There are many terms used to describe emotional, behavioral or mental disorders. Currently, children diagnosed with such disorders are categorized as having a serious emotional disturbance, which can be characterized by: an inability to learn; an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships; inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

The causes of emotional disturbance have not been adequately determined. Although various factors such as heredity, brain disorder, diet, stress, and family functioning have been suggested as possible causes, research has not shown any of these factors to be the direct cause of behavior problems. Some of the characteristics and behaviors seen in children who have emotional disturbances include: Hyperactivity; Aggression/self-injurious behavior; Withdrawal; Immaturity; and Learning difficulties.

Children with the most serious emotional disturbances may exhibit distorted thinking, excessive anxiety, bizarre motor acts, and mood swings and are sometimes identified as children who have a severe psychosis or schizophrenia.

Many children who do not have emotional disturbances may display some of these same behaviors at various times during their development. However, when children have serious emotional disturbances, these behaviors continue over long periods of time. Their behavior thus signals that they are not coping with their environment or peers. is committed to providing our visitors and subscribers with access to accurate and timely information on a broad range of topics relative to emotional and behavior concerns. If you have any special requests or would like to see a specific topic covered in this informational section, please e-mail us at

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