Children are as prone to mental health issues as other age groups. According to the UK Mental Health Foundation, 10% of children are affected by some form of mental illness or another. This can greatly affect their development and they may be at risk for further challenges as they grow up.
Several types of mental disorders can afflict children, and the daunting news is that younger and younger people are being diagnosed. With this, it is very important to detect symptoms of mental health issues in children as soon as possible and to get them treated immediately.
Top Mental Disorders of Children
Listed below are some of the most common mental disorders that affect children all over the world.
Anxiety manifests in many forms, and children are highly susceptible to it. Anxiety can be triggered when separated from parents or guardians. Being with other children can also trigger anxiety.
Other forms of anxiety, such as General Anxiety Disorder or GAD, manifest in the form of extreme feelings of worry on things such as grades, relationships, or being compared against others. This can often lead into feelings of depression and can eventually children to shut others out.
Depression is also fairly common among children, with around 7.1% of children being diagnosed with the condition in the U.S., according to the CDC. Depression can be triggered by external stimuli such as problems at home or bullying, although it can be inherited as well.
Depression can be characterized by long bouts of loneliness, a decreased feeling of self-worth, and drastic changes in behaviour that can last for days or weeks. In extreme cases, self-harm or thoughts of suicide can manifest.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Oppositional defiant disorder or ODD is characterized by hostile, defiant, or violent behaviour. This can begin during childhood and this type of behaviour can exist even beyond teenage years. This type of behaviour can be directed not only towards fellow children but adults as well.
ODD is also often considered to be a part of conduct disorder or ADHD. However, Oppositional Defiant Disorder is much more known for the prevalence of what is socially accepted as negative behaviour. Male children are slightly at a higher risk of ODD than females.
ADHD is common among children, although they show up among the adult population as well. According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, over 6 million U.S. children are affected by this condition. Like ODD, ADHD is more common to boys rather than girls.
Children with ADHD typically have trouble focusing on tasks at hand, which makes learning much more difficult. They are also more prone to accidents. Research has also shown that raising a child with ADHD is much more expensive, and dropout rates are much higher.
Tourette syndrome typically manifests at around seven years of age, and the disorder is characterized by uncontrolled tics that may be vocal in nature or can manifest as shrugs, eye blinks, or other forms of constant movement. These are often triggered under periods of emotional stress.
Tourette syndrome can cause depression due to feelings of low self-esteem. Lack of concentration can also result from this condition as a focus is being centred upon controlling these tics and mannerisms. A lack of focus can also be a risk factor for accidents to occur.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD, is a type of anxiety disorder that affects 1 to 2 percent of children. This condition typically manifests at a young age, and the exact cause for it is unknown. However, research has shown that there are links between both psychological trauma and the shortage of serotonin in the brain and OCD.
The usual symptoms of OCD include a compulsive desire to maintain cleanliness and order. They may also have an adverse fear of dirt and being touched. Those with OCD can function relatively normally, but this condition can affect social relationships as well as productivity due to focus on cleanliness and order.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Those who have suffered trauma during childhood are in danger of PTSD. While trauma can be experienced by a majority of children, girls are more susceptible to PTSD. This can manifest throughout adolescence and all through their adult years if left untreated.
Those who suffer from PTSD can pose dangers to themselves as well as to others. Disruptive or violent behaviour can often be seen among sufferers, and they are also at high risk of getting afflicted with other disorders such as depression, phobias, or schizophrenia. Oftentimes, anxiety can be triggered when exposed to situations related to the traumatic event.
Signs of Mental Health Issues
Any changes in a child’s emotions or behaviour must be taken seriously. These can be symptoms of mental disorders and must not be taken lightly. As such, do not disregard these circumstances as simply calls for attention or acting out. Listed below are the common signs of mental health issues among children.
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Lack of empathy
- Bursts of hostility or violence
- Frequent complains of headaches or stomach pain
- A decline in school performance
- Sudden bursts of emotion
If your child manifests any of the symptoms mentioned above, then it would be best to seek professional help in order to see if these are signs of mental disorder that should be treated immediately.
Mental disorders among children are very serious matters. These conditions can have a drastic effect on the growth of a child. However, having any of these conditions is not a reason to discriminate. More than usual, having a strong support group on top of treatment is essential to cure these disorders.
Parents should know not to disregard any changes in their child, no matter how minor or obscure. Mental disorders can be a bit difficult to diagnose, but being sure by consulting a doctor is definitely a win-win situation.
You can help your child beat mental disorders by closely monitoring your child and making sure that they grow up in a healthy, loving, and supportive environment.