Uncovering Mental Illness in Young Children
Temper tantrums, quirky behaviors, the tendency to withdraw, perceived delays in development, an inability to sit still…the list of behaviors in young children that raise concern in parents seems endless. And not knowing what to do when it comes to a child’s mental health can feel even scarier and more overwhelming. Is what I’m seeing in my child “normal”? When should I get help? and Where can I go to get a professional opinion? Parents who ask themselves these questions can feel quite alone. The good news is, you’re not. Questions like these are commonly asked, and help is available.
Cause for Pause
Mental illness in children can be difficult for parents to recognize. Many disorders that affect adults also impact kids. But, because their brains are developing at such a rapid rate and they often lack the skills to verbalize what they are experiencing, mental health symptoms can look much different between a young child, teen and adult. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, common disorders that affect children may include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder, eating disorders, and bipolar disorders.
While some concerning behaviors may be serious or lead to a diagnosis of some sort, others can simply be a strong response to everyday stressors or a significant change in a child’s life. In some cases, support from parents or caregivers is all that is needed to help a child weather the storm. But when behaviors seem to linger or interfere with everyday life, professional help may be required and should be explored.