The definition, comprehension, and categorization of psychiatric and behavioral disorders have elicited efforts from psychiatrists to facilitate the development of the best treatments in a bid to alleviate such complexities in children. Children that portray mental and behavioral disorders have evoked psychiatrists to examine the protean complexity of their brains. In this regard, both biological and environmental factors account for distress and abnormal behavior among children. Therefore, varying aspects of nature and nurture tend to pose a broad range of questions that epidemiologists have to give a response to regarding behavioral disorders amongst children. This paper will explore the questions that epidemiologists ought to answer in a bid to enhance the understanding of the patterns and causes of psychiatric or behavioral disorders in children.
Issues in the Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Disorders
Various contentious and sensitive questions have puzzled psychologists in their efforts to understand the children’s behavior as induced by biological and environmental factors. Psychiatrists have experienced challenges in the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders among children since the procedure is more complicated as compared to the case of adults (Edwards & Hans, 2015). The identification of the types of behavioral problems is also critical in understanding the children’s psychiatric issues. Explaining normal behavior in children has also been challenging to epidemiologists due to the varying aspects that facilitate behavior and personality development. The explanation of the factors that cause psychiatric and behavioral problems is also essential in this case. The following section highlights some of the questions that epidemiologists need to answer regarding mental and behavioral issues among children.
What are the Types of Behavioral Problems in Children?
Children may face several types of mental disorders that have implications for their emotional, social, and physical growth. The main psychiatric and behavioral disorders experienced by children include depression, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), and conduct disorder (CD) (Strohl, 2011). Thus, epidemiologists need to explain the different types of behavioral and psychiatric disorders that affect children.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
ODD is a behavioral disorder that is portrayed by children in terms of hostility, negativity, and irritability. Therefore, epidemiologists need to answer the questions directed towards the features of this type of behavioral disorder. The symptoms that characterize ODD include temperament, annoyance, meanness, and rebellion against authoritative figures (Strohl, 2011). In this respect, it is important to understand how deviant behavior directed towards authoritative figures and peers signify a child’s behavioral disorders.
Conduct Behavior (CD)
The escalation of ODD leads to CD among children who experience psychological disequilibrium. In this regard, epidemiologists need to inform the relevant parties on the preventive measures that address behavioral disorders in a bid to avoid deterioration. Professional help is vital for the alleviation of CD since it is a critical psychiatric disorder that could be detrimental if it is not treated (Strohl, 2011). For this reason, mitigating the effects of aggressiveness, threatening life, damage to property, disregarding other peoples’ thoughts, and stealing among other behaviors is essential as it adds value to the treatment process.
Depression is most prevalent in children between the ages of six and twelve, and thus it requires psychiatric attention. Epidemiologists should facilitate the explanation of the attributes of depression among children to their parents and other relevant parties. Children that portray persistent emotions of sadness are usually under depression. Parents should be watchful of behaviors like abnormal sleeping patterns and changes in eating habits. Symptoms of depression in children may include poor academic performance, shouting outbursts, suicidal thoughts, perpetual complaining, and aggression (Edwards & Hans, 2015). In this respect, the attributes of depression need to be unmasked as they depict psychiatric behavioral issues in children.
What Causes Psychiatric or Behavioral Problems in Children?
Understanding the underlying issues that lead to psychiatric and behavioral disorders in children is significant for preventive and mitigation efforts. In this essence, epidemiologists ought to address the nature and nurture factors that lead to a child’s psychiatric and behavioral disorders. Children that have been affected by ODD are usually raised in families that depict a history of behavioral and mood problems and even drug and substance abuse in some cases. The symptoms of ODD are often developed due to poor caregiving, the absence of supervision, exposure to violence, or family discord. Both ODD and CD are attributed to weak or harsh parenting styles that lead to depression, thus resulting in psychiatric and behavioral disorders. Mental imbalances such as anxiety, depression, and AD/HD are also accountable for the psychiatric and behavioral problems in children due to the lack of proper treatment (Edwards & Hans, 2015). In this light, answering this question implies that psychiatrists and other behavioral scientists would facilitate research that is geared towards the curtailment of the factors that cause the disorders.
What is Normal and Abnormal Behavior?
The issue of normal versus abnormal behavior in children has elicited mixed reactions from various parties in the field of psychology. For this reason, the concerned parties must know the aspects that differentiate normal behavior from abnormal in the personality development of children. Being normal is usually attributed to the children’s portrayal of average traits, which conform with the expectations of society. On the other hand, abnormal behavior is associated with deviance and delinquency in children. Additionally, abnormal behavior is characterized by mental problems like depression and anxiety (Edwards & Hans, 2015). For example, swift changes in mood and temper tantrums are regarded as abnormal in adults, but normal behaviors in children. In this regard, epidemiologists should answer the question of normal versus abnormal behavior by providing an in-depth analysis that shapes the behavior of children.
What Behaviors Constitute a Particular Disorder?
Consensus has been lacking in the medical fraternity in determining what behaviors are related to a specific disorder. For instance, a child might be diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, or bipolar disorder by three different psychiatrists, thus raising questions about professionalism in the field. Therefore, the administration of potentially toxic drugs like Risperdal, Lamictal, Depakote, Abilify, and Lithium to a child would result in inefficiencies in the treatment. In this regard, epidemiologists ought to facilitate a clear diagnosis of various psychiatric and behavioral disorders in children in a bid to facilitate the appropriate treatment that would uphold ethical medical practices.
What Treatment is Effective for Psychiatric and Behavioral Disorders in Children?
The field of epidemiology should work towards providing a guideline for the effective treatment and mitigation of behavioral and psychiatric complications that challenge children. Epidemiologists are expected to elaborate on the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in the treatment of ODD in children. This aspect implies that the sensitization of anger and moods’ improvement mechanisms would be facilitated by CBT, thus inhibiting the worsening of the children’s behavior towards detrimental levels (Edwards & Hans, 2015). In this regard, making children aware of their thinking patterns would enhance the management of their cognitive framework by considering the implications of the actions that shape their behavior.
Epidemiologists could also promote the significance of social skills in the treatment of ODD in their undertakings. The acquisition of norms that shape behavioral standards of children through family therapy could also be emphasized in a bid to foster nature and nurture aspects of the children’s behavioral development. Additionally, epidemiologists could outline the family functions and promote effective parenting styles by answering the question of effective treatment. The alternative of considering the mitigation of other psychiatric and behavioral conditions experienced by children like anxiety, depression, and ADHD enhances the alleviation of ODD and CD complications. Emphasis on early intervention and treatment for ODD could also be facilitated to avoid its escalation to CD, which requires complex treatment regimens.
The field of psychology has been at the forefront in activities that are geared towards the diagnosis and therapy of psychiatric and behavioral disorders through the efforts of psychiatrists. The need to improve the field has elicited the necessity of epidemiologists to answer several questions about the children’s behavior about factors like parenting styles and biological issues. Therefore, answering questions on the types of behavioral disorders, the causes, normal/abnormal behavior, the symptoms of a particular disorder, and treatment is vital to understanding the aspects surrounding the issue.
Edwards, R., & Hans, S. (2015). Infant risk factors associated with internalizing, externalizing, and co-occurring behavior problems in young children. Developmental Psychology, 51(4), 489-499.
Strohl, M. (2011). Bradley’s Benzedrine Studies on Children with Behavioral Disorders. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 84(1), 27-33.