PRECISE

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CHILD & ADOLESCENT MENTAL ILLNESS

What are the warning signs of mental illness in children?

Warning signs that your child might have a mental health condition include:

  • Mood changes. Look for feelings of sadness or withdrawal that last at least two weeks or severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships at home or school.

  • Intense feelings. Be aware of feelings of overwhelming fear for no reason — sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing — or worries or fears intense enough to interfere with daily activities.

  • Behavior changes. These includes drastic changes in behavior or personality, as well as dangerous or out-of-control behavior. Fighting frequently, using weapons and expressing a desire to badly hurt others also are warning signs.

  • Difficulty concentrating. Look for signs of trouble focusing or sitting still, both of which might lead to poor performance in school.

  • Unexplained weight loss. A sudden loss of appetite, frequent vomiting or use of laxatives might indicate an eating disorder.

  • Physical symptoms. Compared with adults, children with a mental health condition may develop headaches and stomachaches rather than sadness or anxiety.

  • Physical harm. Sometimes a mental health condition leads to self-injury, also called self-harm. This is the act of deliberately harming your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. Children with a mental health condition also may develop suicidal thoughts or actually attempt suicide.

  • Substance abuse. Some kids use drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their feelings.

Meet Precise Clinical Neuroscience Specialists Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Team: Robbie Stephens, PMHNP.