Tag Archives: memory

Sleep Disorders in Childhood

There are a number of theories regarding the purpose of sleep.  “Sleep may provide a period of restoration in which deficits in somatic and central nervous system tissues are repaired.”  (Netherton, Holmes, & Walker, 1999, p. 415)  What I question is… wouldn’t we be able to detect that process (cellular creation/division)?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

It has been suggested that sleep facilitates information processing and memory consolidation.  This, too, seems plausible given the effects of sleep deprivation.  “Fatigue, excessive sleepiness, decreased attention, decline in perceptual, cognitive, and psychomotor capabilities and performance, regressive behavior, and disoriented though may result from prolonged sleep deprivation.  (Netherton et al., 1999, p. 415)

The “cycle of sleep” is a concept I found helpful to be able to conceptualize the process that takes place during sleep.

“While psychopathology is often comorbid with sleep disorders in adults, it is rarely so in children.”  (Netherton et al., 1999, p. 420)  NHW throws this out as a fact, but they don’t really give a reason why that is the case?

With regard to assessment, I very much approve of the use of sleep diaries as an effective way to document the course of events in a sleep-wake cycle.  We currently employ this tool with a couple clients of mine with a great deal of success.  One individual, in particular, had to take “the long way around” (which was particularly hard for the night staff I might add) but eventually we got them on a schedule that was amiable for all.

“Treatment of sleep disorders is designed to address both the symptoms and the causal factors of the disturbance; therefore, it is essential to cast a broad net in assessment to identify the likely etiology of a sleep disruption.”  (Netherton et al., 1999, p. 420)  I’m not sure it can be said better than that, great piece of writing in my opinion.

With insomnia, you sleep too little… with hypersomnia, you sleep too much.  Just FYI.

With regard to treatment, it would appear that the first and most important step is to regulate sleep hygiene.  This means we set and enforce a bedtime routine, and we foster the development of an environment that is conducive to sleep.  Eating and drinking (especially liquids that contain caffeine) should be limited close to bedtime.  (Netherton et al., 1999, p. 428)  We should assess all medications and determine if any possess stimulant qualities.  A “bedtime ritual” should be established and adhered to, including grooming and personal hygiene, flossing and brushing teeth, and using the bathroom.  Although this may be the case for some people, I personally disagree with the concept that bathing is a stimulant.  Personally, I have difficulty sleeping if I don’t bathe at night… it’s relaxing.  Matter of fact, sitting in the hot tub on a cold winter night is the sure fire way to make sure I get a great night of sleep.

I was also particularly interested in the relaxation training suggestion.  One method in particular that I was taught as a child, and that I endorse, is conceptualizing first that your lower extremities (starting with your feet) are “falling asleep.”  I progressively work my way “up” until I reach my head.  Usually, but the time I get to my arms, I am out like a light.  Mileage may vary, but it is one relaxation technique that worked for me as a kid.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


Netherton, S. D., Holmes, D., & Walker, C. E. (1999). Child and adolescent psychological disorders: A comprehensive textbook. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.

Sleep/Wake Disorders

Historically, sleep disorders have long been commonly recognized within the context of other psychopathological conditions, but they have been frequently minimized or otherwise ignored as distinct entities or stand-alone psychopathological situations.  Research supporting the current DSM-IV-TR classification system is extremely limited, despite the common sense approach (in my opinion) of grouping sleep disorders primarily on the basis of underlying constellation of symptoms.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Primary insomnia is the hallmark diagnosis in this category.  It is “characterized by chronic difficulty initiating and/or maintaining sleep or persistent poor-quality sleep.”  (Blaney & Millon, 2009, p. 508)  Individually commonly suffer from mild anxiety, mood disturbances, concentration/memory dysfunction, somatic concerns, and general malaise… but these conditions are generally viewed as symptoms rather than causes.  Insomnia prevalence increases with age, in contrast with sleep onset difficulties are more common in young adults.  It has also been suggested that, generally speak, women are more susceptible than men.  Societal prevalence is between 1% and 2%.  (Blaney & Millon, 2009, p. 508)

I was intrigued by the statement that “the majority of insomnia sufferers tend to overestimate the time it takes them to fall asleep and to underestimate the time they actually sleep to some degree.”  (Blaney & Millon, 2009, p. 510)  This might give some basis to a cognitive-behavioral approach if we can reset those expectations.  A stated by the text, the main problem is that most clinicians don’t have access to the raw data to confirm or refute this subjective complaint.  My question… is it out of the realm of possibility for us to send a client home with a measurement device so we can accumulate that data?

