Problems with depression, Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues are common in today’s youth. One in ten children will experience a significant depressive episode, and one in twenty Americans has a mental illness. With so many rumours out there, it is time to get the mental health facts.
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Children Do Suffer From Mental Health Issues
Depending on the type of mental health disorder, signs may appear before the child is fourteen years old. One unknown mental health fact is that youth with mental health issues rarely get their help. Over 80% of children with a diagnosable disease are not treated for their condition. These youth that untreated are more likely to experience relapses into adulthood.
Common Mental Health Conditions
Another mental health fact is mental illness can affect anyone. It affects children of all ages, races, and ethnicities. There is no rhyme or reason why children experience one disease over the other. Some of the common conditions in today’s youth are:
- Depression – symptoms can include crying, sadness, change in sleeping habits, and lack of motivation, frequent headaches or stomachaches, excessive anger towards others, talks of self-harm, and increased irritability.
- Autism: appears in early childhood, generally before three years of age. There are many types of autism disorders, but they affect the child’s ability to interact and communicate with others.
- Schizophrenia – this mental health disorder stays with the child their entire lives. Antipsychotic medications are used for people with Schizophrenia because they often lose touch with reality and may have hallucinations.
- Mood Disorders – Bipolar disorder is an example of a mood disorder. Extreme mood swings, either depressed or manic, are symptoms of mood disorders.
- Anxiety Disorders – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Social Phobia are anxiety disorders. A child will have anxiety to the point where it makes it hard to function and go to school.
- Eating Disorders – such as Anorexia and Bulimia can make a child hyper-focused on their weight. They may excessively count calories, exercise, and do little else except pay attention to their weight.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – hyperactivity, difficulty keeping attention for too long, and impulsive behaviour are all symptoms of ADHD. If undiagnosed, this can continue into adulthood.
It is a mental health fact that most mental illnesses commonly shows warning signs in the people it affects. Signs to look for in a child are:
- Powerful feelings could be an overwhelming sense of fear that interferes with everyday activities. A fast heartbeat and rapid breathing may come with this feeling.
- Hard time concentrating – a child may become fidgety and have trouble paying attention which can cause a drop in grades and school performance.
- Changes in mood – withdrawal and sadness are common signs of mental illness. The child may not act like themselves or have mood swings that cause problems in relationships. They may seem sad all the time like the joy has been torn away from them.
- Changes in behaviour can be withdrawn from society to out-of-control risky behaviour. The child may express feelings of hurting someone or start fighting more.
- Weight changes – often, a child with mental illness will lose their appetite or start overeating. Either one of these is a warning sign of a mental disorder.
- Substance abuse – a child may use drugs or alcohol to try and live with their feelings or get away from it all.
- Self-harm – cutting or suicidal thoughts or actions are significant warning signs. If you see these, your child needs help right away.
If any of the warning signs above are present in a child, contact their doctor right away. The doctor will get the child into an appointment and assess them to get the help they need.
After a Mental Health Disorder is Diagnosed
The child’s doctor may recommend a therapist, psychiatrist, or both depending on the condition. A therapist uses talk therapy, sometimes known as behavioural therapy, to help the child. A psychiatrist treats the condition with medication.
Whether your child needs medication is up to the psychiatrist. Depending on the child’s condition, they often provide remedies such as antidepressants, stimulants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medication, or mood stabilizers. Medication can significantly impact the child’s health and wellbeing, making them more open to talking therapy.
During talk therapy, the therapist will discuss the child’s diagnoses with them and just what exactly it means. By learning more about themselves, the child will better realize what is happening with their body. Who will better understand the feeling, and the child may recognize that they are okay. The therapist will help the child with coping mechanisms to better respond to everyday situations.
Most often, talk therapy and medication are combined, which can increase the benefits of both. The child’s doctor, therapist, and psychiatrist will all work together with the parents to decide on the best course of action for the child.
Help the Child Succeed
Once the child is diagnosed, it is time to get informed. A wealth of information is available both on and offline about various mental health disorders. It is essential to read up on the child’s condition to understand what they are going through.
Talk therapy is also helpful for the parent of children who has been diagnosed with a mental illness. The therapist will recommend books, coping mechanisms, and information on the child’s condition. Having the parent and the child attend therapy can better understand what they are dealing with and how best to approach the issue positively.
Many rumours on mental health illnesses are out there, but these are the mental health facts. By reading the correct information and taking the proper steps, children and parents are more likely to understand mental health illnesses better and get the help they need. This gives the child a better understanding of themselves, allowing them to cope with the disease successfully.