We live in a world where stress is an everyday thing. Many adults have trouble coping with daily stresses of work, family,finances, etc. All these can lead to anxiety disorders. What about our children? They are the same, they are humans too and have emotions so they too are susceptible to mental and emotional disorders.
It is therefore very important to observe our children and watch for any signs that they are maybe having trouble coping. According to recent studies, as many as one in five children have a mental health disorder and one in ten have a serious mental health problem. Now, this is not a joking matter.
Mental disorders can be classified into three three categories as follows:-
1. Emotional disorders
- are also known as anxiety and mood disorders. Includes depression, bipolar disorder, separation anxiety, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). What happens if this category of disorder is not treated? Health experts say it can often lead to suicide!
2. Behavior disorders
- are also referred to as disruptive disorders. Includes ADD (attention deficit Disorder)/ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), conduct disorder, aggressive and/or defiant behavior, disruptive disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. What happens if this category of disorder is not treated? Health experts say it can often lead to dropping out of school and involvement in criminal behavior
3. Other disorders
- include eating disorders and schizophrenia. What happens if this category of disorder is not treated? Health experts say it can often lead to death!
But what are the causes of children's mental health problems? These two are the most common causes :-
1. Biological causes
- include genetics, damage to the central nervous system or chemical imbalances.
- include stress, exposure to violence, stress, losses through death or divorce or environmental toxins.
Children (especially young children) are not capable of describing their thoughts and feelings well. So it is up to us adults to look out for troubling symptoms that may mean our children are having mental disorders. These include :
1. A child is troubled by certain feelings.
These feelings could be: sadness and hopelessness for no good reason, extreme anger most of the time, lots of crying, overreaction to minor issues, feelings of worthlessness or guilty, anxious or worried, unable to get over the loss or death of someone important, extremely fearful or having unexplained fear, obsessing about physical appearances, worried that his/her mind is being controlled or is out of control.
2. A child experiences life changing circumstances
Such circumstance can result in : a decline in school performance, no interest in things they once loved, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, avoiding friends and family and wanting to be alone, daydreaming to much, feeling like life is too difficult to handle, hearing voices, having suicidal thoughts.
3. A child experiences poor concentration
You child is unable to make up his/her mind, unable to sit still, worried about being harmed, a need to wash or clean things repeatedly or perform certain routines over and over.
4. A child's behavior cause problems
Some problems are : abuse of alcohol or other drugs, eating and purging, laxative abuse, obsessively dieting or exercising, a blatant disregard for others or other people's property, setting fires, abusing animals.
If your child is exhibiting such behavioral traits, it is time to seek help before the situation gets out of control. There are many treatment options for mental health disorders in children. You can seek individual, group and family therapy, medication and play therapy. Note that such treatments are most beneficial when they are home, school and community based as your child will be more relax and receptive in these environment.
Gary T is the owner of UltGuide.com, a website dedicated to anxiety related disorders. Get free info on Agoraphobia and other conditions.