• Depression:
    Depression can be characterized by depressed mood, tearfulness, irritability, lack of interest in activities, lack of energy, change in sleeping or eating, lack of concentration, restlessness, hopelessness and negative thoughts about oneself, the world and the future.  Depressive symptoms can manifest in the academic environment in the following ways:
    • A decline in grades
    • A lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
    • Isolation from others
    • Morbid poems, drawings, graffiti
    • Increased conflict with others
    • Apathy about the future
    • A decline in grooming habits
    • Difficulty concentrating
    Depression can be hereditary or it can stem from situational stress. Having a parent, grandparent, aunt or sibling with the disorder can increase the likelihood that there is a predisposition for the disorder. Typically, environmental stress will precipitate the emergence of symptoms. Situational stressors include the external events that can lead to the onset of symptoms (such as the death of a loved one). Treatment for depression is very effective.Therapy, or a combination of therapy and medication, are the most common treatment modalities.
    Bipolar Disorder:
    Bipolar disorder is also referred to as manic depression.! In addition to the depressive symptoms noted above, an individual with bipolar disorder will cycle through periods of mania. Manic symptoms can include rapid speech, inflated self-esteem,irritable mood, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, rapid transition from one topic to another, increased risk-taking behaviors, restlessness and a tendency towards excessive sexual acting out, spending money, and/or substance abuse.
    Bipolar Symptoms can manifest in the academic environment in the following ways:
    • Undertaking excessive responsibilities
    • Work production increasing
    • Euphoric, flighty mood
    • Irritable mood swings
    • Excessive energy and restlessness
    • Reckless driving
    • Inflated self-image
    Bipolar disorder is best managed with therapy and ongoing psychiatric care. Various medication trials are common. Medication compliance is often guarded as blood levels need to be drawn periodically to ensure therapeutic effectiveness.A genetic component contributes to the manifestation of the disorder. Many times there is a hereditary thread in the family masked by substance abuse and criminal activity (and a lack of psychiatric intervention).
    Anxiety Disorders:
    Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent of the psychiatric conditions effecting youth today. The primary anxiety disorders  include: Separation Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The symptoms of anxiety can include persistent and excessive worry "that something is going to happen", ruminating thoughts, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, pounding heart, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain and sleep disturbance. Fear and anxiety come from different parts of the brain. Fear/panic causes a sympathetic surge and the "fight or flight" response, whereas anxiety is future oriented (something bad is going to happen) and the sympathetic nervous system is restricted and causes tension.
    Heredity is a major contributing factor as well as overprotective parenting. However, one's thoughts  will perpetuate the disorder. Typically there is a catastrophic misinterpretation of a situation and these dysfunctional thoughts lead to a physiological reaction which in turn leads to avoidant behavior. The most important fact to remember about anxiety, is that avoiding situations that lead to anxiety, will only serve to reinforce this nonfunctional coping style.  It is crucial to learn how to manage anxiety, rather than avoid it.
    Separation Anxiety Disorder is best characterized as recurrent distress surrounding separation or anticipated separation from the primary attachment figure. At approximately age 6, a child's "separation anxiety" tends to diminish. Symptoms of separation anxiety can include:avoiding activities when parents aren't present (such as school), persistent thoughts about losing one's parents through some catastrophe, clingy behavior, feigning illness to stay home from school, or refusal to sleep in own bedroom.
    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder includes symptoms of persistent and recurrent thoughts combined with impulses to engage in certain rituals in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms. Symptoms can include excessive washing (a ritual used to combat persistent! thoughts of contracting germs), a recurring desire to order, arrange or check things, and persistent disturbing thoughts that revolve around a particular theme.  The obsessive thoughts are experienced as unreasonable, meaningless and excessive. The compulsive acts are the ritualistic behaviors performed to alleviate the anxiety.
    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the result of a catastrophic life experience (such as a war or child abuse) that leaves one with recurrent thoughts,nightmares, flashbacks and exaggerated startle responses. Approximately 30% of individuals subjected to horrific life events develop PTSD. This is due in part to the perception of the event (whether or not one perceived it as horrific, or experienced intense fear) and the coping resources available and utilized after the trauma.