and adults, demonstrate antisocial tendencies, behavior that involves violent outrages, engaging in drug abuse and other nefarious activities. Conduct disorder occurs mostly in boys, especially during the early teenage years. Nearly 10% of boys suffer from conduct disorder and are later diagnosed with ADHD, schizophrenia, and other mental conditions, including depression.

The symptoms of conduct disorder include insensitivity, overly defensive behavior, extreme forms of aggression, engaging in physically and sexually abusive behavior, and the use of weapons to hurt innocent children, adults, and animals.

Conduct disorder in adult men is also marked by reckless driving, destructive behavior, robbery, theft, and burglary.

On the other hand, adult women engage in prostitution, drugs, alcohol, and running away from home. They ultimately are unable to live with themselves, seriously contemplate suicide and very often succeed in the same. Therefore, threats to end their lives should be taken seriously and hospitalization could be recommended.

Treatment for this type of mental and behavioral disorder includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Persons suffering from conduct disorder are normally admitted to rehabilitation centers, where appropriate treatment followed by therapy is administered.

Conclusion

Mental and behavioral disorders can create a lot of suffering, not only to the afflicted persons, but also to people in their surrounding environment. Therefore, early detection and intervention for any form of deviant behavior is recommended. Since it is not easy to take care of persons suffering from these disorders, they might thus sometimes require hospitalization.

One interesting point we would like to bring up regarding such disorders - over the years, the medical community has come up with more and more different names for supposedly different types of mental and behavioral disorders. Often, new treatment protocols and drug medications are then devised and prescribed. Why this is so, many of us would be quite aware.

At the end of the day, it is important to realize that the wellbeing of the individual is the most important issue, and should be the focus of all interventional efforts. We should not be too fixated on the various technical jargon associated with a supposedly unique health condition, whether it is physical in nature or a mental and behavioral disorder. Ultimately, the basic factors for overall good health and wellbeing, such as nutrition, detoxification, love, stress management, exercise, purpose in life, happiness, etc, apply no matter what the situation is.






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