How to Spot Mental Health Problems in Children

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When raising children you will be aware that there are many ‘stages’ to go through. Some of these are quick but painful like the Terrible Twos. And mood swings can last throughout teenage years. However, in some cases a ‘stage’ – especially if it is prolonged much more than you think it should – could be a sign of something much more worrisome.

The main problem is that many people mistake the initial warning signs as typical childhood behaviour, particularly if they are transitioning into a pre-teen or teenager. Understanding that these can be warning signs of a much larger problem, then, is vital. Particularly for more at-risk children.

In which case, look out for some of the following signs in order to ensure that your child is not exhibiting signs of something more serious:

Difficulties at School

One bad grade is not a sign of anything bad. But, prolonged bad grades, behavioural problems and even worse could be a symptom of much more deep-rooted issues. Particularly if they come out of nowhere or your child has previously been a model student. Don’t ignore problems at school as simply the signs of a problem child. Instead, investigate it as much as possible in order to see if it is rooted in a much more serious issue (which could include some of the following issues).

Intense Emotions

Experiencing intense emotions is one of the stages of growing up. However, if they are particularly intense for long periods of time it could lead to great unease or unhappiness in your child. Especially if this includes intense anger issues as they can have an impact on the whole household, not simply the child experiencing them.

Mood disorders are commonly experienced by children with ADHD, major depressive disorder (MDD) and even those with bipolar disorder. So, rather than dismissing it as a regular symptom of growing up, it is always best to consult a professional for a second opinion.

Prolonged Sadness or Withdrawing

A child that spends a lot of time on their own, withdraws from family life or just seems sad for more time than is typical could be a sign of depression. Especially if they spend lots of time in their room sleeping and don’t seem to be taking part in the same kind of bathing that is normally typical for them (not showering can be a sure sign of an issue if it persists over a long period).

Allowing this to go on for too long without intervention could result in much more serious signs of depression. For example, this could result in the child attempting to seriously hurt themselves. Self-harm or even attempting suicide is obviously very harmful to a child and the entire family. Seeking help before this stage is the preferable option.

Difficult Family Circumstances

Sometimes looking outside of the child for potential causes of mental health problems is also necessary. Particularly if they are experiencing something difficult or even traumatising in their home lives. This can be especially the case for children who are in care – who may have even had to transfer fostering agencies – as they may be facing a lot of stress in a new home. For foster carers, working with your agency to ensure all problems are dealt with quickly and smoothly is a vital part of your job.

Concluding Thoughts

Mental illness in children is one of the worst and misdiagnosed issues, so it is important that you take the steps to recognise issues before they become an even bigger problem. Escalating mental health issues in children can lead to problems in adulthood, so it is vital they are discovered early and managed in order to ensure a good quality of life. The faster a diagnosis is made, the better it is for both the child and family at large in the long run.

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