Types of Mental Illness in Children

There are many common types of mental illness in children which one suffers from while growing up - where identifying these sooner will help a child cope better with their illness. We look further into these here, along with the causes, symptoms and treatment...
A mental illness is something that cannot be easily managed since it can take over one's everyday functions, and make life quite complicated. Children especially while in their growing years, are still trying to saturate their minds with all that they can see and understand - have to be able to live a life with a mental illness. The changes children go through are much more heightened than adults, because their everyday interactions are hindered, and their perceptions can change and make things worse. Knowing how to identify the signs of a mental illness that is prevalent or one that is about to occur is important for any parent. That way you can get the help your child requires and make life a little less complex for them to handle.

Common Mental Illnesses in Children

There are all sorts of mental based sicknesses that can take place in children, but there are those that are more evident and highly seen as the most common in mental illnesses in children. The reasons for one suffering from a mental illness can be either due to stressful situations that they have to endure while growing up, mental trauma that the child may have faced in the past, genetic structure that can lead up to suffering from a mental illness or injuries that may have altered one's chemical balance in the brain.

Type Description
Pervasive Development Disorder Not able to understand what it going on around them, children have a problem taking in what is happening. Generally confused and not able to grasp what is going on.
Tic Disorder The disorder gets its name because of the fidgety and random movements kids make, that are recurrent and involuntary in nature.
Eating Disorder Food being the subject here is the cause for concern when it comes to wanting to lose weight, or because of a mental ailing problem or attitude. Common eating issues linked with this disorder are anorexia and bulimia.
Anxiety Disorder Feeling instant anxiety when a situation presents itself or towards things that ignite fear, makes a child show physical changes in not being able to behave calmly. Things like profusely sweating and a quickened heartbeat are physical signs that kids show forth.
Mood Disorder Bipolar disorder and depression are commonly linked to mood problems, which deal with different shades of feelings. These can jump from sadness to suddenly feeling all right, to going into depression without any apparent reason.
Disruptive Behavior Disorder Children tend to behave ill-mannered and cause a ruckus in school by bending the rules and not going by what is expected within the system. They tend to throw tantrums or cause problems within an environment that usually have people gathered.
Communication and Learning Disorder Not able to put forward a thought or idea without having trouble communicating it. Also retaining information isn't easy, and can be easily forgotten or not learned.
ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Children with this disorder tend to easily tire from doing a task and need to constantly be on their toes or move frequently. They can't follow a laid down pattern of instructions and have issues with concentrating and paying attention.
Schizophrenia This mental illness deals with a blurred idea of the world and of one's thoughts, often leading to split personality issues.
Elimination Disorder Linked with problems related to going to the bathroom. Either children hold it in or have trouble going to the bathroom before passing bodily waste.

Signs of Mental Illness in Children

Mental illnesses showcase pretty much one and the same signs, because of their association with the brain and its subsequent effect on behavior and emotions. The most common of these are listed below that will help one gauge as to how to decipher the signs when one is under a mental illness.
  • Complaining constantly about a physical malady
  • Not able to handle daily activities or problems
  • Temper tantrums that are recurrent
  • Alcohol or drug abuse from a young age
  • Not interested in activities or friends anymore
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Hallucinating
  • Prefer spending time alone than in company
  • Eating/sleeping habits change
  • Anxiety or excess worrying
  • Hearing voices
  • Having bad dreams
  • Damaging public property or breaking rules in and out of school
  • Not able to perform well in school
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Stealing items from stores or other places
  • Fear of putting on weight
Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Illnesses in Children

To help find out the root cause of the behavioral occurrences that children showcase, a doctor will conduct a series of normal tests like blood tests and x-rays to mark off the list the chances of anything physically wrong with the child. More tests are done like a physical exam and looking through a child's medical past. Once the diagnose has been made, a doctor can clearly ascertain what is to be done. Treatment options provided are.

Anti psychotic, mood stabilizing drugs, stimulants, antidepressants and anti anxiety drugs are prescribed to children to help them cope with the effects of the illness.

Therapies that help kids explore their creative sides are introduced like art class or helping them be a part of interactive games and activities. It helps them communicate and share their feelings, while battling out their problems at the same time to counter the effects of their mental illness. Psychotherapy is introduced as well to some kids, to help deal with emotional responses to their illness. It targets different areas of the illness like the symptoms and what they do to one's body.

By being prepared and knowing what to do in a situation where a child needs attention, you will be able to help them lead a more normal life. The sooner the better it will be for kids to get the help that they need, so that the extremities of their illness don't take hold when they grow up.
By Naomi Sarah
Last Updated: 10/5/2011
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