Entries in Mental Disorder (4)


Study: Bullies Nearly Twice as Likely to Have Mental Health Disorder

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Mental disorders plague many adults who were bullied as children, but a new study suggests that those who had mental health disorders during childhood are three times more likely to become bullies.

Researchers at Brown University analyzed survey responses from parents of nearly 64,000 children ages 6 to 17 who were identified as having a mental health disorder, and those who were identified as bullies.

An estimated 15 percent of U.S. children in 2007 were identified as bullies by a parent or guardian, according to the responses, which were part of the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health.

Those who were considered the bullies were more than twice as likely to experience depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder.  They were also six times more likely to be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, characterized by ongoing episodes of anger and hostility, especially toward authority figures, such as parents, teachers or other adults.

"This study gives us a better understanding of the risk profiles of bullies," said Dr. Stefani Hines, director at the center for human development at Beaumont Children's Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

Hines was not involved in the study, which was presented Monday at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting in New Orleans.

The findings do not surprise many experts, who say the symptoms of these disorders characterize many bullies.

According to Alan Hilfer, chief psychologist at Maimonedes Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the disorders, such as ADHD, "often lead to impulsive and at times aggressive behaviors" that are common among bullies.

Bullies often continue the cycle of social abuse that they have experienced themselves, he said.

"They can be depressed, fearful, and they often take out some of their anger and frustration on others down the pecking order," said Hilfer.

Support is often given to the bullied peers who are seen as victims, the researchers said.  Many bullies should also be viewed as victims and offered help to change their behavior, they said.

"This finding emphasizes the importance of providing psychological support to not only victims of bullying but bullies as well," the researchers wrote.

The study did not look at the likelihood that bullies would have a mental health disorder, only that some children who have a disorder were more likely to be identified as bullies.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hypersexuality Disorder in Line to Become a Mental Diagnosis

Courtesy Candy Cane(NEW YORK) -- He goes by the online name Candy Cane, and his sexual urges have taken over his life, escalating exponentially each day.

Married and the father of five children, the 51-year-old spends more than six hours a day Internet video-chatting, taking photos of himself and seeking out male and female partners.

Candy, a retired combat medic who lives in the Southwest, said he has survived two military conflicts, but nothing has been as challenging as fighting his addiction to sex.

"I have become reckless and uncaring about losing anything," said Candy, who was too embarrassed to use his real name.  "I care more about my sexual urges than my family right now."

"I am losing control and I am going to end up with an STD or AIDS," he said.

Candy exhibits all the symptoms of hypersexuality disorder, a proposed medical diagnosis that psychiatrists hope will be part of the DSM-5, the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Dr. Martin Kafka, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School who is the primary author of the revisions to the DSM, said proponents hope the DSM listing would open the door to more research that might help people like Candy.

"If you review the empirical research literature in the last 20 years from a variety of perspectives, it looks at the problem and calls it by different names, but all of these names have a lot in common when describing the same phenomenon," said Kafka.

If approved, hypersexuality disorder will be defined as exhibiting repetitive, intense sexual fantasies, urges and behavior in association with the following criteria in adults:

  • excessive time consumed planning and engaging in sex -- in response to a dysphoric mood state like anxiety, depression, boredom and irritability;
  • in response to stressful life events; and
  • unsuccessful efforts to control or reduce such urges, disregarding risk for physical or emotional harm to self or others.

The behavior must also cause "clinically significant distress or impairment" in a person's daily personal or work life.

"If this problem gets to the point where you are being labeled as a philanderer or a scoundrel or a nasty narcissist, and it happens there is a label of hypersexuality disorder that does validly describe the nature of your behavior, one possibility is reframing the problem and getting medical treatment," Kafka added.

But Dr. Allen Frances, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University in Durham, N.C., said the proposal is "a really stupid idea" that might lead those who misbehave to cry, 'It's not my fault.'"

"There may be some very small percentage of people who could qualify for addiction to sex, but if it ever became a diagnosis, it would be wildly misapplied," he said.  "Addiction implies that you keep doing it when there is no more pleasure and it causes harm.  It becomes an excuse to misbehave."

Frances, who worked on the DSM-4, argues that too many "normal behaviors" have been viewed as illness.

"Medicalizing this sort of misbehavior is reducing personal responsibility and acting like there is a medical solution," he said.  "There is very little scientific evidence and the boundaries are fuzzy."

Kafka admits that there is more clinical than scientific data on sexual hyperactivity, but including it as a disorder in the DSM-5 will open doors to that kind of research.

"By calling it an illness, you could be quite relieved that for something you have not really been able to control on your own, help is available," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Autism Plus Mental Illness Affects Disorder's Course, Study Says

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Additional mental disorders, such as learning disabilities, speech problems and epilepsy, could help predict which children might grow out of their autism diagnosis as they age, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied more than 1,300 children who had been diagnosed with autism. The researchers found that certain disorders distinguished children who had a current autism diagnosis from those who had fallen out of the autism category as they aged.

The disorders varied for autistic children of different ages.  In children ages 3 to 5, those with autism were 11 times as likely to have a learning disability and nine times as likely to have a developmental delay as those children who had grown out of an official autism diagnosis.

Autistic children ages 6 to 11 were nearly four times as likely to have past speech problems and 3.5 times as likely to have moderate to severe anxiety.

Autistic teenagers were 10 times as likely to have seizures or epilepsy as children who were no longer classified as autistic.

The symptoms of these different disorders greatly overlap with the symptoms of autism, which is defined by a broad spectrum of behavioral, social and communication deficits.  But the researchers say the study suggests that separate diagnoses of learning disabilities or speech problems appeared to predict which kids would continue to be autistic and which ones might grow out of the diagnosis.

"This doesn't mean that a child who has a co-illness is definitely going to change their diagnosis status," said Heather Close, one of the study's authors. "But we were able to establish some associations with different disorders."

Lori Warner, director of the HOPE Center for Autism at the Beaumont Children's Hospital Center in Royal Oak, Mich., said that kind of information could prove valuable to therapists studying and treating autistic children.

"We're always looking for anything that helps us potentially predict who's going to continue to have a diagnosis and who won't," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


One in Five Teens Has Mental Disorder

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new study in the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds 20 percent of American teenagers suffer from some kind of mental disorder severe enough to have an impact on their day-to-day lives.  Even more have had some kind of less severe mental difficulty. 

The researchers say their study is the first to show such a broad range of problems in a nationally representative sample.  They say severe emotional and behavior disorders are more common than the most frequent physical conditions from which teens suffer.  Those include diabetes and asthma.

Anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks and social phobia were the most commonly reported problems among the more than ten thousand teens studied.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio