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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mood Disorders - recognising and helping children with mood disorders

We have all felt sad or melancholy from time to time. But when a child reaches a point where the ache of sadness becomes chronic and intolerable, then he is likely to be suffering from mood disorder.

These can only be diagnosed if the sufferer's mood disturbance results from an excessively high or low mood over a period of time.
Such disorders are pervasive and don't disappear with time.

Without interference or proper treatment, children and adults who suffer from mood disorders cannot cope well in society. The condition can disrupt all aspects of their lives, as well as the lives of people around them.

Some possible causes for mood disorders in children include:

* Stress or pressure from the family, school or social environment;

* Low self-esteem or self-worth;

* An inability to cope with a given situation;

* Exposure to traumatic events;

* Lack of support, care, love and understanding; and

* A chemical imbalance within the brain.

Signs And Symptoms

Basically, there are two types of mood disorders: depressive disorders and bipolar disorders ( also known as manic depression).

Depression can be defined as a deep overriding sadness and feeling of despair. If a child suffers from depressive disorder, he may:

* Feel Depressed;

* Lose interest or pleasure in daily routines, usual hobbies, etc;

* Lose weight significantly;

* Either sleep too much or be unable to sleep;

* Feel fatigue or loss of energy;

* Feel a sense or worthlessness, helplessness or hopelessness;

* Be less able to concentrate; and

* Have recurrent thoughts of death, self-harm or suicide.

A bipolar disorder is characterised by wild mood swings ranging from depression to manic behavior. If a child is experiencing a manic episode, he may:

* Tend towards inflated self-esteem or grandiosity;

* Sleep less than usual;

* Be more talkative or feel the need to keep on talking;

* Have flights or ideas or racing thoughts;

* Be easily distracted; and

* Increase his involvement in activities.

What Parents Can DO to Help

# Understand and work within your child's needs, abilities and strengths;

# Be understanding and supportive;

# Talk to him regularly (e.g) ask him how his every day goes;

# Play with him or do some relaxing activity together;

# Listen to him - do not ignore any plea for help.

# Watch out for signs of self-harm or suicidal thoughts;

# See issues/problems from his point of view, not yours;

# Avoid putting unnecessary pressure or stress on him;

# Do not compare him with other children;

# Do not scold or threaten him; and

# Monitor his behavior and decide when professional help is required.

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Anonymous Margaret said...

I've been following a series this week on NPR about children who are transgender. I wonder how many of these children were initially diagnosed as having a mood disorder before the true nature of their issue was brought to light.

It's been quite interesting hearing about these children who begin exhibiting transgender preferences as early as two years of age.


May 9, 2008 at 11:14 PM  

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