Teens early mental disorder detection

Depression just happens. Often teenagers react to the pain of depression by getting into trouble: trouble with alcohol, drugs, or sex; trouble with school or bad grades; problems with family or friends. This is another reason why it’s important to get treatment for depression before it leads to other trouble.

Sometimes teenagers are being neglected by our society, both medically and emotionally. Between 20 and 30 percent of adolescents report symptoms of depression. While depression once was considered an “adult” affliction, the mean age of onset today is 15.But getting these teens diagnosed and cared for is a challenge that is not being met.

A lack of early treatment for children and teenagers can lead to debilitating problems such as drug abuse and obsessive compulsive disorders. When we talk about academic standards, we cannot leave the almost one million teens with depression behind. Screening is a tool every district should be using to better understand why some students are struggling.

In the United States, depression is the most common mental health disorder. Each year it affects 17 million people of all age groups, races, and economic backgrounds. As many as 1 in every 33 children may have depression; in teens, that number may be as high as 1 in 8. If you suspect that your child is depressed, you’ll want to learn more about what depression is, what causes it, and what you can do if your child is depressed.

Scientists now believe, are so significant that teens may unlock the mysteries of mental illness, explaining why some teens take their own lives, why others harm their classmates and loved ones, or why some emerge later in life with crippling mental disorders. Risk behaviors among teens are prevalent and can lead to increased morbidity, mortality, and health care costs, so identifying and dealing with problematic issues as they arise can help teens be safer and healthier.

Social stigma behind teen’s mental disorder:

White adolescents with high exposure to R-rated movies were nearly seven times more likely to start smoking compared with those who had low exposure and lead to some behavioral effect.

There is a relationship between sleep apnoea, snoring, REM sleep behavior disorders, narcolepsy, night epilepsy or hypersomnia and future neurodegenerative pathologies.

Sometimes childhood spots often appear during infancy and early childhood. The spots will not harm your child. As children grow older, the spots and tumors tend to increase in number and size. The neurofibromas (tumors to grow on nerves) are particularly prone to increase in size during the teen years and pregnancy. Learning disorders are more common to them. Speech problems, hyperactivity, attention problems, seizures, and mental retardation are also somewhat more common and may contribute to the learning problems. High blood pressure may occur.

There are daytime neurobehavioral performance impairments that are found commonly in commercial drivers, and these are more likely among those who get an average of five or less hours of sleep a night and those who suffer from severe obstructive sleep apnea,” the researchers at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine concluded.

The importance of these results lie firstly in the future possibility of administrating neuroprotective drugs to teens with the mental disorder that have still not developed a degenerative disease. Furthermore, the detection of these patients will permit an early administration of palliative drugs, which are already available. This constellation of behavior problems is really the thing we are trying to avoid.

Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University found a simple and brief screening measure called the adolescent risk inventory (ARI) can quickly identify the broad range of risk behaviors found among adolescents. In most states, there will be a perceived need for states to invest in service capacity development for both children’s mental health and adolescent substance abuse.

The ARI is brief and broad in it assessment of behaviors, these barriers can be overcome and allow pediatricians, family doctors and mental health professionals to make referrals based on the information they get from the teen.

The analyses also provided intriguing data on the relationship between sex risk, psychopathology, and behavior in that abuse or self-harm behaviors were highly predictive of sex risk. This is important because while many clinicians are aware of the sexual risks that aggressive youths take, many are unaware of the association between risky sexual behavior and emotional distress, abuse and self-harm. Behaviors like self-cutting thoughts, suicidal thoughts or attempts, or a history of sexual abuse should alert clinicians to the potential for significant sexual risk, the researchers concluded.

NIMH scientists are to search for factors that specifically influence the development of a treatment plan for adolescents with depression.

Youth who are going to develop psychosis can be identified before their illness becomes full-blown 35 percent of the time if they meet widely accepted criteria for risk, but that figure rises to 65 to 80 percent if they have certain combinations of risk factors, the largest study of its kind has shown. Knowing what these combinations are can help scientists predict who is likely to develop the illnesses within two to three years with the same accuracy that other kinds of risk factors can predict major medical diseases, such as diabetes.

Plans for studies to confirm the results, a necessary step before the findings can be considered for use with patients in health-care settings, are underway.

The research was conducted in youth with a median age of 16 and was funded primarily by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. Results were published in the January, 2008, issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry by lead researchers Tyrone D. Cannon, Ph.D., of the University of California Los Angeles, and Robert Heinssen, Ph.D., of NIMH, with colleagues from seven other research facilities.

The combinations of factors that predicted psychosis included:

  • Deteriorating social functioning (for example, spending increasing amounts of time alone in one’s room, doing nothing);
  • A family history of psychosis combined with recent decline in ability to function (such as a drop in grades not explained by other factors or an unexplained withdrawal from extracurricular school activities).
  • Increase in unusual thoughts (such as thinking that strangers’ conversations are about oneself);
  • Increase in suspicion/paranoia (such as suspicion of being followed); and
  • Past or current drug abuse.

“When teens have a dive in grades or drop out of the school band, and it happens against a backdrop of family history of schizophrenia and recent troubling changes in perception — like hearing nondistinct buzzing or crackling sounds, or seeing fleeting images that disappear with a second glance — more often than not it indicates that psychosis is fairly imminent,” Cannon said.

If participants had an unrealistic belief that they were being followed, for example, but could be shown that their troubling thoughts were unfounded, the researchers considered them as having a risk factor, but not yet psychosis. But if the participants’ sense of being followed became unshakable, despite evidence to the contrary, or became disabling, the researchers considered them as having crossed a threshold to psychosis.

Research shows that intervention during the early stages of psychosis improves outcomes, but it is not yet clear if even earlier intervention, before a psychotic illness develops, is effective.

“Having this more accurate ability to measure who’s likely to develop psychosis will be a great asset. Identifying young people in need of intervention is crucial, but the results of this research can help us do more than that. It can eventually help us determine the most effective time to intervene,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D.

Researchers from the facilities that conducted the study used similar criteria and techniques to evaluate 291 high-risk youth, about three times as many as had been evaluated in any previous study of this kind. In addition to being smaller, earlier studies had used different criteria and measuring techniques from one another, which clouded the picture and resulted in only moderate accuracy in predicting psychotic illness.

In this study, a total of 35 percent of participants with at least one risk factor developed a psychotic illness within the 30-month study timeframe. A separate group of 134 healthy people with no known risk factors for psychosis served as a control group, for comparison. None of them developed a psychotic illness.

Researchers also found that the youth who progressed to a psychotic disorder tended to do so relatively quickly. Twenty-two percent developed psychosis within the first year of follow-up, an additional 11 percent by the end of the second year, and 3 percent more by two-and-a-half years (adding up to the total percentage of people — 35 percent — who developed psychosis in this study).

“The message here is that once we identify people as being high risk, we have a very good chance of knowing whether or not they’re likely to develop a serious mental disorder like schizophrenia and that, if they do, it will happen fairly quickly. That’s such a critical window of opportunity for getting them the help they need,” said Heinssen.

In one follow-up survey of parents of children who were identified through teen screen as having clinically significant psychiatric symptoms, including suicidal tendencies, 72% reported that their child was doing very well or had significantly improved and was seeing a mental health professional.

Finally, there is concern about the high sensitivity but relatively low specificity of the screening instruments, a combination that leads to many false positive results. The potential consequences of falsely identifying a teen as needing a more thorough psychiatric evaluation seem far less dire, however, than those of failing to identify a suicidal teenager. Stigma is real, but unlike suicide, it doesn’t kill.

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