Signs, Symptoms and Conditions in Children and Adolescents

Support for mental health matters for all ages

General warning signs

Young people dealing with a specific mental health concern may show some of the same symptoms as adults. However, there are also expressions that are more commonly seen in children and teens as their bodies and brains are still developing along with their ability to attend to, process, and understand the world around them. For example, a young child may not be able to use words to fully express the emotionally complex experience of fear or anxiety and may respond to fear-provoking situations with tantrums and other disruptive behavior. Also, children and teens spend much of their days in different settings than adults (e.g., attending school), and symptoms can look different in those settings.

  • Sudden or substantial changes in mood
  • Often being irritable or angry
  • Often feeling sad or hopeless
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Self-harm behavior such as cutting
  • Avoiding or refusing school
  • Sudden or substantial changes in academic performance
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Having too much energy
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Out-of-control or risk-taking behavior
  • Rule-breaking and acting out
  • Trouble socializing, connecting, or fitting in with others
  • Excessive fear, worry, or distress
  • Strong preoccupation with certain unwanted thoughts, feelings, or memories
  • Intense urges to do things or do them a certain way
  • Eating problems such as eating too much or taking very strict measures to control one’s weight
  • Excessive preoccupation with body image
  • Sleeping too much or not enough

Is it just a phase? Knowing when to seek professional help.

Most mental health conditions that begin in childhood or adolescence can be treated effectively. Early identification and effective treatment are related to better long-term outcomes.

If problems persist for more than a couple weeks and are interfering with home life, school, or friends, consider seeking help from a mental health professional.

Common mental health conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Excessive Disruptive Behavior or Conduct Problems (Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder)
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Eating Disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Substance Use Disorder

Take a mental health screening

Take a mental health screening

Online screening is not diagnostic but can help you find out if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

Online screening is not diagnostic but can help you find out if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.