Narcolepsy is characterized by recurrent, irresistible day time sleep episodes.  The “classic tetrad” indicative of narcolepsy includes excessive daytime sleepiness and unintended sleep episodes during situations where most persons could stay awake, abrupt and reversible decrease or loss of muscle tome (without loss of consciousness, also known as cataplexy), and/or awakening from nocturnal or diurnal sleep with an inability to move (sleep paralysis), and finally vivid images and dreams that are evoked just as sleep develops (hypnagogic hallucinations).  (Blaney & Millon, 2009, p. 510)  Narcolepsy generally first appears during adolescence or young adulthood, and is believed to be genetically predisposed.   Life events may precipitate the onsite of this disorder… although it is not clear to me whether they are causes or effects?

Breathing related sleep disorders encompass what is widely known as sleep apnea.  This condition manifests as loud snorting, pauses in breathing, gasping for breath during sleep, headaches on wake, and automatic behaviors during wakefulness or excessive daytime sleepiness.  The headaches on waking part turned my head because I get that all the time… although I haven’t really noticed any other signs or symptoms.  Odd…

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders (CRSDs) represent a mismatch between natural sleep/wake rhythms and the schedule imposed by occupational or social demands.  (Blaney & Millon, 2009, p. 512)  Individuals typically report insomnia at certain times of the day (generally when they want to be sleeping) and excessive sleepiness at other times (generally when they should be awake).

Parasomnias encompass nightmares, night terrors, and sleepwalking.  Nightmare disorder is characterized by repeated awakenings by disturbing dreams.  Sleepwalking and Night Terrors both occur early in the sleep period and appear to represent incomplete arousals from the deepest states of sleep (states 3-4), known as slow wave sleep (SWS).  All of the above are more prevalent in children when compared with adults, and more common in males than in females. (I honestly would have expected it to be more common in females?)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


Blaney, P. H., & Millon, T. (2009). Oxford textbook of psychopathology (2nd ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Paranoid Schizophrenia vs Delusional Disorder

Analysis of the common psychopathological features in the various psychotic disorders suggest that symptoms can be clustered into five main categories: (Os & Kapur, 2009, p. 635)

1)      Psychosis, encompassing positive symptoms of delusions and hallucinations.

2)      Alterations in drive and volition, encompassing negative symptoms including lack of motivation, reduction in spontaneous speech, and social withdrawal.

3)      Alterations in neurocognition, encompassing cognitive symptoms including difficulties in memory, attention, and executive functioning.

4)      Affective dysregulation giving rise to depressive symptoms or 5) manic (bipolar) symptoms.

The term schizophrenia is typically applied to a syndrome that is characterized by a long duration, bizarre delusions, negative symptoms, and few affective symptoms (non-affective psychosis).  (Os & Kapur, 2009)  Formerly called dementia praecox, some of its associated features include inappropriate affect, anhedonia, dysphoric mood, lack of insight, depersonalization, and delrealization.  (Colman, 2009, p. 674)  Schizophrenia affects approximately 0.7% of the world’s population, with prevalence greater in men throughout adulthood, but equal by the end of the risk period.  Schizophrenia is highly heritable, with onset being rare before adolescence or after middle age (although men become ill earlier in life than women).  (MacDonald & Schulz, 2009, p. 495)  Schizophrenia subtypes include paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, and residual types.  This article will focus on paranoid schizophrenia, which tends to be the least severe subtype of schizophrenia.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

