Mental illness in children: Know the signs

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By Dr Rohit Garg , Psychiatry

Mental health problems in children and adults are similar in nature. It can be difficult for a parent to identify if the child is mentally ill; this can result in the child not receiving the necessary treatment at the early stages, which paves way for further deterioration of the child’s mental health.

Types-

The various types of mental illnesses that can affect children are:

  1. Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders may occur in children; characterized by anxiety and constant worry.
  2. Autism Spectrum Disorder: Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that usually occurs in the early stages of childhood. It impairs the child’s communication and speech.
  3. Eating Disorders: Disorders such as binge eating and bulimia nervosa (a psychological disorder which is marked by binge eating followed by purging) may affect children.
  4. Schizophrenia: This disorder occurs when the child loses touch with reality.

Signs and Symptoms-

The symptoms of this disorder are:

  1. The child may experience intense fear.
  2. Rapid mood changes.
  3. There may be drastic changes in the behavior of the child, such as an inclination to hurt others.
  4. The child will have difficulties in concentrating on things at hand.
  5. The child may turn to drugs and smoking to cope with their emotions.
  6. Drastic weight loss.

Causes-

There are multiple reasons why a child may be affected by mental illnesses; some of them are brain injuries, infections and substance abuse. Genetics may also play an important role. If anyone in the family is affected by a mental disorder, then the risk of the child getting affected increases as well.