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Mental Illness In Children – Know The Symptoms & Learn How To Help

Childs Mental HealthMany people are unaware that children can suffer from the same mental health conditions as adults. However, there are a few differences: First, the symptoms of childhood mental illness and adulthood mental illness are different. Second, children are much less likely than adults to receive treatment for the mental problems. This is mainly due to the fact that adults expect children to grow out of their problems.

It’s important for parents and those who work closely with children to be aware of the symptoms of childhood mental illness and know how to help. It can be difficult to identify the problems because the symptoms of childhood mental illness differ from those of adults. For example, children suffering from depression may exhibit irritability and anger, while depressed adults show sadness. 

What Kinds Of Mental Health Conditions Affect Kids?

Children can suffer from a wide array of mental health conditions, including:

  • Anxiety Disorders – Anxiety disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social phobias. Some levels of worry and anxiety are normal, but if it begins to prevent your child from functioning properly, it should be addressed.
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – ADHD is characterized by an inability to pay attention, impulsive behavior, and extreme hyperactivity. This can make it difficult for children to socialize normally and do well in school.
  • Eating Disorders – Eating disorders such as bulimia, binge eating, and anorexia can be life-threatening. Children, especially teens and pre-teens, can become so preoccupied with weight and food that they’re unable to focus on anything else.
  • Autism Spectrum – Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that begins to manifest itself in early childhood. The severity of autism may vary, but it always impacts the way a child is able to interact and communicate with others.
  • Mood Disorders – Mood disorders include bipolar disorder and depression, and can cause your child to feel extreme sadness and mood swings.

Warning Signs Of Mental Illness In Children

  • Changes in sleep patterns – Your child may begin to sleep all the time or suffer bouts of insomnia. Any change in sleep patterns can be an issue.
  • Mood Changes – Watch your child for feelings of sadness or withdrawing from friends and family. This can become serious if it causes problems in relationships with friends or at school.
  • Changes In Behavior – Drastic changes in personality or behavior can point to a problem. For example, if a normally mellow child begins getting into fights, damaging property, or using weapons.
  • Grades Slipping – If your child has a sudden drop in grades or GPA, this can point to a mental health issue or depression.
  • Sudden Changes In Weight – A sudden loss of appetite, rapidly losing weight, using laxatives, and vomiting frequently are the first signs of an eating disorder.
  • Harming Self Or Others – Some mental health disorders include harming oneself, such as cutting or burning the skin. In addition to self-harm, some children threaten to hurt others or have suicidal thoughts.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Mentally Ill

If you have any concerns about your child’s mental health, or if he or she is exhibiting any of the above warning signs, it’s time to talk to other people who interact with your child. Consider talking to your child’s friends, caregivers, teachers, or loved ones to see if they’ve also noticed changes. Share this information with your child’s pediatrician. He or she can refer you to a child therapist or psychiatrist.

To make an appointment to evaluate your child’s dental health or need for orthodontia, please contact Firestone Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics today. Our office is located in Firestone, Colorado.

Posted on May 22, 2017
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