CHILDREN can also develop a mental disorder like an adult. But most of the time, the symptoms are different. Sometimes people would think that the children are misbehaving but it could be a sign of a mental health condition. There is also stigma attached to mental disorders. Some others find it impossible to think that children may develop a mental health illness.
According to MayoClinic.org., children can experience a range of mental health conditions, including:
Anxiety disorders. Children who have anxiety disorders — like 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 makes it hard for a child to function normally, an anxiety disorder should be considered.
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.
Eating disorders. Eating disorders — like 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 else.
Mood disorders. Mood disorders — like 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.
Schizophrenia. This chronic mental illness causes a child to lose touch with reality (psychosis). Schizophrenia most often appears in the late teens through the 20s.
Mayo Clinic also shared warning signs that a child may have a mental health condition:
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 stomach aches 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, like 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.
If you think that your child may be experiencing these signs, it is important that you bring them to a mental health professional like a psychologist or a psychiatrist. They will recommend treatment for them.
Remember that mental health is as important as physical health. Having a mental health disorder means, the child or an adult has a medical condition that can be treated, cured or managed. It’s ok to ask for help. Visit your doctor now!
Published in the SunStar Bacolod newspaper on November 10, 2017.
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