Understanding Mental Illness in Children

Psychologists located in Montreal’s West Island and in other parts of Canada have dealt with numerous young patients. The fact is, mental disorders in children have become more common nowadays.

There are different kinds of mental disorders that affect kids, but the most common involve emotional and behavioral disorders.  It is important to address these problems because children are constantly growing and changing, especially in their formative years.

What are the symptoms and signs of mental illness in children?

Signs and symptoms of a mental illness may vary depending on the specific disorder, but a child often exhibit the following:

  • Physical pain such as headaches and stomachache
  • Changes in sleeping patterns, such as sleeping too much or too little, as well as the occurence of nightmares and sleepwalking
  • Poor school performance
  • Persistent boredom
  • Regressing behavior such as bedwetting, frequent tantrums, or becoming too clingy
  • Becoming a risk taker or conversely, showing less concern for their own safety, such as running into the street or getting involved in physical altercations

Common Behavioral and Emotional Disorders

  • Anxiety

It is natural for children to be worried and anxious at times but when their worries get in the way of their daily activities then it becomes a disorder. It can be Generalized Anxiety Disorder, where a child may worry excessively about everything and may always imagine the worst things that can happen.

There is also Panic Disorder where a child may experience sudden episodes of anxiety for no apparent reason. A child experiencing a panic attack may feel his heart pound, have shortness of breath, dizziness, and numbness.

Another type is the Separation Anxiety Disorder. Actually, separation anxiety is a normal phase in the development of a child. However, if the child gets unusually upset and has trouble calming down when someone close to them has to leave, the separation anxiety becomes a disorder.

  • Autism

Autism, also called autism spectrum disorder, is a neurobehavioral condition which includes impairments in social interaction, communication, and developmental language.

Children with autism are usually indifferent and isolated in their own world. They are also unable to form any emotional connections with other people. They may have trouble communicating and understanding how other people think and feel, so it is important to be patient and consistent when dealing with a child with autism.

  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder among children, and is more common in boys than in girls. Usually, ADHD is discovered when a child starts going to school because that is where it shows if a child has problems paying attention.

Children with ADHD are usually hyperactive and are unable to control their impulses. As mentioned, they may also have trouble paying attention and that is why their behaviors can interfere with their performance in school and in their home life as well.

What can be Done to Help Children with Mental Illness?

If you observe your child has a strange recurring behavior, you should seek the help of a qualified professional. It helps to be aware of the most common mental illnesses as well as the signs and symptoms that you should look out for.

Fortunately, many medical professionals such as psychologists have a better understanding of mental illnesses among children. So, no matter what your child is going through, you can always find a someone who can help.

But, more than the medical intervention, your child also needs your patience, support, and understanding. Always be there for your child, especially when he wants to talk to you about what he is going through, as well as his fears and anxieties.