General Categories of mental disorders of children


Mental disorders with onset in childhood and adolescence are listed in the table below, adapted from DSM-IV. These disorders fall into a number of broad categories, most of which apply not just to children but across the entire life span: anxiety disorders; attention-deficit and disruptive behavior disorders; autism and other pervasive developmental disorders; eating disorders (e.g., anorexia nervosa); elimination disorders (e.g., enuresis, encopresis); learning and communication disorders; mood disorders (e.g., major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder); schizophrenia; and tic disorders (Tourette’s disorder). Several of the more common childhood conditions are described below.

Disorders of anxiety and mood are characterized by the repeated experience of intense internal or emotional distress over a period of months or years. Feelings associated with these conditions may be those of unreasonable fear and anxiety, lasting depression, low self-esteem, or worthlessness.

Syndromes of depression and anxiety very commonly co-occur in children. The disorders in this broad group include separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depressive disorder, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder (DSM-IV).

Children with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders often suffer from disordered cognition or thinking and have difficulty understanding and using language, understanding the feelings of others, or, more generally, understanding the world around them. Such disorders are often associated with severe learning difficulties and impaired intelligence. The disorders in this category include the pervasive developmental disorders, autism, Asperger’s disorder, and Rett’s disorder (DSM-IV).

It is not uncommon for a child to have more than one disorder or to have disorders from more than of these groups. Thus, children with pervasive development disorders often suffer from ADHD. Children with a conduct disorder are often depressed, and the various anxiety disorders may co-occur with mood disorders. Learning disorders are common in all these conditions, as are alcohol and other substance use disorders (DSM-IV)

Selected Mental Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence from the DSM-IV:
• Anxiety Disorders
• Attention-Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders
• Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders
• Eating Disorders
• Elimination Disorders
• Learning and Communication Disorders
• Mood Disorders (e.g., Depressive Disorders)
• Schizophrenia
• Tic Disorders