Children and Mental Health: How to Recognize a Problem
- Category: Mental Health
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While we often think of children as carefree and lighthearted, they can suffer from mental health issues the same as teens and adults. According to the CDC, one in five children deal with a mental health disorder in any given year.
While troublesome child behaviors and emotions are common and not necessarily indicative of illness – children often become irrational, sad, irritable, or aggressive or find it difficult to sit still or interact appropriately with others – these behaviors can sometimes suggest a mental health problem in your child.
Examples of common behavioral and mental health issues that children face include:
- Anxiety disorder: In children, anxiety often manifests as persistent fears, irrational worries, or anxiety that prevent them from healthily functioning at school, in play, or other social situations.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Children with ADHD have greater difficulty than their peers do paying attention, controlling impulses, or sitting still.
- Autism spectrum disorder: Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological condition that appears in early childhood with varying degrees of severity and symptoms. Children with autism often have trouble communicating effectively and interacting appropriately with others.
- Depression disorder: Children with depression may experience persistent feelings of sadness that interfere with school or socializing.
- Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder often manifests as extreme mood swings between the lows of depression and extreme emotional or behavioral highs and impulsive, risky behavior.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD causes emotional distress, anxiety, nightmares, and disruptive behaviors as a result of a child experiencing or witnessing violence, abuse, or other traumatic events.
If your child is dealing with a mental health issue, treatment can help. Delaying treatment can have a negative effect on a child’s development and cause them to have continuing and possibly exacerbated issues in adulthood.
When to Seek Help
Determining the difference between normal but challenging behavior and emotions in your child and those that are more concerning can be difficult. If your child’s behavior is growing worse and/or persists for more than several weeks, interferes with schoolwork or their ability to function, or is reckless or unsafe, it’s important to seek the help of a mental health professional.
Young children may benefit from a mental health evaluation and treatment if they:
- Often talk about fears, anxieties, or worries
- Experience drastic changes in mood, behavior, or personality
- Talk about wanting to hurt others or themselves
- Have frequent tantrums or are irritable more often than not
- Have difficulty staying still, paying attention, or keeping quiet
- Sleep excessively or too little
- Have frequent nightmares or night terrors
- Lose interest in playing or activities they once enjoyed
- Have trouble at school or experience a sharp decline in grades
- Refuse to go to school
- Have low energy
If you are concerned that your child is living with a mental health issue, we can help. At our LiveWell Counseling center, we provide children with gentle and caring mental health treatment in a comforting setting. Our staff psychiatrist can conduct a thorough mental health evaluation to determine whether your child would benefit from further mental health treatment, such as medication to ease symptoms or one-on-one counseling with our highly trained and attentive therapists.
Please call our Admissions office at (201) 848-5800 to learn more or to schedule an appointment.