Child and Teen Mental Health

Childhood and Adolescent Disorders

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).

Treatments can relieve many of the disorder's symptoms, but there is no cure. With treatment, most people with ADHD can be successful in school and lead productive lives. Researchers are developing more effective treatments and interventions, and using new tools such as brain imaging, to better understand ADHD and to find more effective ways to treat and prevent it.

Some children with ADHD also have other illnesses or conditions. For example, they may have one or more of the following:

A learning disability. A child in preschool with a learning disability may have difficulty understanding certain sounds or words or have problems expressing himself or herself in words. A school-aged child may struggle with reading, spelling, writing, and math.

Oppositional defiant disorder. Kids with this condition, in which a child is overly stubborn or rebellious, often argue with adults and refuse to obey rules.

Anxiety and depression. Treating ADHD may help to decrease anxiety or some forms of depression.

Bipolar disorder. Some children with ADHD may also have this condition in which extreme mood swings go from mania (an extremely high elevated mood) to depression in short periods of time.

Tourette syndrome. Very few children have this brain disorder, but among those who do, many also have ADHD. Some people with Tourette syndrome have nervous tics and repetitive mannerisms, such as eye blinks, facial twitches, or grimacing. Others clear their throats, snort, or sniff frequently, or bark out words inappropriately. These behaviors can be controlled with medication.

ADHD also may coexist with a sleep disorder, bed-wetting, substance abuse, or other disorders or illnesses.

Watch the video “ADHD: Signs, Symptoms, Research

Conduct Disorder

This condition includes behaviors in which the child may lie, steal, fight, or bully others. He or she may destroy property, break into homes, or carry or use weapons. These children or teens are also at a higher risk of using illegal substances. Kids with conduct disorder are at risk of getting into trouble at school or with the police.

It is normal for children and teens to have some behavior-related problems. Conduct disorder involves long-term (chronic) behavior problems that can harm others, such as:

  • Defiant or impulsive behavior
  • Drug use
  • Criminal activity

Children with conduct disorder tend to be impulsive, hard to control, and not concerned about the feelings of other people. Symptoms may include:

  • Breaking rules without obvious reason
  • Cruel or aggressive behavior toward people or animals (for example: bullying, fighting, using dangerous weapons, forcing sexual activity, and stealing)
  • Failure to attend school (truancy — beginning before age 13)
  • Heavy drinking and/or heavy illicit drug use
  • Intentionally setting fires
  • Lying to get a favor or avoid things they have to do
  • Running away
  • Vandalizing or destroying property

Childhood Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Spectrum Disorder is rare among children. But for parents who may have concerns about their child's behavior, Dr. Ellen Leibenluft talks about possible warning signs. Dr. Leibenluft is Senior Investigator and Chief of the Bipolar Spectrum Disorder Section at the National Institute of Mental Health.

 

Source: National Institute of Mental Health