The following are some of the warning signs that a child may be struggling with mental illness.
A child is troubled by feeling:
- Really sad and hopeless without good reason, and the feelings don’t go away.
- Very angry most of the time, cries a lot, or overreacts to things.
- Worthless or guilty a lot.
- Anxious or worried a lot more than other young people.
- Grief for a prolonged time after a loss or death.
- Extremely fearful or has unexplained fears or more fears than most children.
- Constantly concerned about physical problems or appearance.
- Frightened that his or her mind is controlled or is out of control.
Experiences big changes, such as:
- Doing much worse in school.
- Losing interest in things he/she usually enjoyed.
- Unexplained changes in sleeping or eating habits.
- Avoiding friends or family and wanting to be alone all the time.
- Daydreaming too much and unable to get things done.
- Feeling that life is too hard to handle or talking about suicide
- Hearing voices that cannot be explained.
Is limited by:
- Poor concentration and can’t make decisions.
- Inability to sit still or focus attention.
- Worry about being harmed, hurting others, or about doing something “bad.”
- The need to wash, clean things, or perform certain routines dozens of times a day.
- Thoughts that race almost too fast to follow.
- Persistent nightmares.
Behaves in ways that cause problems, including:
- Use of alcohol or drugs.
- Eating large amounts of food and then forcing vomiting, abusing laxatives, or taking enemas to avoid weight gain.
- Continuing to diet or exercise obsessively although bone-thin.
- Often hurting other people, destroying property, or breaking the law.
- Doing things that can be life threatening.
- Unexplained cuts and burns.
- Extreme moods.
Should I seek treatment?
If a child is experiencing any of the above warning signs, it's important to get help as soon as possible. A primary care doctor can help guide you in the proper direction by referring you to health care professionals who specialize in child and adolescent behavioral issues. The counselor at your child’s school may be another good source of information. Help is available, so don’t let anything stand in the way of a child’s healthy future.