Common disorders and how to spot them

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A learning and behavioural disorder. Children with ADHD talk excessively, do not listen to what is being said, and often make mistakes in their school work, among other things.

A quarter of the 3,366 new patients at the Institute of Mental Health's (IMH's) Child Guidance Clinic were treated for the condition last year.

Developmental disorders, such as autism and dyslexia, occur when a child does not acquire the normal developmental skills expected for their age. This affects their ability to learn, behave and socialise. About a third of young patients at the clinic have such problems.

Autism: A disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate and to socialise with others.

Dyslexia: A neurological disorder which causes sufferers to have difficulties in reading, writing and spelling.

Emotional disorders are a group of disorders characterised by incapacitating fears and worries, such as depression and anxiety disorders. About a third of the clinic's patients suffer from such disorders.

Depression: A disorder characterised by pervasive feelings of sadness, loss of interest in most activities, and suicidal thoughts in some cases.

It is different from normal sadness in that the sadness is more severe and the symptoms persist even if circumstances improve.

Anxiety disorders: Characterised by excessive worry or fear. For example, children may refuse to go to school and worry frequently about things before they happen.

These conditions can be treated by a variety or combination of methods, such as medication, counselling and therapy, depending on the individual.

Helpline: You can call IMH on 6389-2000 for general enquiries.


This article was first published in The Straits Times.