“The essential feature of the Paranoid Type of Schizophrenia is the presence of prominent delusions or auditory hallucinations” where no disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behaviors, or flat or inappropriate affect is present.  (American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 2000, p. 313)  Differential diagnosis is an exclusionary process since of all the other subtypes must be eliminated before diagnosing the paranoid subtype.  Paranoid schizophrenia sufferers typically have delusions that are persecutory and/or grandiose; they also typically have a recurrent theme.  Hallucinations are usually related to the same content theme as the delusions, and may include the associate features of anxiety, anger, aloofness, and/or argumentativeness.  Onset tends to be later in life when compared with other subtypes of schizophrenia, and the distinguishing characteristics are often more stable over time.  The prognosis is considerably better when compared with other schizophrenia subtypes, especially regarding occupational functioning and independent living.  (4th ed., text rev.; DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 314)

“The essential feature of Delusional Disorder is the presence of one or more non-bizarre delusions that persist for at least 1 month.”  (4th ed., text rev.; DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 323)  Bizarreness is mostly subjective since it is contingent on socio-cultural norms and expectations.  Bizarre delusions (as in schizophrenia) are “clearly implausible, not understandable, and not derived from ordinary life experiences.”  (4th ed., text rev.; DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 324)  In contrast, non-bizarre delusions (as in delusional disorder) involve situations that could conceivably happen in real life… like being followed, poisoned, etc.  Subtypes of delusional disorder are categorized based on the content of the delusions or the theme thereof.  They include erotomanic, grandiose, jealous, persecutory, somatic, mixed, and unspecified types.  This essay will focus on persecutory delusions, although persecutory delusions often coexist with and are comorbid with other delusion types (particularly grandiose, in mixed presentation).

A determination of persecutory delusions is complicated by the fact that the incidence of persecutory thoughts is relatively common among the general population.  (Brown, 2008, p. 165)  “The criteria used to distinguish between these different categories of psychotic disorder are based on duration, dysfunction, associated substance use, bizarreness of delusions, and presence of depression or mania.”  (Os & Kapur, 2009, p. 635)  In delusional disorders, distortions of reality coexist with realms of rational, realistic thinking.  (Blaney & Millon, 2009, p. 361)  Delusional disorders are distinguished from schizophrenia by the absence of active phase symptoms of schizophrenia (e.g. prominent auditory or visual hallucinations, bizarre delusions, disorganized speech, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior, and/or negative symptoms).  “Compared with schizophrenia, delusional disorder usually produces less impairment in occupational and social functioning.”  (4th ed., text rev.; DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 327)

“The assessment of bizarreness is generally absent among lists of delusion dimensions, notwithstanding its key role in the distinction between DD and PS.”  (Blaney & Millon, 2009, p. 365)  To improve decision-making and reduce the chance of misdiagnosis, Brown (2008) suggests we ascertain, to the extent available, base rates of the specific persecutory beliefs (e.g. discrimination and harassment, mental illness stigma, criminal victimization, relationship infidelities, conspiracies, stalking, surveillance, poisoning, etc) in our area.  Secondly, he suggests we consider alternative hypotheses, especially in decisions that have a very low base rate.  While actively searching for disconfirming information, we should postpone decisions until further information is collected.  I agree with his suggestion that we should rely more on information, and less on intuition, when it comes to confirming or disconfirming persecutory beliefs.  (Brown, 2008, p. 172)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.

Blaney, P. H., & Millon, T. (2009). Oxford textbook of psychopathology (2nd ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Brown, S. A. (2008). The reality of persecutory beliefs: Base rate information for clinicians. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 10(3), 163-179. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.bellevue.edu:80/login?url=http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.bellevue.edu/pqdweb?did=1646112241&sid=7&Fmt=3&clientId=4683&RQT=309&VName=PQD

Colman, A. M. (2009). Oxford dictionary of psychology (3rd ed.). Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.

MacDonald, A. W., & Schulz, S. C. (2009, May ). What we know: Findings that every theory of schizophrenia should explain. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 35(3), 493-508. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbp017

Os, J. V., & Kapur, S. (2009, Aug 22-Aug 28). Schizophrenia. The Lancet, 374(9690), 635-645. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.bellevue.edu:80/login?url=http://proquest.umi.com.ezproxy.bellevue.edu/pqdweb?did=1843730411&sid=4&Fmt=3&clientId=4683&RQT=309&VName=PQD