Children can suffer the same mental illnesses as adults, but their symptoms can be different. Childhood mental illness can be tricky for parents to identify. Because of this, many kids who would benefit from treatment do not receive the help they require. Recognizing symptoms of mental illness in your child is the first step in managing the condition, and helping a child build the skills to lead a productive life. Read on to learn more.
WHAT IS ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) ranks as one of the top neurodevelopmental ailments of childhood. It is normally diagnosed in childhood and frequently lasts into adulthood. Kids with ADHD can have problems paying attention, or managing impulsive behaviors, and the symptoms are sometimes treated with psychotherapy or drugs like ketamine.
WHAT IS OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) includes a pattern of undesirable fears and thoughts (obsessions) that lead someone to undertake repetitive actions (compulsions). These compulsions and obsessions meddle with daily activities and cause major distress. A person may try to stop or ignore the obsessions, but that only boosts potential distress and anxiety.
SYMPTOMS OF ADHD
It is normal for kids to have trouble behaving and focusing occasionally, but those with ADHD do not grow out of such behaviors. The symptoms persist with severe consequences at school, home, or with friends.
A kid with ADHD might:
- Spend time daydreaming
- Be forgetful and lose things
- Fidget or squirm
- Talk too much
- Take unwarranted risks, make irresponsible mistakes
- Be unable to resist temptation
- Have problems taking turns
- Have problems getting along with others
SYMPTOMS OF OCD
OCD symptoms are repetitive, relentless, and unwanted urges, thoughts, or images which are invasive and cause anxiety or distress.
Symptoms may include:
- Fear of being polluted when touching objects that someone else touched first
- Doubts you turned off the oven or shut the garage
- Stressed when discovering objects are messed up or face the wrong way
- Handwashing until your skin turns raw
- Checking the water constantly to ensure it is off
- Counting in specific patterns
A DANGEROUS RELATIONSHIP
By some estimates, anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of patients with ADHD also have learning disabilities, anxiety, mood disorders, anger issues, and OCD – making for a dangerous, sometimes combustible co-existence.
According to Dr. Larry Silver, “It is not uncommon for someone to have both ADHD and OCD. Since the presenting behaviors might look the same, it is important to know whether both problems exist.
“For reasons that are not known, stimulant medications may exacerbate an existing case of OCD. Or, if the OCD behaviors are minimal and not obvious to parents, a stimulant may make them clinically apparent. The first clue that someone has ADHD and OCD — or may have OCD rather than ADHD — is a significant increase in OCD behaviors after taking a stimulant medication.”
Dr. Silver and other doctors may recommend treating the OCD first. “Once these behaviors are under control, the stimulant can often be reintroduced without causing a flare-up of the OCD behaviors. If you think that your son or daughter may have ADHD and OCD, see a professional who understands the concept of treating someone with more than one disorder.”
When combined, these conditions can result in confusion and abnormal behaviors for many children.
OCD is not curable, but treatment can help manage symptoms and give a child greater control of daily life. In most cases, a doctor or therapist will recommend ongoing psychotherapy, sometimes in combination with prescription medication. Depending on the severity of the illness, a drug like ketamine is another option.
For most children, the go-to option for treating ADHD is ongoing psychotherapy combined with any of the popular drugs classified as stimulants or non-stimulants. Research also is ongoing about the effectiveness of ketamine for children, so ask your doctor or therapist about the potential risks and benefits for your child.
HOW DOES KETAMINE WORK?
According to Harvard Medical School, “It’s not entirely clear how ketamine works. Because it exerts an antidepressant effect through a new mechanism, ketamine may be able to help people successfully manage depression when other treatments have not worked.”
“One likely target for ketamine is NMDA receptors in the brain.” With receptors bound together, ketamine likely boosts the quantity of glutamate, a neurotransmitter, in the areas between neurons and releases other chemicals to help neurons communicate.
ADHD and OCD are serious mental health disorders that can have serious consequences for children if left untreated. The first step is getting the problem diagnosed by a pediatric doctor or mental health professional. If you think you may be dealing with the symptoms of OCD contact us today. We can help.