If you have a mental illness yourself, you may feel concerned about whether or not your child will have mental illness as well. One in 14 children who has a mental illness has a parent with a mental illness.
Children can have mental illnesses the same way that adults can, but the symptoms often present in a different manner. Children can suffer from depression, anxiety, or other types of mental illness. The providers at 2nd Chance Treatment Center explain more about recognizing the signs of mental illness in children.
Signs of mental illness in children
Sometimes, you may not even be able to pinpoint any one particular problem with your child’s behavior; you just know that they don’t seem like their usual selves.
Common symptoms of mental illness in children may include the following:
- Decreased interest in normal activities
- Fights with loved ones
- Refusal to go to school
- Mood swings
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in eating habits
If your child isn't functioning well, it will likely show up in a lot of unrelated areas of their life, such as their school work and their eating habits.
Children who are struggling may be more isolated than usual. If your child used to have a lot of friends and now spends a lot of time alone, they may be dealing with some emotions they don’t know how to handle.
Your child may be isolating themselves due to social anxiety, stress at school, a reaction to problems at home, or many other factors. If they don’t feel comfortable opening up to you about what’s wrong, they may feel more capable in the hands of a professional.
Eating disorders are quite common in young people, especially girls. The most common types are anorexia nervosa (failure to eat enough), bulimia nervosa (binging, then forcing yourself to vomit), and avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). ARFID is a complicated disorder that often includes rapid weight loss and aversions to food textures or tastes.
You may notice these signs if your child has secretive behavior around eating, if they’ve stopped getting menstrual periods, or if they have a constantly sore throat.
How to get help
If your child has a mental illness — especially if you also have one — you may feel a little bit worried and confused about what to do.
One of the best things you can do is to make an appointment with a counselor. Kids may feel nervous about meeting a counselor, but you can rest assured that counselors are specially trained in how to communicate well with kids and find out what their big concerns are.
Your child may also be able to participate in group counseling sessions. In these groups, kids with similar mental health concerns can brainstorm ideas about how to solve their issues. It also gives them more social opportunities to be around other kids who have similar issues.
All kids can blossom when they have a safe environment where they can be themselves. Your child may find this type of nurturing environment at 2nd Chance Treatment Center. Call us, or request an appointment online.