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mental condition in kids

Could Your Child Have a Mental Disorder or Is It Paranoia?

It is only natural for a caring parent to worry about his or her child. Wondering if your child might have mental health disorder is reasonable, especially when your child seems to be acting unusually different from kids around them. However, is there a way to tell if your child is really out of sorts with a mental condition or are they just fascinatingly special?

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13 to 20 percent of children suffer from some type of mental health disorder every year. The most common disorders are reported to include hyperactive disorder, anxiety, eating disorder, and depression. The following are the four most telling signs:

4 Telling Signs of a Potential Mental Disorder

  1. Hyperactivity
  2. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) disorder is a condition that very difficult to deal with. Signs might include focusing on the subject at hand, grades that suffer on a very significant and obvious scale, acting up at school and in public places, and misbehaving impulsively. Trying to get your child to sit still on almost every occasion is very challenging.

  3. Anxiety
  4. An anxiety disorder takes on many forms for children. In essence, a parent must be vigilant of several signs associated with different anxiety disorders. For example, this could be obsessive compulsive behavior like excessively counting trees while driving or obsessing over a comment made at school or at home. Different types of phobias are included in this category. Some children have phobias so severe that they interfere with day-to-day happenings.

  5. Eating Disorder Signs
  6. It might seem a little odd to talk about eating disorders for young children, but it has been known to be a significant sign of a mental health condition. Signs could include binge-eating due to stress and depression that lasts longer than you might think would otherwise be normal.

    If binge-eating is happening, a change in diet could be your first help. After all, much of our behavior and how we look and feel has a lot to do with the food we eat. Food provides comfort and nourishment, but those with an eating disorder look at food as a remedy. So if binge eating is still an issue after their change in diet, then it may be a good time to speak with a health professional or perhaps a social worker who is certified to recognize and help in these types of situations.

  7. Depression
  8. Depression usually affects children in two different ways. Some children seem to feel persistently sad. It may seem odd since most kids don’t necessarily have a reason to be sad, but the feeling might still be there. Others could experience mood swings without any causation.

These disorders can be devastating to your child’s life in more ways than one. For some parents, they worry about being too paranoid, but it’s one of the gifts we are given, isn’t it? The gift to pay attention to what our hearts and instincts are telling us. After all, if we don’t help them when our kids need it most, then who else would?

Hannah Whittenly

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She graduated from the University of California-Sacramento with a degree in Journalism.


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  • I am sure it is going to be a huge worry for any parent when your child behaves in a different way than other children. This is such a great resource to keep a note to help anyone identify the symptoms related to such issues, so you could find ways to help them grow better!

  • Such a great piece. As someone who suffers from a mental illness and has it in my family background, I try to keep an eye out for any telltale signs that my daughter may be presenting. I do the same with my niece and nephew. Mental illness/disorders in little ones is a very real thing and something we should address as quickly as possible if it is spotted.

  • Such a good list and so glad you share this with good information with us , I’m not yet a parent but this will help for the future.

  • Thank you for spreading this knowledge. As a mother of a young adult with anxiety and depression we need more focus on these disorders so we can get our kids the help they need.

  • Hey Hannah, I really love this sentence in your piece “The gift to pay attention to what our hearts and instincts are telling us”. I respectfully suggest that that is the most important sentence too. We are in the era of ‘disorders’ and ‘diagnoses’, and it’s eroding the trust that parents have in their hearts and instincts. Much of what you describe is normal, VERY difficult, as you correctly say, but oft over-diagnosed and medicated as disorders. So they may not have a ‘condition’ but may still need help and assistance. How we label these things can affect both us and them. Second opinions can be helpful – and from different types of professionals to get a balanced opinion. But as you say, listening to heart and instinct will likely yield all the information needed. And I guess bottom line is if you are willing to assist, that in itself is a vital form of assistance, and sometimes the only type required.

About Author

Hannah Whittenly

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She graduated from the University of California-Sacramento with a degree in Journalism.