For my third research round, I will be examining the Mental Affects of the Foster Care System On the Children. More specifically, I wanted to investigate ….
- What are the different disorders that may develop through being in the system?
For each disorder I'd like to answer these sub questions:
- What is the disorder?
- How did the children develop it?
- How could the children cope with it? What treatments do they undergo?
What are some mental disorders that children face after being in the foster care system?
Below is a chart explaining different common mental health statistics comparing it to children who were in the foster care system and children who weren't.
% of Foster Care Alumni
% of General Adult Population
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Major Depressive Episode
Modified Social Phobia
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
MENTAL HEALTH DISPARITIES
As you can see, children who were in the foster care system show greater percentages of mental health illnesses due to many reasons that I will discuss later. (1) First, I must explain what each disorder is:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - A mental health condition triggered by traumatic events whether they were witnesses or victims. Most of the time, people go through traumatic events and don't develop the disorder because they take a little while to adjust and cope but afterwards, they return to their daily normal lives. On the other hand, some people develop symptoms that never go away such as flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts about the events that took place which results in them having PTSD. Foster care children frequently develop this disorder because they experience very stressful events like being taken away from their biological parents, don't always know their parent’s previous mental health or it could just be the way they were born. (2) Some ways foster children could cope with PTSD could be talking to a therapist, talking to other children within the home or even keep a journal of how you feel. (3)
Major Depressive Episode - Results when people are overly sad for a long period due to a traumatic event such as a loved one passing away or a life challenge. Normally these feelings disappear after a while; however, if it doesn't then you might have major Depressive Disorder. Some symptoms may include being sad, irritable almost everyday, constantly have difficulties making decisions and even thinking about committing suicide. The children could have received this disorder through alcohol, drug abuse or other medical conditions that may have been developed from a young age through the parent. This disorder is treated with extensive psychotherapy and small lifestyle adjustments; however, sometimes children must be admitted to the hospital in extreme cases. (4)
Modified Social Phobia - When people are afraid to socialize, they avoid all human interaction as possible and any small interaction makes them extremely uncomfortable. Many parts of their life might have major changes such as maintaining friendships because they have Social Phobia disorder (social anxiety disorder). Not only does their social life suffer, people with this order suffer from a rapid heartbeat, lightheadness and muscle tension. (5) Social Phobia could be caused through inheritance (disorders run in the family), your brain structure or the environment you live in. Foster children can be afraid to speak up because they may face consequences so this trait may be common in children with controlling parents. (6) This disorder could be resolved with an intervention by loving family members, an internet-based rehab program that gave support with a psychologist or a group therapy session. Although an intervention may not be possible if the family is a factor in the cause of the disorder, at least group therapy is a great alternative if they recognize they have a problem. (7)
Panic Disorder - It’s quite normal to receive the odd panic attack during a stressful event, but if they become common and unexpected then you may have Panic disorder. Panic attacks (intense rush of fear, discomfort and heart pounding) within the disorder can cause people to become extremely worried or terrified because they fear going crazy, losing control and dying. (8) Causes of panic disorder may be due to major stress, genetics, certain parts if your brain function or a temperament that may be more affected by negative emotions. (9) The disorder isn’t necessarily hereditary considering a study took place where children with parents who had panic attacks did not have a higher rate compared to children with parents without panic attacks (10) Panic attacks can be monitored and regulated with medication and constant treatment; however, you must stick with the treatment plan to fully recover. (9)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)- People who are overly concerned and worried about many different things at once may have Anxiety Disorder. They over obsess over items such as money, health, family, work or any other issues they may face, but they find everything needs to be in their control or else they become overly worried. There are many different types of treatments to help such as supportive, interpersonal therapy or commitment therapy that help the child realize they have a disorder. (11) Like most of the other disorders, GAD can be caused by genetics, brain chemistry and environmental factors like previous trauma. (12)
Alcohol / Drug Dependence - Substance has been becoming more common due to the amount of substances available to many children. Dependence is when people need to have alcohol or drugs almost all the time to function and continue with their normal days; however, it is related to people who suffer from injuries. More specifically athletes have been known to have substance abuse because they are prescribed medication for their injury but after they have healed, they become dependent on the drug. Another major cause of substance dependence may be peer pressure or emotional distress from events. Foster children aren’t always as protected like most children in society which means their environmental surroundings could be another issue. The main road of treatment would most likely be rehab where substances are no longer available, and the child is under constant supervision. (13)
Bulimia - This disorder has been known to be very common in teenage girls but it can happen to both genders because it is the fear of gaining weight. Normally, there is a period where people have overeaten and then completely stop because they become self-conscious, but Bulimia is a very serious mental disorder since it can be life or death. People become very underweight to the point when they are just skin and bones. Bulimia doesn’t have a specific cause because it can happen to anyone for any reason, but it normally has a trigger such as an important date (Grad, Wedding). The best treatment option for this disorder is talking to a therapist and coming up with a meal plan because the most important thing is to gain your weight back. (14)
10. http://web.b.ebscohost.com/eho...=17010561&db=aph(Peer Reviewed)
Thank you for reading my research round! In 2 weeks, my metamorphosis will be posted, and I will be continuing this inquiry question next round so if you have any suggestions they would be greatly appreciated.