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How Do I Know If My Child Needs A Psychiatrist?

Mental Health Issues in Children

Children can develop a mental illness that affects their quality of life as well as their family by altering the way they feel, act, or learn. Many children do not receive the needed help in a timely manner, as parents may find it difficult to recognize or identify the mental issue.

Types of Mental Illness

The various mental illnesses your child may suffer include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Learning and communication disorder

Causes  

The possible causes include:

  • Family history of mental illness
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Head trauma
  • Certain medications
  • Environmental stress
  • Emotionally stressful event like parents’ divorce

Signs and Symptoms

The warning signs for a childhood mental illness include:

  • Improper eating habits or using laxatives to lose weight
  • Deep sadness lasting over several weeks
  • Low self-esteem
  • Excessive worry about the future
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Significant changes in sleep habits
  • Fear with no apparent cause
  • Excessive use of drugs or alcohol
  • A significant change in personality and behavior
  • Engaging in negative behavior
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Poor performance at school/college
  • Frequent outbursts of anger
  • Extreme mood swings and difficulty concentrating
  • Hearing voices and seeing things that do not exist (hallucinations)

Diagnosis

Your doctor will assess your child’s symptoms and take their medical history. Certain blood tests and neuro-imaging tests may be ordered. Specially-designed mental health assessments and screening tests will be given to help make a proper diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the type of illness, and may include medications and psychotherapy. Parents can help their child by:

  • Spending more time with them
  • Expressing love, acceptance and care, and using kind words
  • Helping to relax their child
  • Exploring new techniques to manage stress or anger
  • Helping their child manage fear
  • Praising their strengths and abilities

Prevention

Although mental illness cannot always be prevented, mental disorders in children can be mitigated by:

  • Nutritious food and a healthy environment
  • Physical activities including sports
  • Adequate sleep for their age
  • Appropriate guidance and encouragement
  • Love and security
  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, inc
  • University of Florida
  • Tribhuvan University MBBS Colleges in Nepal
  • St George's University School of Medicine