What is it? And can it be cured?
Thesis: I think that mental illness can be cured. But not all types of mental illness. The same way not all types of illness can be cured but some can, with early detection and intervention/treatment. I have made this prediction after a deep dive into this topic and research.
My science fair project will focus on this topic. COVID-19 has barely been around for a year and it has changed the lives of millions of people. We’ve had to adapt to a sudden change in lifestyle that we aren’t used to. Social distancing, wearing masks, and limited social interaction are just some of the things that have changed our way of life. All our lives we have been taught to interact with people, and now we can’t anymore. So, it only makes sense that COVID-19 has taken a toll on people’s mental health, especially kids and teens.
AccordIng to Dr. Nneka Ononye, a Child and Adolescence Psychiatrist, the impact COVID-19 has had on kids and teens with the disorders mentioned in my presentation, is huge. During the lockdown, kids and teens with mental health disorders were unable to physically see their doctors, therapists etc.and met with them virtually. Many did not feel as supported as usual not being able to see them in person.
Anxiety definition: An emotion with characteristics like feelings of tension, negative/worried thoughts, and physical changes as well, like higher blood pressure.
Anxiety is not just one disorder. There are multiple types of anxiety disorders.
- Feeling wound-up, or on-edge
- Having trouble concentrating
- Being irritable
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
- Having trouble with sleep
- Feeling weak and tired
- Rapid breathing
- Stress from work/school
- Relationship stress
- Financial stress
- Death or loss of a loved one
- Abuse (verbal,sexual,emotional etc.)
Anxiety in children is very common, in fact one in eight children will experience anxiety. Fortunately, as they grow they usually develop skills to calm themselves and help them cope with it. Unfortunately, anxiety in children may also become persistent and chronic, and may develop into an anxiety disorder. Not being in control of their anxiety might interfere with everyday activities, and may lead to children being anti social with peers and family. Treatment for children includes talk therapy and medication.
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Not sleeping, or waking up in the night with nightmares
- Not eating properly
- Constant worrying or negative thoughts
- Feeling tense and fidgety
- Using the bathroom often
Teenagers may have multiple reasons to be anxious. Dates, college, family, friends, and the list goes on. But, teens that have anxious feelings and anxiety symptoms frequently have an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms in teens include:
- Isolationist behaviours
These may lead teens to engaging in unusual behaviors. They might act out, perform poorly in school, skip social events, and may engage in substance, and/or alcohol use. Treatment for teenage anxiety includes talk therapy and medication.
Depression definition: A mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. Depression affects how you feel, and can lead to physical and mental problems.
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Sleep problems/changes
- Uncontrollable emotions
- Loss of interest
- Suicidal thoughts
- Anger or irritability
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Loss of energy
- Reckless behavior
- Concentration problems
- Family history
- Early childhood trauma
- Brain structure
- Medical conditions
- Drug use
Depression in children can be caused by multiple factors that have to do with physical health, life experiences, family history, and more. Depression isn’t a passing mood. This condition isn’t one that will go away without proper treatment. Kids that have a history of depression in their families have a higher risk of experiencing depression themselves. Children of parents that suffer with depression usually develop their first depression episode before children whose parents don’t suffer from it. Children from conflicted or chaotic families also have a greater risk of suffering from it. Up to 3% of children in America suffer from depression. Look out for these symptoms in your child.
- Irritability or anger
- Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep
- Vocal outbursts or crying
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
Treatment for childhood depression includes counseling and medication.
Depression in teens affects how teens act,think,feel, and behave. And, can cause emotional, functional, as well as physical problems.
- Feelings of sadness
- Feelings of anger
- Feeling hopeless or empty
- Irritable or annoyed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
- Loss of interest, or conflict with, family and friends
- Low self-esteem
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble thinking
- Suicidal thoughts
Changes in behaviour can include:
- Tiredness and energy loss
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite
- Alcohol or drug use
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
- Self harm
- Social isolation
- Suicide attempts/plans
If symptoms get worse talk to a doctor or a mental health professional. Symptoms may not get better on their own, but left untreated, they might get worse and/or lead to other problems. Treatment for teenage depression includes psychological counseling and medication.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD definition- OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted, and ritualized, repetitive behaviours you feel required to perform .
