Children these days grow up much faster than ever before. Unfortunately, they also acquire the curse of adulthood much earlier than earlier. Who would have thought in our childhood that a four year-old boy can fall prey to serious depression, only because one of his mates at the play-school talks faster, runs faster and finishes puzzles faster than him? Unfortunately for him, his parents mistake his blues for reluctance to go to school and fail to see the signals. Today the child’s future is dependent on a long and continuous medical journey.
Normally, clinical depression is a state of intense sadness, melancholia or despair that has advanced to the point of being disruptive to an individual’s social functioning and/or activities of daily living.
But if you are a parent or guardian of a child that has been identified with a neurobiological brain disorder (NBD), or mental illness, you would have to go that extra mile to best judge of your child’s special needs and particular strengths – along with the cause and the treatment of the same. It is almost always a long drawn journey.
Neurobiological disorders, neurobiological brain disorders (NBD), and mental illness are terms used for a group of brain disorders that cause disturbances in thinking, feeling, or relating. These disorders result in a substantially reduced capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of everyday life.
If you suspect your child is ill, or if a teacher or your doctor suggests that your child should be evaluated, you should seek a professional’s advice viz. a psychiatric evaluation by a child and adolescent specialist.
Modern day psychiatrists generally believe that all brain disorders have a biological underpinning. These doctors then outline the kind of treatment they believe will be most appropriate for your child. You will want to choose a professional who respects your role and views the family not as part of the child’s problem, but as a strength the child can build on. After all, don’t all parents wish their children good more than anyone else in the world?
Yes, as a parent, you are the first one to notice any changes in the behavioural pattern in your child. By instinct then, you would be the first doctor too. It is imperative for the doctor you choose to understand that truth.
As an extension of the same, exercise the right to ask and make the doctor explain all his assumptions and treatments. Simply because what he or she might be terming unusual or usual for children might not be so for your own child.
If you have been able to get an accurate diagnosis, you are well on your way. Your child’s psychiatrist may offer medication or a combination of medication and psychotherapy. The doctor may suggest that another person (such as a social worker or psychologist (provide the therapy while he overseas the medication. The therapist generally talks extensively with the child about his feelings and conflicts, his current problems, and how to establish good relationships with those around him.
As you see, it eventually builds down to building relationships with the child. Why not you be the first one to build a solid one?
When to talk to the doctor about your child’s mental health?
- Marked fall in school performance.
- A lot of worry or anxiety, as shown by regular refusal to go to school, go to sleep or take part in activities that are normal for the child’s age.
- Hyperactivity; fidgeting; constant movement beyond regular playing.
- Persistent nightmares.
- Persistent disobedience or aggression (longer than 6 months) and provocative opposition to authority figures.
- Frequent, unexplainable temper tantrums.
Pre-adolescents and Adolescents
- Marked change in school performance.
- Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Inability to cope with problems and daily activities.
- Marked changes in sleeping and/or eating habits.
- Many complaints of physical ailments.
- Aggressive or non-aggressive consistent violation of rights of others; opposition to authority, truancy, thefts, vandalism.
- Intense fear of becoming obese with no relationship to actual body weight.
- Depression shown by sustained, prolonged negative mood and attitude, often accompanied by poor appetite, difficulty sleeping or thoughts of death.
- Frequent outbursts of anger.