The behavioral disorders that children and teenagers face are different from the mental health problems that adults are diagnosed with. Child psychologists deal with aberrations in children’s behavior, along with their emotional disorder issues. Cadabams Hospitals has offered multispecialty mental health care for children and adolescents for 28+ years.
Our multispecialty team of expert psychologists, counsellors, therapists work round the clock to ensure that you get the treatment you need and deserve. Cadabams Hospital offers world-class evidence-based and solution-oriented treatment in child and adolescent psychiatry.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that revolves around the mental well-being of a child. It is the study, analysis, and treatment of the emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders of childhood. Child Psychiatry consists of the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation of behavioral disturbances and psychiatric and developmental disorders in the young.
Importance of Child Psychiatry
When it comes to discussing children’s health, you cannot miss out on their mental health conditions because parents play a crucial role in their kids’ mental health.
Building a safe environment at home is crucial in helping children build strong, caring relationships. This, in turn, helps children and young adults develop self-esteem and builds their confidence. However, unwarranted experiences and certain external factors may trigger unnatural behavior in children. Experts diagnose them with potential psychological disorders that can have damaging effects on their mental health.
Children often behave erratically sans any valid reason. Unjustified and drastic behavioral changes are symptoms of mental health illnesses in children.
Parents must be patient with their children, especially when they are struggling with emotional turmoil.
Compassion and empathy are crucial for quick recovery, and overall growth and development in their children.
Common Mental Disorders Among Children
Sudden behavioral changes can be a sign of possible mental disorders in children. If left untreated, these can affect the way they learn, imbibe new things, level of acceptance, perception, and how they handle relationships. It is highly unlikely that children (aged below 5-years of age) will reveal mental health struggles they may be afflicted with. However, growing children suffering from disorders may exhibit signs in their daily lives that shouldn’t be ignored.
The possible mental health problems that children are commonly diagnosed with include:
Anxiety is the body's response to a certain situation. Primarily, it is a response to stress about what's about to happen next? It is okay to feel anxious once in a while. However, intense and persistent fear can be debilitating. Children showing such symptoms need expert medical help.
The different types of anxiety include:
- General Anxiety - Being extremely worried about normal things like having exams
- Separation Anxiety - Being afraid when away from parents
- Phobias - Having extreme fear in a situation or about a specific thing such as a closed or dark room, fear of insects, or visiting a stranger
- Social Anxiety - Being very afraid of crowded places, even schools
- Panic Disorder - Having repeated episodes of sudden, unexpected, intense fear. It includes symptoms as troubled breathing, heart pounding, feeling dizzy, shaky, or sweaty
Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Being physically active is a sign of good health in children. However, abnormal levels of hyperactive behavior to the extent that they have trouble paying attention, or act on impulse can be a sign of Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The symptoms of ADHD may be similar to those of children suffering from anxiety, depression, or sleeping disorders.
Effective child counseling can help diagnose the disease and advise treatment for the same.
The common symptoms of ADHD include -
- Failure to pay close attention to details having trouble focusing or concentrating on tasks
- Forgetful about completing tasks
- Seems distracted even when spoken to directly
- The tendency to lose things necessary for tasks and activities (books, pens, etc.)
- Trouble organizing tasks and activities
- Finds it difficult to sit still
- Interrupting people while they’re talking
- Fidgeting behavior
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
Children with ODD are more likely to act oppositional or defiant around people they are close to, such as parents. This persistent behavior can cause serious problems at home or in school, etc. Children less than eight years old but not more than 12 years of age are mostly diagnosed with this disorder. The exact cause of ODD is unknown. Child psychologists recommend treatment for disruptive behavior disorders for such children.
