15 Signs of Mental Illness in Kids

01/02/2013

Child mental illness photo

A much needed focus has shown on mental health in this nation as a result of the tragedies of Newtown, CT. Parents may wonder how to pinpoint mental illness in their kids, especially those that are less likely to know how to explain the way they are feeling. 

(This is not a doctor's advice.)

Here are 15 signs that your child may need professional help:

1. Sadness or withdrawal for more than 2 weeks

2. Severe and drastic mood swings

3. Obsessive feelings that take over and get in the way of daily activities

4. Difficulty concentrating

5. Weight loss or eating issues: starvation, bulimia, use of laxatives

6. Abuse of drugs or alcohol

7. Cruelty toward animals

8. Trouble sleeping

9. Seeing or hearing things that are not there

10. Problematic behavior in school, noticeable drop in grades

11. Attempts to harm themselves and others

12. Loner behavior: few or no friends to speak of

13. Excessive fear, worrying, crying

14. Victim of bullying at school

15. Dangerous online activity

Sad kid photo

If your child does exhibit some of these symptoms, seek out professional help. Start by gently talking to your child about the issue, emphasizing openness and honesty. The next step is to talk to your child's doctor about your concerns. Have your doctor recommend a trained therapist or psychologist. You may also search online for a therapist that deals with childhood issues. Join a support group, call a hotline, and discuss the issues with your school psychologist. But most of all, don't be ashamed that your child is having problems. 

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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