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Emotional and Behavior Disorders - EBD

Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD) are typically referred to when a child is experiencing emotional problems having behavioral issues. This article helps define emotional and behavioral disorders and what they include such as pica, ODD, ADHD, eating disorders and more.

Introduction Emotional and Behavior Disorders—EBD

Emotional and Behavior Disorders, is also referred to as Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Behavioral and Emotional Disorders, Mental and Behavioral Disorders, and Emotional Behavioral Disability, also abbreviated EBD. These terms are most often used in education and in reference to children. It is a category that is not precisely defined and about which specialists disagree. In the criteria for special education for children and youths aged 3 to 9, "emotional disturbance" is one of the eligible disabilities.

There is no heading "Emotional and Behavior Disorders" in the DSM-IVR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition Revised), but there are a number of diagnoses in each that may often be considered to fit the Emotional and Behavior Disorders category. The International Classification of Diseases (currently ICD-10), on the other hand, has a section (F90-F98) called "Behavioural and emotional disorders with onset usually occurring in childhood and adolescence."  

To gain a greater appreciation of what the term means, we'll now look at both of the two manual of mental health disorders to see what specific diagnoses they characterize as Emotional and Behavior Disorders.

EBD and the ICD

Section F90–F98 of the ICD-10, which has the title mentioned above tying it to our topic,  contains seven categories of disorders. Here they are, with clarifying examples of the subtopics:

  • Hyperkinetic disorders, including Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Conduct disorders, including those confined to the family, those not so confined, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Mixed disorders of conduct and emotions, including Depressive Conduct Disorder
  • Emotional disorders with onset specific to childhood, including separation anxiety disorder, sibling rivalry disorder, and social anxiety disorder
  • Disorders of social functioning with onset specific to childhood and adolescence, including elective or selective mutism
  • Tic disorders, including Tourette's Disorder
  • Other behavioral and emotional disorders with onset usually occurring in childhood and adolescence, including stuttering, pica, cluttering, thumb-sucking, and Attention Deficit Disorder without hyperactivity (ADD).

EBD and the DSM-IVR

The DSM-IVR has a different organizational system for the most closely corresponding section, which it calls "Disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence." First, it includes learning disabilities that are clearly not emotional or behavioral disorders or disabilities, like autism and mental retardation. In addition, EBD disorders are not sorted out from other disabilities and placed in separate categories, as you will see in this summary of the seven categories that contain EBD disorders:

  • Communication disorders including not only stuttering, but also expressive language disorder (which the ICD categorizes as a disorder of psychological development)
  • Attention-deficit and disruptive behavior disorders, including ADHD, Conduct Disorder, and    Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Feeding and eating disorders of infancy or early childhood, including pica
  • Tic disorders, including Tourette's Disorder
  • Elimination disorders
  • Other disorders of infancy, childhood, or adolescence, including separation anxiety disorder and selective mutism

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