Examples of ODD behaviors include -
- Being angry or losing one’s temper
- Arguing with adults or refusing to comply with adult’s requests
- Always questioning rules and refusing to follow them
- Resentful or spiteful
- Deliberately annoying others or becoming annoyed with others
- Blaming other people for one’s own mistakes or misbehavior
- Frequently demonstrating an angry attitude
- Speaking harshly or unkindly to others
- Behavior seeking revenge
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
ASD is a pervasive neurological developmental disability that hampers normal brain development. This condition affects speech and nonverbal communication, social skills, cognition, and behavior.
Some common symptoms include -
- Difficulty in forming meaningful sentences while talking.
- At an early stage of infancy, they may not display any anticipatory posture or smile at being picked up by an adult.
- Difficulty in hearing
- Extremely sensitive to smell, touch, taste, sound, light, and color
- Difficulty in following directions or instructions
- Activities are generally rigid, repetitive, and monotonous
Believe it or not, depression can affect children too. While being sad due to certain reasons is normal, the constant feelings of hopelessness must be checked and treated before it deteriorates into an aggravating form of depressive disorder during adulthood. Children suffering from depression usually show the following symptoms including:
- Feeling persistently sad or hopeless for the most part of the day
- Inability to participate in events or enjoy playing games
- Drastic changes in eating behavior, viz., either eating more or less suddenly
- Abnormal changes in sleep patterns
- A drop in energy levels, i.e., showing signs of restlessness, sluggishness, or tiredness most of the time
- Unexplained feelings of worthlessness or uselessness
- The tendency to inflict self-injury or self-destructive behavior
Eating disorders are defined as constant worry about weight and weight loss, and/or unsafe eating and dieting habits.
Such disorders include - anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
- Anorexia Nervosa - People with Anorexia Nervosa have an intense fear of gaining weight and have a distorted perception regarding weight. This disorder is characterized by abnormally low body weight.
- Bulimia Nervosa - Commonly called Bulimia, is a serious life-threatening eating disorder. They tend to secretly binge eat large amounts of food with a loss of control over the eating and then purge, trying to get rid of the extra calories in an extremely unhealthy way.
- Binge Eating Disorder (BED) - It is a type of feeding and eating disorder that’s now recognized as an official diagnosis. People with BED tend to eat much more rapidly than normal until they are uncomfortably full. They eat alone due to feelings of embarrassment and shame or have feelings of guilt or disgust with themselves.
Engaging in repeated actions that do not make sense is the trait of an impaired mind. Many children suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that prompt them to perform unnecessary actions. The unnecessary thoughts continue despite many children trying to get rid of them by focusing on playing or alternate activities.
Affected kids exhibit behaviors also known as compulsions most of the time without realizing how they are getting consumed by their obsessions.
The global pervasiveness of this disease among children is roughly between one and three percent with most of them manifesting the following symptoms. These include:
- Having unwanted thoughts or images that may cause them to feel anxious or distressed
- Repeating the same action either silently or loudly
- Doing something repeatedly, as per the rules, to escape from their obsession.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Severe physical injuries or painful events, like the death of a loved one, can cause children to feel stressed. Many children succumb to such traumatic events and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a terrifying mental health condition that necessitates child counseling.
Children react to violence, abuse, injury, or any traumatic events differently. Such children show symptoms that include prolonged anxiety, nightmares, emotional distress, distressing memories, and disruptive behaviors.
Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person:
- Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders Among Children
The incidence of mental disorders in children is huge and may be found in at least one-fourth of the number of children at the global level. Other than the aforementioned mental health problems, many children may suffer from developmental and psychotic disorders that can have a prolonged impact on their lives.
To hold only one factor responsible for emotional disorders in children can be difficult. Mental health problems in children can be due to various reasons. Besides the symptoms of various mental health problems mentioned, children can exhibit signs specific to their age and the problem they suffer from. Affected children also suffer from a myriad of learning and communication disorders.
