What is childhood neurosis?

Neurosis is a psychiatric or psychosocial disorder that exhibits a wide range of clinical symptoms and for which no physical cause can be found. Today, doctors rarely use the term for diagnosis, but rather it is a general name for a range of disorders that occur most often as a reaction to severe stress or psychological trauma. Neuroses occur not only in adults, but also in children.

These disorders manifest themselves in very different ways. Some patients have trouble swallowing or have a lumpy feeling in their throat. Others feel sad for no apparent reason or experience uncontrollable panic attacks. 

types of neuroses

The most common forms are:

  • depressive neurosis. In depressive neurosis, children show clear signs of apathy. They do not seek to communicate, more often try to be alone, do not show emotions and are in a bad or depressed mood most of the time. The reasons for depressive neurosis may be different. In the predominant cases, the reason is an unfavorable situation in the family or at school (kindergarten).
  • anxiety neurosis. With this type of neurosis, children may experience a constant feeling of anxiety and fear, for no apparent reason. It occurs most often after experiencing stress or when suffering from nervous and psychological fatigue. It is often accompanied by sleep disorders (insomnia, nightmares), as well as headaches, sweating, eating disorders. 
  • Phobia. A phobia is a special form of an anxiety disorder. A child has a huge fear of something (for example, he or she may be afraid of a spider, school, heights) that is not actually (particularly) dangerous. The source of the fear is often related to an object, activity or situation. In addition, psychological factors such as trauma, bullying, personality traits (e.g., neuroticism), fear of anxiety symptoms, stressful situations (e.g., illness of a parent, conflict between parents, moving) also influence the situation. The most common childhood phobias include fear of dogs and other animals, fear of being left alone, fear of doctors and hospitals, fear of punishment, and fear of school. 
  • obsessive-compulsive neurosis. Obsessive compulsive disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by the presence of obsessive ideas, thoughts or feelings that are difficult to get rid of, and the repeated performance of repetitive ritualistic actions. The child cannot explain why he or she is doing a particular action. Compulsive behavior can include such rituals as repeatedly washing hands or locking doors. It is often accompanied by the presence of neurotic tics such as licking or biting the lips, frequent blinking, shrugging, etc. 
  • hysterical neurosis. This type of neurosis most often occurs in children who are prone to publicity, infantilism, and who like to play in public. Manifestations of hysterical neurosis can include falling on the floor screaming, loud, feigned crying, and wriggling. Children who can already talk may also show symptoms of mutism. Urinary or fecal incontinence may also occur. 
  • hypochondriacal neurosis. The main sign of hypochondria is an excessive attention to one's own health. It most often manifests itself already in adolescence. The child is constantly looking for symptoms of nonexistent illnesses, worries about his or her well-being for no apparent reason. All this is often accompanied by apathy and even depression. 

Depending on the type of neurosis, different symptoms come to the fore. Neurotic people often behave perfectly normally and only show symptoms of the illness in certain situations.

Symptoms

In children and adolescents, the following symptoms occur most frequently:

  • stuttering;
  • urinary incontinence;
  • eating disorder;
  • The habit of biting your nails;
  • tantrums;
  • tearfulness;
  • reduced performance in school;
  • sleep disturbance;
  • frequent headaches;
  • escape attempts; 
  • aggressiveness.

In organ neuroses, such as cardiac neurosis, there may be corresponding physical dysfunction, in which case the heart function is impaired due to massive fears. However, organ neurosis can also impair the function of the stomach, intestines, lungs or joints.

Reasons

The specific cause for which a child may have neurosis is difficult to determine. The etiology of the illness is very multifaceted. Specialists say that of great importance are the child's interpersonal relationships with members of his family, as well as his relationships with teachers and classmates at school. The following provoking factors of neurosis in children are considered to be the most frequent:

  • socio-psychological: Repeated conflicts in the family, difficult relationships with siblings, problems in communication with peers, etc;
  • socio-cultural: Bullying at school, overwork, life in the big city;
  • socio-economic: unsatisfactory living conditions, upbringing in a single-parent family, etc;
  • biological: birth traumas, hereditary diseases, physical health problems, etc;
  • exhaustion of the nervous system: nervous overload, stress, excessive mental and physical exertion, lack of sleep. 

Treatment of neuroses

Once neurosis has been diagnosed, three-way therapy usually follows. This includes psychotherapeutic measures, medication therapy and psychosensory procedures. In the case of a severe course of neurosis, inpatient treatment in special clinics can be useful.

Psychotherapy for neuroses

In psychotherapy, a trained psychotherapist will attempt to uncover the unconscious, repressed or unrecognized deeper causes of the patient's mental problems with neurosis and to address them. If this is successful, the patient can process the stressful experiences under the guidance of a specialist. Talking and music can be used as therapeutic tools. Role-playing or drawing and modeling also help to encourage and support those affected.

For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy is very successful in dealing with anxiety. Here the focus of treatment is on revising and then changing thinking and behavior patterns. The experience gained in this way can cure neuroses such as panic attacks.

Medical therapy

Medications can support the healing process in neuroses. If the underlying problem is not resolved, symptoms usually return after the medication is stopped. Medications used in the treatment of neurosis are mostly tranquilizers and antidepressants.

Psychosensory procedures and physical therapy.

The so-called psychosensory methods are used as the third pillar in the treatment of neuroses. Physiotherapy makes it possible to consolidate the results obtained with psychotherapy, as well as to reduce the number of prescribed medications. The most successful physical therapy methods include physical therapy, water procedures, and relaxing massage.

Prevention of neurosis in children

Neurosis in children is a disease that is reversible. If you identify the problem in time and contact specialists for accurate diagnosis and prescription of therapy, then the chances of recovery are very, very high. 

In order to prevent childhood neuroses, specialists recommend adhering to a clear daily routine, not overloading the child neither physically nor mentally, keeping a balance between his/her physical abilities and workload during the day, and avoiding sleep deprivation. For the full psycho-emotional development of the child, a comfortable atmosphere in the family and the correct distribution of roles in relationships are very important. 

Don't put undue pressure on your children, such as overstating their grades, cleanliness, or threatening punishment. Much more encourage your children to talk about feelings, worries, and grievances. Always be a reliable rear for them, an important person they can trust in any situation. 

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