OCD is an anxiety disorder.
- Fear of contamination or dirt
- Needing things orderly and symmetrical
- Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself and others
- Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual and religious subjects
- Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty
- Genetic and hereditary factors
- Distorted beliefs
When children have OCD they have obsessive thoughts that are unwanted. These thoughts are linked with fears, like touching dirty objects. They use compulsive rituals as a way to control these fears. An example of this is excessive hand washing. As kids grow these rituals and obsessive thoughts happen because of a purpose and focus that is based on their age.
- An extreme obsession with dirt or germs
- Repeated doubts
- Interfering thoughts about violence, hurting or killing someone, or harming oneself
- Long periods of time spent touching things, counting,and thinking about numbers and sequences.
- Too much attention to detail
- Aggressive thought, urges, and behavior
Treatment for childhood OCD depends on your child’s age, symptoms, and health, as well as, how severe the condition is. Treatment includes Therapy (family, etc.) Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and antibiotics.
OCD in teens isn’t uncommon, they frequently worry about small things, and these things cause them to behave in certain ways over and over again. Statistics show that at least 1 in 200 teens in the U.S have OCD.
- Fear of dirt and germs
- Fear of contamination
- A need for symmetry, order, and precision
- Religious obsessions
- Lucky and unlucky numbers
- Sexual or aggressive thoughts
Treatment for teenage OCD includes medication and therapy.
Schizophrenia definition: Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects a person's thoughts, feelings,and behaviour. People that suffer with this illness may seem like they’ve lost touch of reality, and this causes significant distress for the individual, their family, and friends. Schizophrenia is a chronic illness that requires lifelong treatment.
- Disorganized thinking
- Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behaviour
- Are unknown
Schizophrenia in children is an uncommon, but severe mental illness that causes children to see reality abnormally. Childhood schizophrenia usually involves a range of problems in thinking,behaviour, or emotions. It can result in a combination of hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking and behaviour that damage a child’s ability to function.
- Language delays
- Late or unusual crawling
- Late walking
Treatment for childhood schizophrenia includes medication, psychotherapy, life skills training, and hospitalization.
Teenage schizophrenia can be hard to spot, it can sometimes be hard to spot the difference between teenage mood swings, and mental illness, but this illness usually begins in late adolescence and early adulthood.
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- A drop in performance at school
- Trouble sleeping
- Irritability or depressed mood
- Lack of motivation
- Strange behaviour
- Substance use
Teens are less likely to experience:
- Visual hallucinations
Treatment for teenage schizophrenia includes medication and psychotherapy.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
ADHD definition: A disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
- Constant fidgeting
- Being unable to sit still
- Excessive physical movement
- Excessive talking
- Being unable to wait your turn
- Acting without thinking
- Interrupting conversations
- Brain anatomy
- Significant head injuries
- (In extremely rare cases) toxins in the environment
ADHD in children is a chronic disorder that has affected millions of children. Children that suffer from ADHD may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships, and poor academic performances.
- Predominantly inattentive
- Predominantly hyperactive
- Predominantly impulsive
ADHD cannot be cured but treatment includes medication.
ADHD in teenagers can start in childhood and go into teen years. During teenage years, especially as the hormonal changes of adolescence are going and the demands that school brings increase, ADHD could possibly get worse. Because of the problems that ADHD brings, a lot of teens with ADHD have problems in school. And grades may drop, especially if they are not getting treated.
- Poor concentration
Treatment for teenage ADHD includes medication.
Mental illness definition: Health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking, and behaviour. These illnesses are associated with distress caused by Problems involving social issues, work and family activities and more. Mental illness is very common.
Yes, some mental illnesses can be cured with the proper treatment etc.
COVID-19 played a big part of my interest in this topic, but another reason for me choosing this topic was to educate myself and others about mental illness and the life changing toll on ones ability to live a wholesome fulfilling life.
I'd like to acknowledge Dr.Nneka Ononye. For providing me with some of my information.