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Teens with conduct disorder show disrupted connectivity between specific brain areas, finds study

May 3, 2018 0 Comments

Teens with conduct disorder show disrupted connectivity between specific brain areas

Thousands of teenagers in the U.S. exhibit behavioral tendencies that can be described as far from social norms. Their inability to control and regulate emotional outbursts makes them vulnerable to common mental disorders like anxiety or depression. Now, a recent study, published online in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience in April 2018, carried out a detailed examination regarding the wiring of the brain in teens afflicted with the conduct disorder. In addition, the researchers assessed the connection between the seriousness of the disorder and psychopathic traits – a specific term used to explain deficiencies in feelings of guilt, reproach and empathy.

With the help of functional MRI scans of adolescents afflicted with conduct disorder and typically developing young people, the researchers assessed the amygdala portion of the brain involved in understanding others’ emotional behavior and the manner in which it makes a contact with other parts of the brain. The aim of the study was to further the findings of a previous research that highlighted how teenagers affected by conduct disorder find it difficult to differentiate between sad and angry facial expressions. The researchers wanted to find out the reason behind the same at the physiological level.

The authors observed that teenagers with conduct disorder showed remarkably lower amygdala responses to sad and angry faces. Considering the similarities in traits between conduct disorder patients and people with damaged amygdala, the researchers had previously assumed that the condition of their amygdala had deteriorated. As opposed to prior thinking, patients of conduct disorder and those with high levels of psychopathic traits exhibited normal connectivity levels between the amygdala region and the prefrontal cortex, while those afflicted with conduct disorder alone showed disrupted connectivity between these brain areas.

Finding better interventions for people seeking treatment for CS

Elucidating the findings, co-author of the study Dr. Graeme Fairchild from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, the U.K., said, “This study shows that there may be important differences between youths with high and low levels of psychopathic traits in the way the brain is wired. The findings could have clinical implications, because they suggest that psychological treatments that enhance emotion regulation abilities are likely to be more effective in the youths with Conduct Disorder alone, than in the psychopathic subgroup.”

Dysregulation of the various emotional parts of the brain in young people with conduct disorder may lead to co-occurring mental conditions like depression or anxiety, the study said. Though there is much more that needs to be looked into, the researchers hoped that the results will help in finding better interventions for people seeking treatment for their conduct disorder problems and other similar emotional illnesses.

Helping teenagers tackle their emotional issues

Though emotional disorders like depression are common among teenagers, they are usually ignored as most guardians misattribute their children’s behavior to hormonal changes during adolescence. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in 2015, about 3 million adolescents (12.5 percent of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17), had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

Specialists involved in teens mood disorder treatment mostly recommend therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy to improve their symptoms. So, it is imperative to seek professional help for a mental condition. White River Academy, a reputed therapeutic boarding school in the U.S., helps male adolescents recover from psychiatric ailments like depression and anxiety. For more information about mood disorder treatment for teens, call our 24/7 helpline or chat with our online counselor.

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