Child Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences FAQs
To Make an Appointment
- For appointments with the Department of Psychiatry Behavioral Health Clinic, call (916) 734-3574.
- M.I.N.D. Institute referrals are made through the UC Davis Medical Center referral service. Direct referrals from families usually are not accepted. The patient’s primary care physician should call (800) 482-3284.
- What are anxiety disorders?
- What is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
- What is bipolar disorder?
- What is childhood depressive disorder?
- What is conduct disorder?
- What are disruptive behavioral disorders?
- What is dysthymic disorder?
- What is major depressive disorder?
- What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?
- What is oppositional defiant disorder?
- What is panic disorder?
- What is a phobia?
- What is post-traumatic stress disorder?
- What is schizophrenia?
- What is separation anxiety disorder?
An anxiety disorder manifests itself by fear, worry, apprehension or other mental distress so pronounced that it interferes with normal function. A young person with generalized anxiety disorder may appear tense, exceptionally self-conscious or introverted, and lacking in self-esteem. The condition may lead to alcohol or drug abuse. Anxiety disorders encompass phobias, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) renders a child unable to sustain attention or concentration. Children with ADHD are often impulsive or hyperactive, wriggling uncomfortably in their seats and in continual motion during most of their waking hours. They tend to be excessively talkative and have difficulty listening. Treatment can include special education programs, counseling therapy and medication support.
What is bipolar disorder? Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a serious mental illness characterized by erratic, extreme shifts in mood and behavior, ranging from mania to depression. In a manic state, young people may be irritable, unpredictably engage in verbal outbursts, or may be disproportionately jubilant, talkative, adventurous or boastful. During depression cycles, they may exhibit listlessness, fatigue, bouts of irrational crying, disinterest or poor performance in school, or extreme sensitivity to criticism.
A child with depressive disorder suffers repeated episodes of unwarranted, unprovoked depression, heavily cloaked in sadness, boredom and inertia. Depressive orders may take any of several forms, including major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder or bipolar disorder. A depressive disorder may be evident in erratic or poor performance in school, lack of interest in playing with friends, irritability or hostility. Early identification and treatment of depressive disorders can help prevent suicidal behavior. Without proper treatment, childhood depressive disorders may continue into adulthood, with potentially serious implications.
What is conduct disorder? Conduct disorder, a conscious disregard for societal norms, is evident in a pattern of destructive behavior, including intentionally damaging the property of others, cruelty to children or animals, fighting, stealing or arson. Conduct disorder may accompany other underlying problems, such as depression, ADHD or bipolar disorder. Treatment strategies include behavior therapy and psychotherapy. back to top What is conduct disorder? Conduct disorder, a conscious disregard for societal norms, is evident in a pattern of destructive behavior, including intentionally damaging the property of others, cruelty to children or animals, fighting, stealing or arson. Conduct disorder may accompany other underlying problems, such as depression, ADHD or bipolar disorder. Treatment strategies include behavior therapy and psychotherapy.
Disruptive behavioral disorders encompass several subclassifications, including oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. Children with a disruptive behavioral disorder may engage in a variety of undesirable behavioral patterns, including defiance, irritability, emotional rage, cruelty, destructiveness, theft, aggressiveness or lying.
Dysthymic disorder is a depressive condition that typically is less pronounced but more enduring than major depressive disorder. It is diagnosed after a child remains depressed for a year or more. Antidepressant medications can help, along with psychotherapy to help diminish undermining thoughts and behavioral therapy to teach children to interact more productively with family members and friends.
Major depressive disorder — also called major depression — is a debilitating mental condition that becomes evident through any of several symptoms, including pervasive sadness, unexplained change in appetite, excessive sleeping, fatigue, feelings of inferiority, inability to concentrate, loss of interest in recreational activities, or recurrent fixation on death or suicide.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a nervous condition that causes unwanted obsession or repetitive rituals, such as counting steps, fastidious arrangement of objects, or tapping out a pattern on a desktop with the fingertips before beginning homework. Behavioral therapy and medications can be used to treat the disorder.
A young person with oppositional defiant disorder engages in obstinate, hostile, argumentative behavior. Characteristics include defiance to adults, frequent temper tantrums, deliberate annoyance of others, vindictiveness and a generally resentful attitude. Treatment may include anger management therapy as well training to help parents manage the child’s spiteful behavior.
A child with panic disorder experiences recurrent panic attacks, which are terrorizing episodes of fear characterized by rapid heartbeat, trembling, sweating, nausea, faintness or other intense feelings of desperation. Treatment may involve medications and a psychotherapy technique called cognitive-behavioral therapy through which the child can learn to manage a panic attack.
A phobia is an unwarranted gripping fear, such as an aversion to thunderstorms, darkness, dogs, elevators, enclosed spaces or situations in which they believe they may be subject to criticism or ridicule. When a phobia becomes so pronounced that it restricts the activities of a terrified child, treatment is advisable. Treatments include medication and behavior therapy in which the child gradually confronts the feared object or situation under controlled conditions.
Following an emotionally draining or frightening event—such as a rescue from a burning building, surviving an automobile crash or being victimized by an abuser—a young person can develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Provoked by recurrent vivid memories of the event in disturbing flashbacks, a young person with post-traumatic stress disorder may appear nervous, may be startled easily, or have difficulty sleeping.
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe brain disorder that causes hallucinations, illogical and delusional thinking, and results in social isolation. While rare in early childhood, schizophrenia can emerge during adolescence, perhaps as the result of genetic predisposition. Treatments include psychotherapeutic counseling, training in social skills and antipsychotic medications that reduce incidence of hallucinations. Special education techniques can help children in school.
A child who is traumatized by the absence of his or her parents may be suffering from separation anxiety disorder. A child with this condition may dread being left at a day-care facility or school, thinking that harm may come to the parents or fearing that they will not return. Psychotherapy and medications can help alleviate the disorder.