Such children face problems in storing and processing the information, as well as, connecting their thoughts to their ideas. Some of the symptoms of learning and communication disorders are-
- Difficulty in telling their right from their left
- Reduced vocabulary compared to other children of the same age
- Reversing letters, words, or numbers, after first or second grade
- Difficulty in recognizing patterns or sorting items by size or shape
- Not speaking at all
- Limited word choice for his or her age
- Trouble grasping simple directions or naming objects
Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders in Children
Watch out for the following signs and symptoms in your children, if your child is exhibiting such behavior, consult a Pediatric (child) Psychologist or an expert in child counseling in Bangalore immediately.
- Throw frequent tantrums - regular refusal to go to school, go to sleep, etc.
- Always irritable
- Persistent disobedience or aggression (longer than 6 months) and provocative opposition to authority figures
- Often talk about fears or worries / have frequent nightmares
- Frequent complaints about headaches or stomach ache with no proper medical cause
- Hyperactive (except when they are watching videos or playing video games)
- Fidgeting- constant movement beyond regular playing, with or without difficulty paying attention
- Sleep too much or too little or seem sleepy throughout the day
- Have difficulty interacting with others and making friends
- Not interested in playing outdoors
- Repetitive actions or checking things regularly out of fear that something bad may happen.
- Poor grades in school despite trying very hard
- Threatens to harm or kill oneself
Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents
- Have experienced a recent decline in grades
- Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
- Marked changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
- Fear of gaining weight, or they are dieting or exercising excessively
- Extreme difficulty in concentrating that can be a problem at school or at home
- Spending more time alone, and avoiding social activities with friends or family
- Depression showed by sustained, prolonged negative mood and attitude, often accompanied by poor appetite, and difficulty sleeping, along with suicidal thoughts
- Engage in self-harm behavior or have suicidal thoughts
- Severe mood swings
- Strong worries or anxieties that get in the way of daily life, such as at school or socializing
- Repeated use of alcohol and/or drugs or smoking
Some other emotional and behavioral problems in children include disruptive behavior, feeding and toilet training difficulties, depression, anxiety and OCD, response to trauma or life adjustment (such as domestic violence and divorce), and attachment disorders.
Some of the subspecialties of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry include:
- Abnormal child psychology: Treating children suffering from psychological disorders including anxiety, mood and personality disorders, emotional disorders such as phobias, disruptive behaviors, bedwetting, separation anxiety.
- Adolescent psychology: Adolescent clients between the ages of 12 and 18 who suffer from psychological illness or distress including eating disorders, depression or anxiety, teenage coping issues, and anti-social behavior.
- Developmental psychology: Study of childhood development in various spheres such as that of cognitive development and psychosocial development.
- Behavioral medicine: It is the science of changing behavior for a more positive, healthy & happy life. It addresses disruptive behaviors, attention-seeking behaviors to be changed into more positive and better behavioral habits.
At Cadabams Hospitals, a few of the typical tasks our child psychologist conducts include:
- Diagnosing and treating learning/developmental disabilities
- Administering psychological tests
- Conducting scientific research on childhood development
- Working with a health care team to create a unique treatment plan for a client
- Working with a team of expert mental health practitioners to create a unique treatment plan for each child
Visit Cadabams to meet with the best child psychologists in Bangalore and seek effective and timely treatment.
Types of Psychotherapy Treatment for Children and Adolescents
Mental health symptoms and Behavioral problems can keep children and adolescents from leading a happy and successful life. Psychotherapy is a type of psychiatric treatment used primarily for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. It involves therapeutic conversations and interactions between a child, family, caretakers, and child psychologist.
Child counseling and psychotherapy help diagnose the disorder, resolve problems, modify behavior, and make positive changes in their lives. There are several types of psychotherapy involving various techniques, approaches, and interventions used by a child counselor. Often a combination of different psychotherapies and medications helps to overcome a disorder.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is an evidence-based therapy and helps to reduce distress and improve the ability to function. CBT helps a child understand, examine, and change the way they think (cognitive), act (behavior), and feel (emotionally and physically).
