Children of all ages, just like adults, can develop mental illness. Oftentimes their severe or unusual moods and reactions are misconstrued as normal sadness or temper tantrums, and that they will just grow out of it.
It can indeed be a challenge to distinguish signs of mental illness in children from normal childhood actions. This is part of the reason why childhood mental illness is underdiagnosed. Another reason is that children do not have the verbal ability or maturity to express themselves accurately, which is why it is up to the parents to pick up on any signs of mental issues so that your child can get the help they need.
Mental illness is a serious matter that can interfere with your child’s mental and emotional development, but it can be addressed with therapy and/or medication. With professional treatment, your child can grow up to be happy, well-adjusted adults and reach their potential.
Symptoms of Mental Illness in Kids
Here you will find some of the main signs of mental illness in children from preschool to the teen years:
Up to age 5, take note if your child displays any of the following behavioral signs:
- Behavioral problems
- Frequently fighting with other kids
- Difficulty communicating and interacting with other children
- Excessive hyperactivity
- Sleep Issues and frequent nightmares
- Excessive worrying or crying
- Persistent disobedience
- Aggression towards others
- Deliberate destruction of property
- Animal abuse
- Frequent temper tantrums
- Separation anxiety for months after starting school
Elementary School Years
Once your child reaches age 5, you can now turn your attention to his or her relationships with others. Look at the quality of friendships that your child has and how he or she is maintaining them. Some of the red-flag signs during these years are:
- Frequent bouts of sadness
- Sudden poor school performance
- No longer enjoying favorite things to do
- Weight loss or fluctuating weight
- Preoccupation with their own weight
- Abnormal changes in sleep patterns and trouble sleeping at night
- Illegal substance use or prescription drug misuse
- Hearing voices
Mental health issues that are not treated early on can develop more apparent symptoms in the teen years, and they can include the following:
- Destructive behavior (vandalism, arson)
- Disrespect for personal or private property
- Withdrawal from social settings
- Losing friends; having poor-quality friendships
- Suicide ideation
- Absence of goals; grim view of the future; persistent negativity
- Extreme mood changes
- Experiencing intense feelings; inability to manage emotions
- Trouble in school (unusually poor grades or misbehavior)
- Frequent illness
- Substance abuse (drugs or alcohol)
- Eating disorders
Please note that it is not uncommon for a child to have more than one mental disorder.
Childhood Mental Illness Treatment in New York
Dr. Raymond Zakhari, NP of Metro Medical Direct will come to your home for a discreet consultation and evaluation of your child’s symptoms. Dr. Zakhari will first develop trust with your child, and that way, your child will trust him to work on therapy and treatment.
At Metro Medical Direct, we treat a broad range of mental illnesses – from anxiety disorders to neurological disorders like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – with a combination of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology.