Childhood Mental Illness – Disorders, Symptoms, and Treatment

Children experience mental health issues similar to adults. But they find it difficult to articulate what’s happening to them and fail to convey their problem. This eliminates their chances of getting appropriate treatment.

On the other hand, most parents also fail to recognize the mental illness in their children. Mental health issues in children occur as delayed development in thinking, behavior, and social skills.

If these issues /conditions are not treated right, it may end up disrupting the kid’s social life in school and at home. It might also get carried over to their adult life and make a negative impact on their career, relationships, and entire life.

If your kid is mentally unstable, please visit a child psychologist and get them treated. Mental illness is more dangerous than any physical ailments. It shooks your child’s whole life and drags in negativity everywhere they go. 

It is quite difficult to identify mental health problems in children since change occurs in every stage of their development. 

For instance, children experience an immense change physically and mentally from childhood to teenage. At this time, it may be common to see your child alone or sad (you may think this is a part of a transition and not know the real reason behind his loneliness). 

All these misconceptions throw a veil on mental illness in children. Adding, symptoms of mental illness also differ from child to child depending on the age. 

The hard to swallow barrier that stops parents from getting their child diagnosed by a child psychologist is the “stigma” associated with mental illness. People think that a child with a mental disorder is retard. He/she might be excluded from all the school activities and subject to bullying. 

Common childhood mental disorders

Doctors specialized in child psychiatry have put together the below mental health or development disorders in children.

  • Anxiety 

Anxiety is one of the common disorders in children. Children with anxiety will be in a constant state of fear, worry, and anxiousness. They will find it hard to participate in any school activities and may seem socially awkward. 

Social anxiety and OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder) are the most usual anxiety disorders diagnosed in children. 

  • Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity disorder

Children with ADHD have a very short attention span. They will be unable to concentrate and stay in a place for a long time. ADHD sufferers are also hyperactive and impulsive all the time.

  • Autism

Autism is a mental disorder commonly found in children below 3 years of age. Children with Autism experience difficulties in communicating and interacting. 

  • Schizophrenia 

Disruptive thoughts lead to schizophrenia. Children with this condition often seem lost in their own world of hallucinations and delusions.

  • Eating disorders

Unsafe dieting and eating habits influenced by weight loss or ideal body type may end in eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, etc. This can result in various emotional and physical hurdles. 

  • Mood swings or disorders

Mood disorders such as depression can sulk the child’s wellbeing and cause a greater disruption to their studies and social life. Other mood disorders like bipolar (extreme mood swings) are very dangerous to the child and calls for immediate psychological attention.

  • PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder

Children who have met with an accident, have suffered abuse, or other traumatic events might be prone to suffer from PTSD, anxiety, nightmares, and depression.

Symptoms of childhood mental illness

If you find any of the below signs in your kid, then immediately consult a child psychologist.

  • Always being alone and avoiding any social activities
  • Talking about self-harming 
  • Extreme emotional swings
  • Sudden personality changes. Becoming more furious, fearful, or sad
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Losing weight drastically
  • A sudden drop in the grades because of non-participation in school
  • Insomnia
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Outburst and severe uncontrollable tantrums

When you recognize at least one of these symptoms make sure to first talk to your child in a friendly manner, next consult a child psychologist. Talk to your child’s class teacher, friends, or other people your child has frequent contact with. Sometimes, it might just be a bad influence. You will never know!

Therefore, make sure to thoroughly clarify his/her behaviors and activities with people who are close to your child.

What should you do as a parent to help your child cope with mental illness?

First, don’t panic. 

Any mental illness is curable with the right treatment.

Consider family counseling and tweak your way of parenting if needed. Learn from your counselor how to respond to the child’s behavior. Spend time with your kid and become more friendly and approachable. Appreciate your child and give them all you can!