Category Archives: Health

Beyond Imaginary Friends: Signs And Treatment Of Schizophrenia In Childhood

Schizophrenia is a rare but severe medical illness that usually manifests in adulthood. But the onset and its early warning signs may appear during childhood and adolescence.

Diagnosing schizophrenia is very difficult because of its rare manifestation in children under age 13, and because the symptoms are similar to autism and conduct disorder. Ruling out the latter disorders, which are more common among children, is the first step to a prognosis for schizophrenia. Some early indications of the disease are language delays, unusual motor behaviors, and hearing voices that are not real.

Image source: nhs.uk
Image source: nhs.uk

The disease progresses in puberty, at which point an adolescent may recognize that their experiences are a cause for concern. Signs of a developing psychosis are hallucinations, disorganized thinking or bizarre thoughts, paranoia, severe anxiety, confusing movies or dreams from reality, increased isolation, and difficulty in focusing.

Image source: everylivingthing.ca
Image source: everylivingthing.ca

Children and adolescents showing these symptoms must be evaluated by a specialist immediately for early diagnosis. The disease can be managed with medication, individual and family therapy, specialized programs, and life skills training.

Dr. Jonathan Lauter is a certified psychiatrist and a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He runs a private practice in Manhattan and holds a clinic at the Refuah Health Center in Spring Valley, New York. For more articles on child and adolescent mental health, subscribe here.

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Responding To The Needs Of a Hyperactive Child

Parenting a child with special needs is not an easy task. Taking care of a child diagnosed with ADHD requires utmost patience and understanding. For parents, this can be physically and mentally taxing, but the key is to learn about your child’s condition to better understand and respond to his needs.

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Image source: rutgers.edu

The Children and Adults with ADHD defines ADHD as a neurobiological disorder characterized by chronic and developmentally inappropriate degrees of inattention, impulsivity, and in some cases, hyperactivity. Characteristics and symptoms of hyperactivity include difficulty engaging in activities quietly, squirming, fidgeting, and excessive energy. Early diagnosis is crucial for successful intervention. Talk to a qualified child psychologist or development pediatrician if you suspect symptoms of ADHD in your child.

There are several treatment options and educational strategies that can help your child manage ADHD. Seek support from therapists, doctors, and teachers to create a multidisciplinary intervention plan for your child. At home, you can also employ different strategies to effectively teach the child important skills and behaviors. Children with ADHD greatly benefit from consistency and predictability. Establish a routine and set clear rules so that your child knows what to expect and what to do. Don’t forget praise and positive reinforcement as well. Celebrate your child’s strengths through simple rewards to reinforce good behavior.

 Image source: linkedin.com
Image source: linkedin.com

Many challenges come with raising a child with ADHD but with support and understanding, your child can successfully manage his or her condition.

Jonathan B. Lauter, M.D. is certified general and child and adolescent psychiatrist and an expert in neurobehavioral disorders such as ADHD. Subscribe to this blog to read more about mental health.

Puppy Love: A Psychological Perspective On First Love

Adolescence brings about many changes. One of the most important growth milestones is the occurrence of new feelings such as first love. Mental health practitioners have tried to study the many effects of love and have still not yet fully understood both the lasting physiological and emotional effects of the feeling. However, these experts all agree that the purest – and perhaps the rawest – manifestation of first love is the one exhibited by teenagers. This is because this form of love is deemed to be the first in terms of discovering romantic love mixed with a healthy dose of physical desire.

Image source: joansdigest.com
Image source: joansdigest.com

“Puppy love” as the phase is called is a fascinating stage, and thus, has become a popular subject in studies in various fields. From a psychological perspective, though, this form of love has many intriguing concepts. It is not random that Romeo and Juliet were teenagers. Even without the death and gore, teenagers often report feeling a sense of overwhelming desire toward their partner. The feeling of love is intensified by the inevitable personal growth one experiences in adolescence. This is, perhaps, one of the main reasons first love seems so powerful. The significant other suddenly becomes integral to the personal development of an individual. Adolescents cannot distinguish the happiness and self-fulfillment they with the other person. From a survivalist point of view, the love becomes necessary instead of wanted. This may be why other emotions, such jealousy and insecurity, also manifest in first love.

Image source: thecollegecrush.com
Image source: thecollegecrush.com

Psychologists understand that as children age, their maturity does as well. This helps teach individuals the difference in infatuation from actual mature love; the latter being essential in any successful adult relationship.

Dr. Jonathan Lauter is a certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. His practice deals with the myriad of experiences children and teenagers experience. Through his work, children can deal with the many challenges in life with confidence and strength. Learn more by liking this Facebook page.

Not Morning People: The Root Causes and Ramifications of Adolescent Sleep Problems

Circadian rhythms vary significantly among individuals, leading to such habitual patterns such as night owls and morning larks. Some simply cannot pull through a night but be up by dawn whereas others can party past midnight and find making it to an 8 A.M. shift that much more impossible. There appears to be a factor of age involved as well; teens, in general, are consummate night owls whose circadian rhythms frequently begin much later than adults do.

This rhythm is described as something akin to a “permanent state of jet lag” by professor Russell Foster of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford. This is thought to be related to the hormonal changes taking place during puberty; the trend toward later waking times continues until the ages of 19 and 21 for women and men respectively and reverses back to childhood patterns at around the mid-50s.

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Image source: newscientist.com

Teens also need more sleep compared with their adult counterparts, at about 9 hours a night. This is a challenge, as due to a number of lifestyle factors, teens manage to receive less sleep. Teens begin school hours in the morning, against their natural rhythm. Today’s adolescent is also bombarded with more distractions such as smartphones that can weasel their way into their bedrooms and keep them from sleeping. These lead adolescents to be perpetually groggy and poorly rested, which can severely affect their academic performance.

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Image source: theguardian.com

Much of a teen’s academic underperformance can be tied to sleep issues. Many authorities, including professor Foster, have argued to move school hours later in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the ever-present advice of keeping all non-sleep activities away from the bedroom still stands. Teens and their parents are encouraged to keep smartphones and other distracting gadgets away from the bedroom.

Jonathan B. Lauter, M.D., is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and is certified both in general and child and adolescent psychiatry. Follow this blog for more updates.