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One out of six children suffers from a mental disorder.

Mental illnesses can be hard to diagnose in children despite them being common among children. One out of six children suffers from a mental disorder. Mental health refers to the overall wellness of how an individual thinks, regulates their feelings and behaves. A mental illness, or mental disorder, is defined as patterns or changes in thinking, feeling, or behaving that cause distress or disrupt a person's ability to function. Mental health disorders in children are generally defined as disruptions in developing age-appropriate thinking, behaviours, social skills, or regulating their emotions. These problems are distressing to children and disrupt their ability to function well at home, in school, or in other social settings.

Common Mental Disorders in Children

Mental illnesses can be caused due to inheriting mental illness from parents, biological chemical disbalance in the brain, psychological trauma, being exposed to an environmental stressor.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders in children which can continue into adulthood. When children suffer from ADHD they have problems paying attention, staying focused on certain tasks and they might struggle with controlling their energy level and behaviour. Some children with ADHD are also hyperactive and may have trouble being patient and sitting still. These children can't seem to follow directions and are easily bored or frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move constantly and tend to be more impulsive in nature.

Anxiety disorders

An anxiety disorder is a term that is used to refer to a variety of mental health problems that may cause children to be fearful, distressed, excessively worried and uneasy. Children with anxiety disorders respond to certain stimuli in the environment with fear and dread as well as physical signs of anxiety-like rapid heartbeat and sweating.

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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological condition that appears in early childhood, usually before age 3. Although the severity of ASD varies, a child with this disorder has difficulty communicating and interacting with others. ASD is the third most common developmental disorder which has a neurological origin. Children with ASD may also have their sensory sensitivity affected i.e., they may be under or over-sensitive to certain senses.

ASD Signs of Autism Spectrum DisorderPixabay


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Children with PTSD have intense fear and anxiety, after experiencing or witnessing the traumatic or life-threatening event and feel fearful and anxious as well as 'emotionally numb', and irritable. They often try to avoid places, people, or activities that remind them and lead them to the event.

Depression and other mood disorders

Children with depression experience an elongated period of sad moods and lose interest and enjoyment in activities that they used to enjoy. Children with depression often feel hopeless, worthless, tired, and have difficulty concentrating and making decisions. Bipolar mood disorder results in extreme mood swings between depression and extreme emotional or behavioural highs that are unguarded, risky or unsafe.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder ODD

ODD is a disruptive behaviour disorder and children who suffer from ODD experience sudden unprovoked anger, feel resentful or angry for seemingly no reason. They blame others for their behaviour, argue with adults, deliberately annoy and bother others, and display defiance or refuse to comply with requests.

These are only a few among the long list of mental illnesses that can occur in children.

ALSO READ: Mental Health Disorders Drive Children and Adolescents to Risky, Self-Destructive Behavior

Warning signs that your child may display to indicate a mental health disorder can be persistent sadness that lasts for two or more weeks, withdrawal from social situations, hurting oneself or talking about hurting oneself, outbursts or extreme irritability, out-of-control behaviour that can be harmful, changes in eating habits among many other symptoms.

If you're concerned about your child's mental health seek professional health, talk to their teacher, peers, close friends etc. Mental illness in children can be diagnosed and treated based on signs and symptoms and how the condition affects a child's daily life. Most mental disorders are caused by a combination of factors and cannot be prevented. However, if symptoms are recognized and treatment is started early, many of the distressing and disabling effects of a mental illness can be prevented or at least minimized.

Keywords: Mental disorder, children, depression, stress, treatment


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