mental health conditions affect children?
Children can develop all of the same mental health conditions as adults, but sometimes express them differently. For example,
depressed children will often show more irritability than depressed adults, who more typically show sadness.
Children can experience
a range of mental health conditions, including:
Children who have anxiety disorders — such as obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic
stress disorder, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder — experience anxiety as a persistent problem
that interferes with their daily activities.
Some worry is a normal part of every child's experience, often changing from one developmental stage to the
next. However, when worry or stress make it hard for a child to function normally, an anxiety disorder should
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
This condition typically includes symptoms in three categories:
difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Some children with ADHD have symptoms in
all of these categories, while others may have symptoms in only one.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Autism spectrum disorder is a serious developmental disorder that appears
in early childhood — usually before age 3. Though symptoms and severity vary, ASD always affects a child's
ability to communicate and interact with others.
such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder — are serious, even
life-threatening, conditions. Children can become so preoccupied with food and weight that they focus on little
such as depression and bipolar disorder — can cause a child to feel persistent feelings
of sadness or extreme mood swings much more severe than the normal mood swings common in many people.
This chronic mental illness causes a child to lose touch with reality (psychosis). Schizophrenia
most often appears in the late teens through the 20s.
What are the
warning signs of mental illness in children?
Warning signs that your child might have a mental health condition include:
• Mood changes.
Look for feelings of sadness or withdrawal that last at least two weeks or severe mood
swings that cause problems in relationships at home or school.
• Intense feelings.
Be aware of feelings of overwhelming fear for no reason — sometimes with a racing heart
or fast breathing — or worries or fears intense enough to interfere with daily activities.
• Behavior changes.
These includes drastic changes in behavior or personality, as well as dangerous or
out-of-control behavior. Fighting frequently, using weapons and expressing a desire to badly hurt others also
are warning signs.
• Difficulty concentrating.
Look for signs of trouble focusing or sitting still, both of which might lead
to poor performance in school.
• Unexplained weight loss
A sudden loss of appetite, frequent vomiting or use of laxatives might indicate
an eating disorder.
• Physical symptoms.
Compared with adults, children with a mental health condition may develop headaches
and stomachaches rather than sadness or anxiety.
• Physical harm.
Sometimes a mental health condition leads to self-injury, also called self-harm. This
is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. Children with a mental
health condition also may develop suicidal thoughts or actually attempt suicide.
• Substance abuse.
Some kids use drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their feelings.