CBT is an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, low self-esteem, anger problems, substance use problems, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a subspeciality of cognitive-behavioral treatment. It involves an individual therapy session on a regular basis and a skills group session every week for at least 6 months. The skills group therapy focuses on -
- Mindfulness skills - to manage attention
- Emotional regulation skills - to manage and cope with emotions
- Interpersonal skills - to deal effectively with others
- Distress tolerance skills - to tolerate emotional distress
DBT is used to treat older adolescents who have chronic suicidal feelings/thoughts, engage in intentionally self-harmful behaviors.
Emotion-focused Therapy (EFT)
Emotions, an important part of the disorder, are the main focus of this treatment. This therapy helps us understand how to deal with emotions and emphasizes on the self and the importance of past relationships. Children with psychiatric issues tend to avoid emotions and pretend that everything is okay.
This leads to a huge gap between self and emotional needs that aren't met. EFT is especially effective for challenges and disorders like moderate depression, the effects of childhood deprivation or abuse, interpersonal problems, eating disorders, and couples & relationship difficulties.
This therapy analyzes the psychological problems between children with psychological problems and their families. This treatment also revolves around the interactions among family members as a part of therapy. Family therapy is especially effective for individuals with eating disorders, problems with substance use, problems with anger or oppositional behaviors, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and youth with medical illness.
As the name suggests, this therapy gives a child a caring and safe environment to play. Through play therapy, children and young adults express their experiences and feelings, increase self-awareness, develop social skills, deal with emotional problems, and learn to cope with the symptoms of depression, anxiety, trauma, and stress.
Mindfulness is paying attention. Mindfulness helps to change negative behaviors, manage difficult emotions, reduce suffering, improve self-awareness, and also increase empathy. The goal of mindfulness is to focus on observing a situation rather than reacting to someone and accepting it without judgment. There is ample evidence that shows that children who practiced mindfulness reported higher wellbeing and lower stress scores.
An unconscious mind holds onto painful feelings and memories that are too difficult for the conscious mind to process. These memories of childhood lead to developing defenses such as denial to hide these experiences from themselves.
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on how childhood memories or trauma can affect a child's development. This psychotherapy therapy focuses on increasing self-awareness, examining thoughts and feelings, becoming more resilient, and being adaptable.
Psychotherapy for Parents and Young Children
There are various types of treatment for parents and young children that focus on strengthening the bond between parent and child. It includes exercises of keeping children safe, listening to children, and spending time with them, providing affection, order, and consistency, setting and enforcing limits for children, and monitoring friendships children make.
Psychotherapy for parents and young children include therapies like Circle of Security Parenting, Parent-Child Psychotherapy, Modified Interaction Guidance (MIG), and Child-Parent Relationship Therapy.
Finding a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Pediatric psychologists, child, and adolescent psychiatrists, teenage psychologists, or child counselors can be found through local medical and psychiatric societies, local mental health organizations, hospitals or medical centers, and departments of psychiatry in medical colleges.
You can also ask your family doctor for a referral as they are familiar with your health history and will be able to suggest the right help you need. You can also search online for therapists and use online reviews to come to a decision. Due to the pandemic, psychiatric sessions have largely moved to an online consultation model where initial sessions can be taken online, via chat or video call.
Cadabam’s Hospitals is one of the best Child Counseling and Child Psychiatry hospitals in Bangalore. We offer multi-specialty mental health care for children and adolescents. We offer all kinds of well-integrated services that constitute a team of trained and experienced professionals, specializing in different child care disciplines.
Cadabam's Hospitals integrate a holistic approach in child and adolescent psychiatry. At Cadabams, Psychiatry and Neurology specialists consider the biological, psychological, and social factors associated with children and their parents.
The child psychiatrist conducts a detailed diagnostic examination to evaluate the current problems with attention to physical, genetic, developmental, emotional, cognitive, educational, family, peer, and social components.
Call us on our health helpline +91 97414 76476 for further details.