Behavior disorders are a group of mental health conditions that change the way a person interacts with the world around them. Many behavior disorders affect the ability to process information and learn, communicate, and think clearly. They’re often diagnosed in childhood and may persist into adulthood.
At Memphis Neurology, our team of expert neurologists diagnoses and treats patients from infants to adults who have any of a number of behavior disorders at our clinics in Germantown, Tennessee, and Southaven, Mississippi. While there are many to consider, we’re going to address three of the most common so you can recognize the signs and seek medical help.
Common behavior disorders
The following are three of the most common behavior disorders we see at Memphis Neurology.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is a relatively common mental disorder that can affect both adults and children. According to psychiatry.org, about 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults are diagnosed with the condition. It’s often identified first in school-aged children when their actions disrupt the classroom or when they have difficulty with schoolwork, and it’s more common in boys.
ADHD symptoms include high activity levels, difficulty staying still or silent, and limited attention spans, all of which are common in children as a whole. What differentiates ADHD is that symptoms greatly exceed what’s expected for the child’s age, and it interferes with home life, school, or relationships with friends.
ADHD may be diagnosed as one of three types:
- Inattentive: difficulty staying focused or paying attention to detail
- Hyperactive/impulsive: fidgety, always chattering, difficulty waiting their turn
- Combined: characteristics of both of the other types
Diagnosis is made based on symptoms over a six-month period.
Children with ADHD who have difficulty in school may qualify for special education and can benefit from study skills instruction, non-standard teaching techniques, and a modified curriculum.
Adults with ADHD are usually treated with medication, psychotherapy, or most often both, with an emphasis on ways to minimize distractions and increase organization and structure.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
People on the autism spectrum may have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and be resistant to changing their daily activities. Signs of ASD typically develop during early childhood and last throughout a person’s life. They may include:
- Having difficulty relating to others or having no interest in other people at all
- Avoiding eye contact
- Wanting to be alone
- Having difficulty understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own
- Preferring not to be held, or cuddling only when they want to
- Seeming to be unaware when people talk to them, but responding to other sounds
- Being very interested in people, but not knowing how to interact with them
- Repeating or echoing words or phrases said to them, or repeating them in place of normal language
Diagnosing ASD may be difficult since there’s no definitive medical test. Instead, doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.
ASD may be detected at 18 months or younger, but an experienced professional can make a reliable diagnosis by age two. However, many children don’t receive a final diagnosis until they’re much older, delaying the early help they need to develop more normally.
There’s no cure for ASD, but research shows early intervention can improve development by teaching important skills. Services include therapies to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others effectively. As soon as you suspect your child may have ASD, bring them into Memphis Neurology for an evaluation and early-intervention treatment.
A mood disorder is a mental health problem that affects a person’s emotional state and their ability to deal with routine activities such as work, relationships, or school. While everyone experiences mood shifts, to be diagnosed with a mood disorder, you must have symptoms for at least several weeks.
Two of the most prevalent mood disorders are major depressive disorder (a pervading feeling of sadness and despair) and bipolar disorder (extreme highs coupled with extreme lows). Symptoms depend on which mood disorder you’ve been diagnosed with.
Causes of mood disorders have been linked to various genetic, biological, and environmental factors.
Treatment depends on the specific illness and symptoms, but it usually involves a combination of medication and some form of psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”).
If you suspect you or your child has a behavior disorder, there’s no time like the present to take action. Contact Memphis Neurology to set up an evaluation with one of our neurologists by calling us at either location or booking online.