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anxiety in children

Mental Illness in Children

Mental Illness In Children – Are We Too Afraid To Find Out?

Up until about 20 years ago, the idea of mental illness occurring in children was pretty much unthinkable.

Boys who were extremely active were sent outside to play.  Defiant children were punished or sent outside to play.  Irritable children were sent outside to play.  Depressed children were sent outside to play.  Get the picture?Get the Idea

Today we do know a lot more about mental illness and have a lot more medication to treat it.  As mental illness becomes more easily diagnosed in adults, it is natural that we begin to look at our children and wonder.  It is also natural that we look back on our own childhoods and wonder or even know that we were ill then too.

Even though most psychiatric diseases are not diagnosed until the teens or early adulthood, it should be fairly obvious that those diseases did not suddenly happen when the kid turned 18. Likely there were signs of existing mental disorder long before the diagnosis.  Unfortunately, some parents may be too afraid to look.

The problem with recognizing mental illness in childhood is that symptoms of mental illness are different from the symptoms in adults.  Children’s symptoms can be masked with other signs or even opposite to those in adults, so they are not obvious. In addition, the symptoms of many different psychiatric disorders are so similar that it is difficult to distinguish one disorder from another.  Some examples:

Depression in children can show as: Depression, Insomnia, Nightmares, Bedwetting, Anxiety, Combativeness, Lack of interest, Anger, Poor grades

Anxiety in children can show as: Insomnia, Nightmares, Bedwetting, Fearfulness, Depression, Poor grades, Social inadequacies, Lack of interest, Combativeness, Anger.

Mental Illness in ChildrenADHD can show as: Inattentiveness, Lack of interest, Fidgetiness, Poor grades, Irritability, Inability to make friends, Excessive anger, Lack of organization

Asperger’s can show as: Lack of interest, Poor grades, Inability to make friends, Excessive anger, Lack of organization

On the other hand normal childhood occurrences such as puberty can show as: Lack of attention, Difficulty getting along with friends, Unexpected anger, Excessive sleep, Inability to sleep, Nightmares, Irritability, Mood swings, Excessive anger, Excessive crying, Poor grades

And Sexual abuse can show as: Nightmares, Bed-wetting, Excessive anger, Anxiety, Depression, Mood swings, Irritability, Disinterest

So how can we determine if it is something that happened to the child, something that is temporary or something like a mental illness?

The best things we can do are to pay attention, know your children.  If they change, find out why.  Know your family history.  If they seem “different”, talk to their teachers.  If they are continuously exhibiting behavior outside of the range of “normal”, there may be something wrong.  Listen to your kids, if they tell you that something is wrong, it probably is.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Educate yourself.  Take the self-test quizzes.  Have your spouse or the child’s other caregivers take the tests.  Take all of this information to your healthcare provider and if that doesn’t work, find someone who will listen.

Most mental disorders are not diagnosed until the late teens or early adulthood – bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder and schizophrenia.  There is more recognition today, but a lot of resistances to – both from parents and health professionals.  Don’t be afraid to seek help just because you are afraid of medication, knowing what is wrong and knowing your options can head off problems.

Recognizing an oncoming issue may help prevent years of anguish for your child and yourself.

Melissa Lind

Do Teens Suffer from Stress?

Most people associate stress with adults and seniors.

It is a fact that more and more teens and young children are also dealing with stress. Teenagers today have more pressure placed on them than ever before. Examples of that could be that they are expected to be more social, or they feel pressured to excel at school.

Young children spend more time today with their friends than you may have done at the same age. While it is great for them to be social and interact with others, there is also a downside to this.

Today’s teenagers are often pressured into trying out drugs, smoking and even having sex at an early age. The use of drugs and alcohol by under aged children is on the rise, and this can lead to other problems. The fear of not being one of the “in crowds” is huge and pushes teens to do things they usually wouldn’t.

Scared ChildThis had led to report of groups of boys raping young school girls, of children being bullied and more. In many cases, the consequences have been devastating for everyone involved. The victims have been driven to end their lives and the perpetrators end up in juvenile detention centers or even in jail.

The pressure of getting good grades and homework can add stress to any child. With so much competition for jobs, teens are pressured to attend college and university and strive for that perfect career. It can be hard for any young teen to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives, let alone choose their career path.

All of these choices can become a burden in teens. When the pressure gets too high, they can start to rebel in different ways. Many will act out with behavior that is unnatural for them. They may become sick more often, eat more, gain weight, or just start to withdraw into themselves.

Parents sometimes unknowingly pressure their children with good intentions. They enroll them into lots of after school programs, which only increases their burden. They actually have less time to get their homework done and often offset this by not sleeping enough. Lack of sleep can cause stress and other mental health related issues.

If you suspect that your teen is suffering with stress, find a way to talk to them about it, and offer them options for dealing with it. This may be just to opt out of some after school activities, or they may prefer to talk to a school counselor. By providing teens with opportunities, they will have choices that they can make.

Stress Management – Articles as MP3 sound and PDF

Teenagers do suffer from stress!