How to Spot the Signs of a Mental Health Issue in Your Child
Mental health conditions can be tricky to spot in children, as they tend to display a wide variety of strong emotions, high-levels of energy, and a short-attention span. While these traits are all-too familiar among children, some of these traits can also be signs and symptoms of a mental health disorder. Parents should be on watch for warning signs of mental health issues because the earlier mental health conditions are diagnosed and addressed, the less influence they will have in the child’s life and life as an adult. Diagnosing a mental health condition during early childhood can get both parents and the child to practice managing the disorder so that the child does not have to rely on addictive, mind altering medications their entire life. In addition, addressing these issues early on can prevent the condition from causing problematic situations where the child may act out, hurt themselves or others, or behave in a manner that causes feelings of embarrassment, confusion, and low self-esteem.
What Mental Health Issues are Commonly Seen in Children?
Children can experience several mental health issues, and because the symptoms of mental health disorders are more difficult to spot in children, they affect the younger population more than we know. Some of the more common mental health issues found in children include the following:
- Depression – Depressed children may exhibit symptoms like persistent sadness and/or irritability, low self-esteem, either a noticeable increase or decrease in appetite, feelings of apathy and loss of interest in activities and hobbies the child used to enjoy, change in sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, headaches, stomach aches and other physical pains that have no cause, lethargy, intense mood swings, frequent anger and rage, and more.
- Bipolar disorder – Bipolar symptoms in children include those of depression as well as abrupt changes in mood and energy levels. Opposite to depressed symptoms will be manic symptoms with extreme periods of hyperactivity, prolonged explosive rages, exaggerated ideas and beliefs about one’s self or abilities, rambling speech and racing thoughts or ideas.
- Anxiety disorders – Symptoms of anxiety disorders in children will include intense nervousness and fear. Avoiding fun activities due to unexplained fears and nervousness, wanting to control or be in the know about all situations and decisions, signs of perfectionism, obsessively asking ‘what if.’
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – This disorder is often misdiagnosed as it shares several symptoms of other mental health issues and its symptoms often mimic normal child-like behavior like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and lack of concentration or sustaining attention. For ADHD these symptoms will noticeably interfere with learning, group play, social situations, and sleep.
- Autism – Autistic disorders are characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors, and there is a wide-range of variation among these symptoms.
The best indicator of a mental health issue in a child is when behavioral symptoms and emotions begin interfering with typical behavior or daily functioning. Lastly, many parents hesitate or refuse the possibility of their child having a mental health issues due to pride or fear. Mental health issues are common, and do not mean something is “wrong” with a child. By denying a child the professional attention and treatment he needs is debilitating to the child’s future since he could learn how to manage the disorder before it interferes with his life.
Concerned Your Child has a Mental Health Condition?
If you are concerned your child may have a mental health condition, you can call our toll-free number for help. Our recovery professionals are on-hand 24 hours a day to assist you with all your questions, concerns, and needs. We can also refer you to the treatment and recovery professionals right for you and your child’s particular needs, if you are ready.