What Are the Signs of Mental Illness in Children?

Children of all ages, just like adults, can develop mental illness. Due to their severe or unusual moods and reactions, they are misconstrued as normal sadness or temper tantrums, and that they will just grow out of it.

It can indeed be a challenge to distinguish signs of mental illness in children from normal childhood actions. This is part of the reason why childhood mental illness is underdiagnosed. Another reason is that children do not have the verbal ability or maturity to express themselves accurately, which is why it is up to the parents to pick up on any signs of mental issues so that your child can get the help they need.

Mental illness is a serious matter that can interfere with your child’s mental and emotional development, but it can be addressed with therapy and/or medication. With professional treatment, your child can grow up to be happy, well-adjusted adults and reach their potential.

Symptoms of Mental Illness in Kids

Here you will find some of the main signs of mental illness in children from preschool to the teen years:

Preschool Age

Up to age 5, take note if your child displays any of the following behavioral signs:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Frequently fighting with other kids
  • Difficulty communicating and interacting with other children
  • Excessive hyperactivity
  • Sleep Issues and frequent nightmares
  • Fearfulness
  • Excessive worrying or crying
  • Persistent disobedience
  • Aggression towards others
  • Deliberate destruction of property
  • Animal abuse
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Separation anxiety for months after starting school

Elementary School Years

Once your child reaches age 5, you can now turn your attention to his or her relationships with others. Look at the quality of friendships that your child has and how he or she is maintaining them. Some of the red-flag signs during these years are:

  • Frequent bouts of sadness
  • Sudden poor school performance
  • No longer enjoying favorite things to do
  • Weight loss or fluctuating weight
  • Preoccupation with their own weight
  • Abnormal changes in sleep patterns and trouble sleeping at night
  • Illegal substance use or prescription drug misuse
  • Hearing voices

Teenage Years

Given that mental health issues are not treated early on can. Symptoms become more apparent in the teen years. As a result they can include the following:

  • Destructive behavior (vandalism, arson)
  • Disrespect for personal or private property
  • Withdrawal from social settings
  • Losing friends; having poor-quality friendships
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide ideation
  • Absence of goals; this leads to a grim view of the future; persistent negativity
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Experiencing intense feelings; inability to manage emotions
  • Trouble in school (unusually poor grades or misbehavior)
  • Frequent illness
  • Substance abuse (drugs or alcohol)
  • Eating disorders

Please note that it is not uncommon for a child to have more than one mental disorder.

Childhood Mental Illness Treatment in New York

Dr. Raymond Zakhari, NP of Metro Medical Direct will come to your home for a discreet consultation and evaluation of your child’s symptoms. Dr. Zakhari will first develop trust with your child, as a result, your child will trust him to work on therapy and treatment.

At Metro Medical Direct, we explicitly treat a broad range of mental illnesses – from anxiety disorders to neurological disorders like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – with a combination of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology.

For confidential psychiatric care in the comfort of your home in Manhattan, call Metro Medical Direct today at (917) 484-2709 or request a consultation online now. It is our privilege to provide you and your family the compassionate, in-person medical help that you deserve.

Also check out Dr. Ray’s Podcast The Psychology of it All here. Also available on Apple Podcasts.


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