While some assume that children are immune from the effects of mental illness, in truth, children can be afflicted with these potentially debilitating disorders just as adults can. If your family has a history of mental illness, or your child’s behavior appears to be well outside the norm, you child may be one of the sizable child population inflicted with a mental illness.
Mental illness among children is more common than many parents would initially assume. WebMD reports that 20 percent of all U.S. children will feel the effects of a mental illness in a given year. This staggering statistic indicates that out of a group of five children, one will likely experience some form of mental illness by year’s end.
Common Disorders in Children
While children can experience nearly all of the same mental illnesses as adults, there are some disorders to which children are particularly prone. Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder is the most common mental disorder among children. Child patients can also experience anxiety disorders, mood disorders or behavioral disorders. In young children, elimination disorders, or disorders related to using the bathroom, may wreak havoc on potty training efforts. Even disorders almost always associated with adulthood, such as schizophrenia, can rear their heads during childhood.
Behavioral Disorder Signs
If your child suffers from a mental disorder that impacts his behavior, you will likely notice that his behavior is far different from others his age. Common signs of behavioral mental disorders include a rapid transition from calm to irritable. Additionally, an inability to self-soothe could indicate the presence of a behavior disorder. If you notice that your school-aged child is constantly in trouble due to failure to control his behavior or inattentiveness in class, he may be suffering from a behavioral disorder that makes proper school-place behavior nearly impossible for him.
Indications of Anxiety-Related Issues
Children who suffer from anxiety-related mental disorders often show signs of their internal turmoil. If your child suffers from a disorder of this type, you may notice that he experiences periods of extreme upset. Periods of this type, particularly those with no apparent cause, could indicate the presence of a disorder of this type. Children who fail to form friend or family bonds may also be kept from doing so as a result of an underlying anxiety issue.
Response to Symptoms
While you may suspect that your child has a mental disorder, there is little you can do to help without a diagnosis. If you see signs of a mental disorder in your child, voice your concerns to his pediatrician. This health professional can perform tests to prove or disprove your suspicions. If your child does get diagnosed with a mental illness, educate yourself on his disorder so you can help him deal with the impact that it has on his life.