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Signs of Mental Health In Children

Few parents are prepared to recognize symptoms of mental health problems in their child. Do you know what to look for?


Just like adults, many kids — infants and toddlers included — are plagued with mental health problems. In fact, nearly one in five children has a mental illness, and for some of these youths, the disease interferes significantly with their daily lives.


But according to recent research from the American Psychological Association, young children are less likely to get mental health treatment than their grownup counterparts because children are expected to "grow out" of their emotional problems.


That means it is up to the parents not to ignore any instinctive sense that their child's emotional health is at risk.  If you suspect any signs of mental illness such as ADHD or depression in children, it's important to seek help from an expert in child psychiatry of chil psychology.


Every parent wants to believe that their child is doing okay, but if you feel that something is going on or if someone you trust -a teacher or a coach - suggest that something might be wrong, pay attention and take action.


The signs of mental illness in children vary by age and type of illness, with some psychiatric disorders appearing even in preschool years. However, two warning signs tend to cross over into all categories and signal that you should consult with a psychologist or psychiatrist.


  • Extremes or peculiarity of behaviour for the age and gender of the child, such as being significantly more hyper, aggressive, or withdrawn

  • Sudden, hard-to-explain negative changes in behaviour, such as a steep drop in grades.

But many children have more than one mental illness — which makes getting a diagnosis even more challenging.

Here are some of the signs of mental illness during different age ranges but you should also note that what you might think are signs of mental illness may in fact be symptoms of another condition (such as sleep disorders), but medical help should be soguht immediately.


Preschool/early elementary school years:

  • Behaviour problems in preschool or daycare

  • Hyperactivity way beyond what the other kids are doing

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Persistent nightmares

  • Excessive fear, worrying, or crying

  • Extreme disobedience or aggression, such as deliberate destructiveness or hurting peers or animals.

  • Lots of temper tantrums all the time

  • Persistent difficulty separating from a parent. Children experience separation anxiety at first; there could be a problem if this goes on for months.


In older children:

  • Excessive fears and worries

  • Extreme hyperactivity

  • Sudden decrease in school performance

  • Loss of interest in friends or favourite activities

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sudden changes in weight

  • Excessive worry about weight gain

  • Sudden changes in sleep habits

  • Visible prolonged sadness

  • Substance use or abuse

  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there

  • Destructive behavior, such as damaging property or setting fires

  • Constantly threatening to run away or running away, which can be a precursor to self- harm

  • Withdrawal from family and friends

  • Comments or writings that suggest a desire to harm himself or others.


Dipolar Disorder  -  Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder In Children 

  • Severe mood swings that are different from their usual mood swings

  • Hyperactive, impulsive, aggressive or socially inappropriate behavior

  • Risky and reckless behaviors that are out of character, such as having frequent casual sex with many different partners (sexual promiscuity), alcohol or drug abuse, or wild spending sprees

  • Insomnia or significantly decreased need for sleep

  • Depressed or irritable mood most of the day, nearly every day during a depressive episode

  • Grandiose and inflated view of own capabilities

  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors in older children and teens

Children with bipolar disorder experience symptoms in distinct episodes. Between these episodes, children return to their usual behavior and mood.

Childhood Schizophrenia (click)

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